Your customers are the foundation of your business success. You stay profitable by selling. That means engaging with customers and building trust and loyalty. To make a solid relationship happen, you need to provide great customer service.
How you do that is both simple and complicated. The heart of effective customer service is treating customers like you would like to be treated. However, as always, it gets more involved when you try to figure out the details.
Many firms just use the platitude “The customer is always right” as a basis for managing customer relationships. Other companies use detailed checklists, which can predictably lead to canned responses. Neither approach is the remedy for long-term success.
The Right Mindsets
You need a combination of these two approaches in order for your customer service to be top notch. First, let's look at the mindsets you want to cultivate in yourself, your managers and in staff who deal one-on-one with customers.
- Come from a place of abundance.
This is not just new age thinking. If you feel successful, you can afford to be generous to your customers. They pick up on this immediately. It engenders a feeling of security when you are generous. It can be as simple as a free refill on coffee or giving a refund. In the long run, you will benefit from using generous business policies and practices.
- Make the most of every interaction.
Each personal interaction gives you a chance to make your company, service, and brand memorable to a customer. They in turn will pass their impressions, good or bad, onto a wide range of people in their network. It might seem inefficient to take the time to interact with someone who may not even buy from you. However, that does not take into effect the ripple effect of each and every contact you and your staff have with a person.
Tips for Providing Great Customer Service
Here are five concrete tips for providing the best possible customer service.
- Listen to complaints and act on them quickly. Word-of-mouth about a bad interaction spreads quickly. Defuse it by answering your customer’s complaints immediately.
- Find out what your customers need by listening to them. This can be done in person when they come into your store, when they email you about locating a hard-to-find product, and when they talk to each other via social media. The more you listen, the better you know what they are looking for and what you need to provide to keep them coming back.
- Identify customer needs and provide them. You do this by keeping abreast of industry trends in trade publications and reading the results of surveys. Write a survey and get customers to fill it out by offering a discount on future purchases. This is taking the idea of listening to your customers a simple step further.
- Make each customer feel important. Use their name, so they feel like an individual to you, not just one of the teeming masses you claim as a customer. Thank them at the time they buy from you and follow up by offering special promo codes for future business.
- Ask for feedback. Then act on it and respond to it with individual customers. Have a suggestion box prominently displayed in your brick-and-mortar store. Have an easy-to-use contact form on your website. Check back regularly to see how the product is doing for them.
Your customers may not always be right, but they are your customers, the people who ultimately pay your salary. Be decent to them, fair, and caring, and you will inspire trust and loyalty.