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Every business owner and organization knows if they want to attract and retain more loyal customers, they need to provide high-quality customer service. That's why organizations today focus heavily on communicating how valuable their customers are to the organization. Now, the question is...
How much do they truly value their customers?
Most of you probably had the experience of being a "valued" customer, yet you didn't feel valued at all! For example, you call a company for either customer service or to order one of their products and you enter into the electronic triage system only to be put on hold. You're told: please stay on the line, your call is important to us. Sometimes we dutifully follow the electronic request, and we wait, and even wait longer. Other times we hang up in pure frustration.
RELATED: 8 Keys to Building Customer Loyalty
Or, have you been asked to complete a customer satisfaction questionnaire?
Again, you are told that your comments are "very important to us."
How maddening it is when you have taken the time to complete such surveys after receiving poor service, spelling out in detail what the issue was and why you were dissatisfied, only to receive no acknowledgement of your issue or concern?
Perception, as we have heard endless times, is reality. The reality here is that you won't go back or use them in the future. And likely, you will tell your friends!
We believe that providing excellent customer service should be an obsession.
Here are our Growth without Sabotage™ Tips That Will Help Your Organization Differentiate Your Customer Service
- Have a real, live person answer all of your calls. If you cannot have someone answer all your calls, subscribe to a voice message service and include a message that you will return all calls within one business day – and do it If it is late in the day, it can acceptable to wait till the next business morning. Remember, the message and perception in timing/promptness is, "you count"-- you are important and a priority to me.
- Return emails within one business day (two days maximum).
- Learn to be comfortable introducing yourself by your full name. When meeting in person, look at people directly in the eye, especially when you first meet them and insure you know how to give and reciprocate a firm handshake.
- Insure you clearly understand the customer or prospects need and priorities. Do this by listening sincerely and asking clarifying questions. Listen FIRST and actively listen more than you talk. Ask questions to clarify your understanding of your prospect's motivation to buy – but do so respectfully and carefully.
- Keep agreements you make to the prospect or the customer. When you say you will do something, do it when you said you would do it. Emergencies should be the only exception.
- Eliminate negative surprises for the customer. If there is a problem, acknowledge it quickly, apologize if appropriate and do your best to fix the problem to the customer's satisfaction.
- Always have your clients' and prospects' best interest in mind. Think of ways you can help them improve their needs to be in the forefront.
- Think of the long term sale. That means go slow, don't push now to sell or attempt to up-sell. Think of the longer-term relationship and resulting opportunities forthcoming.
- Warning- Flirting and fawning are forms of overselling (as well as demeaning) yourself. Realize how unprofessional and damaging these behaviors are with your customers and prospects.
- Warning - Don't expect the customer to understand that you are busy or short staffed. They won't and they shouldn't have to.
You may be thinking that this is obvious. Yes, indeed, it is not rocket science. While it may be obvious, the truth is that it is also frequently not practiced. And because it is not done well or consistently, it represents a key differentiator.
RELATED: The 10 Commandments of Great Customer Service
You need to capture the attention of your future customers and keep your current customers. Without consistent excellent customer care, customer loyalty is improbable, especially in this economy where buyers are more cautious. Now more than ever in business, we need to find ways to differentiate ourselves. We find that customer service is a simple yet powerful differentiating strategy.
Sara LaForest and Tony Kubica are management consultants with more than 50+ years of combined experience in helping organizations improve their business performance. They say, failing to improve customer service by showing your clients that you value them is just one way to sabotage your business growth.