Providing quality customer service is vital and should be an important part of your business model. What is quality customer service? It involves relationship building, establishing communication, building trust and resolving potential problems or conflicts.
Are you at the top of your customer service game? Do you have processes in place to handle customer complaints? How do you measure quality service? These questions are simple, but often the answers are not. According to most consumer surveys, a typical business hears from about 4% of its dissatisfied customers, while 96% just go away and 91% will never come back.
To make sure you are consistently delivering quality customer service, here are ‘5 Tips to Stay On Top of Your Customer Service Game.’
TIP 1: Treat your current customers like gold. Make sure that they feel special. This can be as simple as sending out occasional ‘thank you’ notes; special occasion cards (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc); a monthly e-newsletter; or a quick phone call to ask their opinion on a new product or service. When you treat your customers with respect, you build a lasting relationship and you will have a loyal customer for life!
TIP 2: Be an active listener. Listen to your customers needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. It is important to listen to their exact words. Always paraphrase at the appropriate time to make sure you understand. Check out their body language. Are they at ease or in a defense mode? You should avoid making assumptions as it will only ignite the situation. Since it costs five to six times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep a current one, make sure your customer’s needs are taken care of and that you have follow up procedures in place.
TIP 3: Good customer service is paramount! I can’t begin to emphasize how important it is to provide your customers with exceptional customer service. How is this done? This can be achieved by building lasting relationships with people. The success of a business depends upon the quality of care in the relationship. By understanding and focusing on the needs of your customers, you create a loyalty between yourselves.
Don’t sit on your morals! You should never get too comfortable, instead, regularly assess the strengths and weaknesses of the quality of your services, your processes and your customer approach. As a business owner, I make it a practice to over deliver and under promise.
TIP 4: Ask for feedback regularly. Make it apart of your day-to-day routine to ask your customers for their opinions. Welcome suggestions about how you could improve their experience. A few ways that you can gather their feedback:
- Surveys or questionnaires. The most effective way I have found is to create electronically. Though there are several popular services, I have had the best experience with Survey Monkey.
- Phone. Make sure you are professional and ask permission to take up their time. Create a simple script so that you can stay on target and consistent.
- E-mail. This is a quick and easy way. Check your message for grammar and other inaccuracies.
TIP 5: Take care of your ‘internal customer.’ Your employees are the lifeline of your business. Treat them well! Make it a point to thank them and find ways to let them know how important and valued they are.
Just as your happy customers lead to financial success; content employees lead to long-term success of your company. Are they in the loop about important company news? With the power of the Internet, you can’t afford to let your employees learn of company news, secondhand. So, make it your business to have regular conversations with your employees.
In closing, your customers, both internal and external, have choices whether to do business with you or not. If the only difference between you and your competitors are the level of customer service, you should strive to move from good to great customer service!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Sylvia Browder is CEO of Browder Consulting Group, a virtual small business consulting and coaching firm. She is currently employed as a Project Director, business coach and consultant for the Women’s Business Center, Inc., a non-profit economic development organization with a mission of empowering women to start and grow successful businesses. She also serves as a volunteer SCORE counselor, an organization dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. She is also a Technical Assistant Provider for SBA’s Community Express Loan Program. For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneur’s, www.sylviabrowder.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org..
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