How is important customer service to you? Funny how everyone of us demands the best possible service yet we hardly offer the same to those whom we serve. There are many dimensions in which your biz can meet and even exceed customer expectations. Every business should aspire to get there. I often like to challenge entrepreneurs with the 200k challenge. Assume you have 200k and you let your customs know you have the money and are interested in ideas on how you can invest it in your business to optimize their experience, how do you think they would advise you to spend the money?
Here we do a 3 part series on customer service
1) Be Available.
Well, do you have a business line? Firstly, its best to separate your personal and business telephone lines. This works not only to make your accounting easy but also to ensure you are well able to balance work and life. Once you have a business line please use it and most importantly make sure it is answered. Nowadays your phone is an extension of the office. You will use the phone to reach your customers through voice calls, SMS, WhatsApp and other social media, skype emails etc. Importantly be professional. Don’t pick calls while in clubs and noisy places. Not when your kid is crying in the background or some funny music in Matatus. Don’t have those funny rings back songs on your phone. At best, use a ring back to advertise your business. etc. There is a whole lot of business call etiquette Learn it. Remember. Your customer doesn’t have to be professional. But you have to be
2) Be Honest.
I recently read a quote attributed to Richard Branson that, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”. Well, you will quickly be reminded that you are not Richard Branson. Customers like honest guys. Some would even be okay with you learning to do things with their assignments but let them know you are learning from the on-set. If you promise something be sure to keep it. If for whatever reason it becomes impossible keep the customer briefed and explore options together. Have you seen those memes about “what was promised „and “what was offered”, imagine how guys would make with respect to your biz
3) Listen to Your Customers
Sometimes the customer experience is so horrible they bother not even complain because they aren’t confident you will be responsible. If your customers aren’t complaining or offering suggestions maybe they see it best to try elsewhere in future. Suggestion boxes stopped working long time ago. How else can you proactively solicit customer feedback? I recently went to a restaurant and as they brought the bill, they also brought a device with a question and emoticons. All I had was do press a key on how I felt of their service
4) Go the Extra Mile
A question popped up recently in a workshop; how to handle a situation where a customer wants a specific items which you don’t stock but your competitor does. The risk being, if you refer them to the competitor they might go and discover a whole lot benefits than you can offer. Well. How do you deal with that. From a customer point of view, I would appreciate such help and to tell you the truth, if the benefits there out play what I get from you then I am gone. From a business point of view, if you know someone is more competitive than you and you choose not to do anything about it you will not survive. Even if you physically lock your customer in your business.
5) Empower your Staff
Good businesses are sometimes destroyed by incompetent employees. Some jobs may not require a lot of academic and professional trainings. It is about learning on the job. Make sure your new employees are well inducted. Ensure that interns and new employees are well identified even if by use of name tags. A customer may excuse a small mishap if they know someone is on training. Ensure there are regular team trainings especially on customer services and other emerging needs. I remember a place where we had Wednesday morning as feedback sessions. Everyone gave their experiences and feedbacks from customers for the past week and we all learned from it. Don’t just employ people and throw them in the deep without support. Its frustrating. In any case, how would you like to have an opportunity to always transmit your vision for the business and ensure it is followed?
6) Extra Free Value.
Do you know. You don’t have to charge for every little service you offer to your customers. Recently there have been complaints about a private hospital who charge patients and their visitors for parking space. Sometimes you turn off your customers when they sense your greed and determination to milk every single cent they have. It won’t hurt your business a lot to offer small commentary services. There is a kibandasky we used to have lunch in and the guy made sure we had a tropical sweet on our way out. There are many freebies and give away that can help retain your customers. Even the good old calendar. Or sometimes just tell them the house pays today