Well, its globally recognized that customer is king. Never mind, some customers may not have any sense of royalty in their attitude or behaviours. Some of them are quite rude and uncouth. Others are outright criminals; who do you think is committing all the murders, theft, corruption etc? They are guys who in the next minute are your Kings. Nevertheless, you are duty bound to disregard everything else and accord them royal treatment. This is the essence of this post following up on the previous one Customer Service 101: How to Improve Yours. Let keep talking about how to satisfy the kings. A few more tips.
1. Retaining is Cheaper
Do you have some sort of Customer Relationship Management tool that helps you track and maintain contact with customers you have dealt with? Do you call your customers just to check on how they are doing and how the product/service you sold them is doing? Do you check on whether the expectations they had when buying your product/service is being met? Do you let them know about what is also coming up on your side; any sale offers and promotions that might benefit them? It’s just like friendship, it grows when you are empathetic and show concern for how your customers are doing. Don’t only be concerned with them when you are taking their money.
2. Listen to Your Customers.
A business that does not listen to its customers is a business that is soon detached from the reality and market and going down. You need to listen to your customers both internal (staff and partners) to external, buyers and suppliers. Do you have tools to ensure you are actively listening? Do you have a suggestion box? Is it accompanied with a note pad and pen to encourage people to use it? Do you have a dedicated email for complaints and suggestions? Is it functional, proactive and engaging? Do people know it exists? Do you undertake customer satisfaction surveys? Do you share the results of such a survey with your customers? Do you have informatics, How Tos, and newsletters to share with them? Are you even listening?
3. Cultivate Relationships.
Customers need to see you paying attention to them and actively so. Most businesses assume their old customers. Don’t just wave at them, don’t assume their calls, don’t think you can’t lose them. Pay attention. Be attentive when they speak to you, respond to them ASAP, visit them, call them, email them. Consult them. Make them feel important. Exchange gifts and find ways to invest in them. Cultivate personal relationship with their key staff. They have anniversaries and needs for recognition too. It helps, and it might just be the value add that they get from you.
4. Customer First attitude.
While you might have a few dedicated staff in customer care to trouble shoot customer issues, you need to ensure that everybody understands that “customer service” is everybody’s business. Even the ‘back-room’ guy affects how service is offered and consumed. It goes beyond the customer facing staff. You cannot afford to have lapses and blame games. Everybody needs to understand and focus on the end goal which is to make the customer happy. Even though Policies and Procedures are important in running a business, sometimes lazy and incompetent staff hide behind them. Maximum effort needs to be paid in satisfying customers however insignificant and even at a cost. We exist for tomorrow and customers have long memories.
5. Keep Promises.
Customers will naturally demand more and if they happen to get a staff who isn’t well empowered they might squeeze maximum and sometimes impossible promises from them. It is important to ensure your staff are well empowered with all information and support. Empowered staff means sometimes they can exercise judgement that might put the business at a cost. However, if the motivation is on the bigger benefit of the business then support them instead of turning them into an item of ridicule. What can be promised, who can approve what promises etc. Have all that understood from the beginning, so you don’t have staff that cant take any responsibility or staff that are overzealous and strain the business
6. Delight the Customer.
A few times you will have customers who will have ‘issues’. Please understand that the shouting customer may be carrying emotional hangovers from experiences outside your business. Don’t take it personal and start shouting back. Don’t let your staff ridicule them or show any form of disrespect. You need to find ways to calm them down. Even if they leave the premises still worked up, you will need to call or visit after some time to check on whether and how the issue was resolved. Such are the customers you will send a promotional item/company souvenir and they will appreciate you much. Such are the ones you turn into loyal customers who will wear your brand with pride.
7. Monitor External Environment.
Remember your customers today are also being targeted by your competitors. It’s a serious game and you can only play if you know your environment better. That you do if you keep tabs with what is happening outside your business. Who are the competitors coming into your area? What extra value are they promising your customers? What methods and innovations do they have etc? If you don’t focus on what your competitors are doing then you are likely to not realize when and why your customers are disappearing slowly. As an entrepreneur, always be aware that your business grows based on what you are doing out there rather than inside your business. Don’t be the guy sitting behind the counter from dawn to dusk. Venture out. Sometimes even to your competitors.
8. ‘Waw’ Your Customers.
Some people will say ‘don’t promise what you can’t deliver’. Well, the trick is finding ways to, ‘deliver more than what you promised’. You will need to invest in it too. Some entrepreneurs are only focused on how much they can milk out of a customer. Find ways to add value to your customers. Deliver the ‘waw’ experience by helping them save money, giving them extra value, giving them best quality and ensuring you are in touch with their expectations and find ways to surpass them. The opposite of that is when you underwhelm your customers to the extent they wonder how they got into contact with your business to begin with. Ever witnessed guys that won’t even finish the food they bought even though still hungry? Or guys that wont wear your dress again? Give your customers good memories to carry about you
9. Empathize with Your Customers
Your first obligation should always be on the customers. Treat them how you like to be treated when it is your turn to be a customer elsewhere. Remember the internal customers too. It’s weird to think you are doing yourself much good if all you do is to invest in external customers while neglecting your staff and partners. Treat them too. Let them know that they matter. Many time businesses will give goodies to externals when their staff can’t even get that benefit. Seen restaurants that poorly feed their staff while they serve top quality to customers? Be reasonable and strike a balance. Staff are reasonable and will understand
Ultimately, the quality of customer service received is dependent on human values. Your customers need to feel valued, respected and handled like humans. Your staff need also to be inculcated with the same values to understand that they are there to do much better than machines and robots can. Because they are human too.
Now be part of those who celebrate customers. Don’t only wait for the customer service week but make it a daily habit
Ever received exceptional services that stays in your heart? Ever received horrible services that stayed in your heart? Want to share the experiences here? We would love to read them