While the customer may not always be right, the customer certainly deserves the right treatment. While profit may be the lifeblood of the company, customer service is the heart, and when customer care is poor, it is simply a matter of time before sales begin to drop and what could have been a successful, thriving business, starts to have develop cracks in the foundation and consequently crumbles.
Making a good first impression is important, but keeping that impression in place is even more important. People don’t always speak of the product which they’ve bought or service which they’ve made use of, but they will almost always speak about poor service which they’ve received. On the flip side, they are often quite likely to make mention of excellent service which they’ve received – the best form of free advertising!
So where do you start?
How easy is it for your customers to contact you?
If your clients were to have a question or complaint, how could they reach you? Are you available when they are available? There are certain industries which need to offer round-the-clock support, and should someone not be available to assist when a problem arises, their customers would leave in droves. Support via email, internet live chat and call centres are good options. This is not to say that you have to offer all this level of connectivity and availability, but you need to consider very carefully what your customers expect and the type of support your competitors are offering.
Learn to really listen
Get to know your customer needs. Listen attentively to any suggestions or complaints, and while you may not want to admit fault (let’s face it, it isn’t always the seller who is at fault), you may instead choose to empathise and look further into the matter. Having said that, always be following up. Never leave the client hanging and assume that because they haven’t approached you again, the problem has mysteriously disappeared.
Establish a customer service identity
No matter how small your business, it is wise to have a customer care policy. If this is established while a company is still in its infancy, by the time it has grown the customer service levels will have grown along with your business and be ingrained in your company’s culture. You may also find that this will influence your hiring decisions.
If it’s broken, fix it
If there is a legitimate problem with your product, fix it otherwise don’t sell it. Selling an inferior product or service may cause irreparable long term damage to your reputation. Loses can always be recouped, but a broken reputation can be extremely difficult and costly to fix.
Remember that no matter how elaborate your advertising campaigns, how flashy your packaging, the one thing your customer is going to remember is your interaction with them and whether you made them feel as though you value them…or if they’re simply another entry on a spreadsheet.