Great customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and discounts that may attract new customers, but unless you keep your customers coming back, your profitability will be short lived. Good customer service is about sending your customers away HAPPY. Happy enough that they share their experience with others and speak positively about your products and services. Keeping them coming back!
I have been in the business of customer service for over 15 years and my role as Customer Care Team Lead at The TSL Group, allowed me to interface with a myriad of customers. The TSL Group’s product and service offerings is so large, it is hard to pinpoint my customers, today my customer might be a lead in an organization and tomorrow it is the guy on the street looking to print a document at DocuCentre. For the last 7 years, I, with the help of my Executive Vice President - Peter Thavenot have been leading the charge for customer service in the company. In 1996, the then CEO made sure we adopted a culture of customer satisfaction and so we began surveying 100% of customer interactions locally for our Xerox customer base. This extended in the early 2000s’ to all of our customers including those to whom we provide and implement software solutions. Today, The TSL Group lives a very Customer Centric culture, one which has seen us grow, form bonds and relationships that are solid and time tested.
A good salesperson, will sell anything to anyone, maybe once, sometimes twice. But it will be the customer service magic touch of that experience that will determine whether there will ever be another sale. At the heart of good customer service is relationship. Relationships with your customers – one that each customer feels that he/she would like to pursue. How are these relationships formed? By adhering to the following:
1.Answer your phone.
The first rule of good customer service is that your business phone MUST be answered. Get call forwarding or hire staff if necessary but make sure that someone is answering the phone when it rings. Persons contacting your business WANT to speak to a real person not a recording. Be polite and ensure that the good experience begins with the way the call is answered. There will be circumstances where calls will go to voicemail. A pleasant and personable greeting MUST be recorded, and all messages MUST be promptly returned.
2.Don't make promises you cannot keep.
This is very critical to good customer service and to relationship-forming. The inability to keep promises is viewed by many as ‘’telling lies’’ and that injures a relationship. Reliability is a key factor. Before you make a promise, check and double-check, to ensure that you can meet or deliver on that promise. Many times, when we make promises, customers make sacrifices to accommodate our promises and nothing is more disheartening than to be disappointed.
3.Listen to your customers.
There is nothing more exasperating than telling someone what you want, what your issue is, what your situation requires and then discovering that, that person hasn’t been listening to you. Would you want to go over the details again? Most times the answer is NO. Sometimes it is necessary to put aside the sales pitch and the product jibber-jabber and let your customer talk. Create a great customer care experience by listening and responding appropriately. IT IS ONLY WHEN WE LISTEN THAT WE SELL A SOLUTION. Solutions help to keep our customers not our products.
4.Deal with complaints.
No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, ‘’You can’t please everyone, every time’’. Maybe that’s true, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time - and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service. Complaints can become opportunities once they are handled correctly.
5.Be helpful - even if there's no immediate profit in it.
A few months ago, as I was entering our offices, I noticed an elderly lady on the sidewalk, looking a bit lost. I approached her, asked how I could assist. She visited an embassy close to our offices and was told to make a copy of document. JUST ONE COPY. Someone told her that there is a place that makes copies right around the corner and she was looking for that place.
I ushered her into our building and told her about our business, being sure to mention The Docucentre Limited. I also copied the document for her free of charge. She left, quite happy. A few days later, I was summoned to the receptionist’s desk. There was a gentleman waiting to see me. He was sent by his mother to the Docucentre to do business and just wanted to give me her regards. His mother was the elderly lady I met on the sidewalk. To provide good customer service, keep your eye on the customer, not on the profit.
6.Take the extra step.
When customers come to you for help, don’t just point them in the direction they need to go, or simply forward the call. Walk with them, ensure they get what they desire. Ask them if you can take their contact info. Follow up with them to ensure they are happy. Answer any questions they may have. It doesn’t matter whether they are your customer or not. One company, one experience.
Classic example: If you walk in to a store and ask for an item and the store clerk says to you….. “It’s on Aisle 3”, how do you feel?
Add the extra step; the clerk says, “Let me show you” and leads you to the item, waits to ensure you are satisfied and waits around to answer any questions you may have….. How would you feel then? Whatever the extra step may be, ensure you provide excellent customer service. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people. And that good word of mouth will win you more customers.
7.Communicate with your customers.
Last, but by no means least, communicate with your customers. BAD NEWS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NO NEWS. Many times, we are afraid to share bad news with our customers. We feel that we will lose the sale. The truth is… you probably won’t. Contacting your customer to update them on any developments, good or bad, will make them respect you and strengthen your relationship. Leaving them in suspense or ‘’in the dark’’ will not help. Customers, like everyone else, do expect that at times things go wrong. They just need to know so they can make the necessary adjustments on their end if needed.
Good Customer Service Pays Big Dividends. If you apply these seven simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? Over time, good customer service will bring in more new customers than promotions and discounts!