Although there have been reports that state the economy is getting better, we’re still miles away from where we were in the past few years. With that being said, it’s so important to today’s small business to take their focus and put it back on what should be the heart of their business: their customers.
Surprisingly, customer service is a dying art. And the service provided to them are in desperate need of revitilization. It’s a simple formula, that most businesses just simply arent’ using. So, I’ve comprised a list (not exclusive) of basic principals to deliver quality customer service in these harsh economic times.
1. Make the customer feel wanted and appreciated immediately
Sounds simple right? Wrong!!! Many establishments don’t understand the necessity to make the customer feel appreciated from the moment they enter the premises. Your customer should receive a greeting within the first 8 seconds of entering a facility. The more time you wait before greeting a customer, the greater the chances they will leave or make their visit to your business shorter than they intended.
A simple “Hello, welcome to ___________! How are you today?” is enough to make the customer feel valued just for taking the time to come in. How an experience is started sets the tone for how the experience should end.
2. Get to know your customers, ALL of them!
Asking open ended questions, such as “What brings you in today?” and/or “How can I assist you?” helps the business owner identify the needs of their customers in a timely manner. The customer enters your establishment for a reason…because they need your help. They expect you to have a resolution to their problem. So don’t wait for them to ask for your assistance.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why it’s important to know ALL of your customers. Because all of your customers, can give you a huge advantage over your competitors. If you know that you have a customer that loves red shoes and you get a new shipment of red shoes, you can give that customer a call or send her an email announcing your new shipments in. Who do you think that customer will appreciate and grow more loyal to? Will it be the big box retailer or the one who knows her personally and took the time out to contact them?
Another reason to know ALL of you customers is to assess what they’re in need of and make adjustments to your business accordingly. For example, if you’re a small boutique that carries handbags. Hopefully, you follow the trends. But let’s say that you have several people who enter your establishment requesting a navy handbag that you don’t have. By asking the right questions, you can find out if the people requesting the handbag are trending internationally, nationally, or locally. It can help you to identify if your method of selecting product may need to be tweaked or if it’s just random. Either way, it will help your bottom line.
3. Know your products and/or services!
When you are up to par with what products/services you provide, you can be extremely efficient and effective when dealing with customers. Customers desire for you to supply their needs in a timely manner. By knowing your inventory and what compliments your inventory, you can exceed their expectations and build their loyalty in a major way!
For example, a customer comes into your establishment and asks for a specific product that you don’t have available. If you know your inventory, you should know what a great substitute for that product is and/or where the alternative can be gotten…which leads me to my next lesson!
4. Go the extra mile!
Anyone can satisfy a customer, but it’s the business who exceeds the expectation which will ALWAYS be in business! Work to go above and beyond for your customers to build lasting loyalty! When you are always giving your customers more than they expect, they will be your greatest cheerleader. They’ll return to your business and they’re going to bring all of their family and friends with them.
You can still exceed expectations, even when you don’t necessarily have what the customer needs right away. Example: A customer walks into your hotel to book a room, but all of your rooms are full! You can still exceed their expectations, by taking the time to book them another room at a competing hotel! If you really want to wow them, pay the difference in your price v/s the competitor! Don’t believe they won’t return to your hotel? Don’t believe they won’t tell their family and friends about their experience? Sure they will!
Quality customer service is a dying skill these days! But it’s going to be essential to compete in the business world today. Stay tuned for the next installment of Customer Service Basics to make sure your business has what it takes to build the strongest and most loyal customer base.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include the following with it: Tanisha Rankins is CEO of Customer Service & Efficiency Solutions, (C.S.E.S.), a customer service/hospitality training firm. In her role, she helps businesses enhance their customers’ experience by providing them with the most up-to-date training practices available. She is employed as the Rural Business 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. Prior to her starting her C.S.E.S., Tanisha’s background includes working for Fortune 500 companies, where she received numerous awards for her outstanding dedication to improving customer service practices and implementing procedures which would build customer loyalty. She is also a motivational speaker, encouraging diligence to create positive results from negative situations. For FREE weekly articles go to Tanisha Rankins’ blog, “Love Your Customers”. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.