AUTHENTIC SERVICE COUNTS
How do you distinguish your business from the competition? Service, not cost, will keep your customers coming back. Service is not just a smile or pleasant tone of voice. Authentic service is ethical, value based and practiced all the time. Our values may include integrity, accountability, quality, collaboration, and teamwork. A value may be defined as that which is important to someone and which affects the way a person acts. We base our behaviours on daily choices, and hopefully, our strategic plans on standards and principles which we value. In turn, we expect these from our leaders, our teams, and ourselves. Surprisingly, we often share the same values, but never discuss them.
How does our value influence our service offering in a way that enhances customer loyalty and repeat purchases?
You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business will not be profitable for long. Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. It is about sending them away happy; happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business to others, who may then try the product or service and also become repeat customers. A good salesperson can sell anything to anyone. However, it is the approach to customer service that determines whether or not that person will make repeat visits to the store.
The secret of customer relationships.
The essence of great customer service is forming a relationship with customers which the individual customer might like to pursue. How can we form such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; You will be judged by what you do, not what you say. If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does these things: Answer your phone. Get an answering service. Hire staff if you need to. Ensure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. Bear in mind that people who call, want to talk to a live person, not a recorded voice. Do not make promises unless you WILL keep them.
Reliability is a key factor in any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say, ‘Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday’, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, and so on. Think before you give any promises because nothing annoys customers more than a broken promise. Listen to your customers. Nothing is more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that the person has not been paying attention and needs to have it explained again. Let your customers talk and show them that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.
Ensure you deal with complaints. No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please everyone all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person – and position your business to reap the benefits of great customer service.
Be helpful, even if there’s no immediate profit in it. The other day I popped into a local dentist because my front tooth chipped off while I was trying to eat a piece of chicken drumstick. When I explained the problem, the dentist said he thought he might fix it`. He numbed the tooth, applied some substance, allowed it to set, filed it to shape and charged me nothing! Who do you think I will go to when next I need dental care? And how many people do you think I have told this story?
Educate your staff to ALWAYS be helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. Do it yourself or hire someone to educate them. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so that they never have to say, they don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at… Take the extra step. For example, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don’t just say, “in Aisle 3”. Lead the customer to the item. Wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell others.
Introduce something extra. Whether it is additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more. Do not think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. Our local drycleaner attaches a “thank you” note to every washing he delivers. A small thing, but much appreciated. When you apply these simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its great customer service and over time it will bring in more customers.