5 Ways to Improve Customer Service
You know the old adage, ‘a smile goes a long way.’ Well, it is also true for a friendly and professional disposition, a patient ear, and knowledgeable support, when it comes to your customer service staff. Your employees are on the front lines, managing leads and existing customers day-in and day-out, and it’s extremely important for the well-being of your business to provide quality customer service. Looking for ways to improve your customer service? Consider the following 5 tips. There’s always room for improvement.
1. It’s Called CUSTOMER Service for a Reason
Sometimes a company gets so wrapped up worrying about how well they think they are serving their customers that they forget about what the customer thinks. Reprioritize how you think of the whole interaction. The customers are the priority, so your style of service should be CUSTOMER-based, not business-based. It’s their perception that matters.
“Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.” -Peter Drucker, famous 20th Century management consultant.
The consumer will always choose the service or product with the most perceived added value, tangible or intangible, and your idea of how well you met or exceeded your customers’ needs may be off from what they perceive. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for honest feedback and track their experience. Not only will it fine-tune your operations, but it will show the customers you care about what they think and want from your business.
2. Get to Know Your Customers
How can you begin selling them something if you don’t know what your customers really want or need? Get to know your customers. Who are they – the soccer moms with 3 kids, the young professionals, retirees? What do they buy? How often do they buy? Why do they buy? And what do they buy from your competitors? Don’t be afraid to talk with your customers and request honest feedback. As soon as you discern their purchasing habits and motives, you can better adapt your business to exceed your customers’ expectations.
3. Be Available for Your Customers
On the flip side, you need to allow your customers to get to know you. The modern customer is an educated consumer, and she wants to know as much as possible about your services and products to make an informed decision about where she spends her money. Connect with your customers on a personal level, not just through an anonymous website or e-mail address. If you can’t meet them face-to-face, make yourself available on social media or for phone calls. It’s important to minimize peoples’ concerns about working with you, so that you gain their trust and future business. All relationships are two sided, so learn as much as you can from each other to foster a successful seller-customer relationship.
4. Make Existing Customers Feel Special Too
When you finally develop a relationship with your customers, personalize each experience for them. Many consumers want that personal touch to make them feel appreciated. Use their names, reference personal information (i.e. children, spouse, occupation, hobbies, etc.), and remember previous orders. If you make your customers feel like an important element in your business, they will come back and spend money again and again. Also, don’t forget to extend promotions and specials to your loyal, existing customers, not just to the new ones. Give your existing customers an incentive to stay with you, or they will be lured away by another company’s ‘new customer deal.’
5. Get Feedback from Your Staff
When you feel like you have enough information, consult your staff. Your employees are the ones initiating, managing, and, hopefully, improving customer relationships. Encourage feedback of their experiences. What concerns or suggestions do your customers share with them? How do they feel they can better serve the customers? There’s always room for improvement, so continue training your employees to hone their customer service skills. The higher the quality of service they can provide, the higher the customer satisfaction, and that’s what you want: satisfied customers.
The first step to improving your company’s customer service is actually quite simple: make the customer the priority. Take the time to learn who they are as complex, educated consumers, and then give them the personalized experience they will come back for again and again. Appreciate them and take care of them, because without your customers you don’t have a business. By improving the quality of your customer service, you inevitably improve your bottom line, and that’s what every business owner wants.
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