As business owners, we’d all like to think of ourselves as providers of great customer service. As small business owners in particular, it’s quite possibly your biggest differentiator. After all, how often is it that you walk into a national chain restaurant and are greeted by name, handed your favorite drink and made to feel like part of the family?
But great customer service is also about knowing how to handle problems, responding to and resolving issues—something at which agile small businesses can often excel.
If customer satisfaction is your goal, then great customer service will get you there.
Here are three simple things you can do to embed customer service into your business philosophy and day-to-day operations:
Listen and Learn
Listening is key to effective customer service and it can also help boost your profitability. Here are two ways to prove to your customers that you are listening–and tips on how to make it count:
- Everyday Customer Interaction– Show you are listening to your customers by taking notes or repeating back what your customer has said. Listen to their words and tone. Observe their body language. Provide them clear and concise communication. Ask clarifying questions to gain understanding before you provide a response. If you can’t respond immediately, be sure to provide a timeline for response and make a note in your calendar to do so. Follow up, confirm the resolution and check for customer satisfaction and completion.
- Facilitating Feedback– If you don’t have a reason for face-to-face interaction with a customer, look for ways to stay in touch and show you are listening and eager to keep the lines of communication open. For example, follow up with a customer after a sale to prove to your customers that you want to hear from them. Hand out in-store or post-sale surveys to find out what they’d like to see from your brand—and stay active on social media (more on this below). Customer service is, after all, about meeting the needs and expectations of the customer as defined by the customer. By soliciting feedback and using that information to inform your business you will find new ways to ensure your business is relevant to them and hopefully open new lines of profitable opportunity.
In order to have effective customer service, you must know what your customers want, provide it to them on a consistent basis and ask them how you are doing.
Look For Ways to Treat Customers As You Would Like To Be Treated
Remember, how you and your staff communicate with your customers is just as important as what you communicate. Remember that your customer wants to see the sunny side of you and your business, so have your filter on and put yourself in their shoes.
A good way to instill this attitude among your staff is to do some simple role play in which they act out a few scenarios that involve both easy-going and difficult customers. Observe how they handle the situation and coach them on areas to improve.