Cultivating Good Customer Service Skills
In the last article, we talked about cultivating good customer service skills. Today, we’ll continue where we left off. As a reminder, customer service starts with you, the business owner, but it’s up to you to train you employees to represent the company properly. So without much fanfare, let’s talk about more ares of customer skills to develop.
Customers like to have a clear understanding of the services being provided by your company. Expectation has a huge impact on the satisfaction a customer has with their buying decision. It’s not uncommon for a salesperson, who’s looking at numbers, to promise the world in order to make the sale, but delivers a bucket of dirt. The result is a customer who’s wondering where the rest of the water and land is and upset because he or she doesn’t have what’s needed.
Again looking back on my last article when I talked about a bad car dealership experience. I was wooed into their place of business because of an ad with some shady fine print that I missed. Learning the truth upon arrival was disappointing and lowered my trust. It’s not enough to get a customer in the door with an offer. Not only will they think twice about giving you their money, they’re also not going to rave about you to their acquaintances if you don’t deliver to their expectations. You’ll be lucky if they don’t steer their friends clear of your business.
Value Customer Feedback
We can’t get it right the first time every time. However, taking note of your customers experiences and seeing where you fall short can help you hit the mark the next time. Constant measurement and evaluation of company’s progress helps to prepare for the required future plans.
Customer feedback can come in a variety of ways. Some businesses implement customer survey cards. These days I’m starting to see quite a few of them included with restaurant bills. Since most people pay by credit card, the pen is even included to complete the survey. Other businesses might have survey sheets in strategic places, near registers, entrance ways, etc. Others may reward customers for completing online surveys.
Though written documentation of customer feedback is great and provides a way to quantitatively measure customer satisfaction, businesses can also ask on the spot. As I mentioned in the last article, many unsatisfied customers leave without complaining and never come back. Asking a customer about the service they received while they’re in the experience provides an opportunity to correct any issues and show customers you care before they dismiss your place of business forever.
My husband is constantly making improvements on our house, which means spending quite a bit of time in the local hardware store. Something that amazes me is the number of store reps who ask us if we need any help finding anything the minute we start browsing a shelf. It’s truly amazing. We haven’t even had a chance to look, and they’re already offering assistance… almost to the point of annoyance.
On the other hand, we’ll go to a section where we absolutely must have assistance to proceed (mixing paint, cutting flooring, blind cutting, etc.) and there’s no one in sight. I just don’t understand why their self-served areas are so well staffed, but customers have to track down reps when assistance is absolutely required… not even a button to push to call for help.
Be attentive to body language. A customer who has just arrived in a store or a department doesn’t need immediate assistance from every hand on deck. The customer service they likely need is a bit of recognition. “Hi. I’m Jill. I’m here if you need help finding anything.” On the other hand, the customer who’s intently wandering down aisle but not browsing or the customer who’s been reading label after label but not sticking anything in the cart might need a bit of help finding what he or she needs.
A boss I had was often fond of saying something similar to, “If you’re doing the things you should be doing, the results will follow.” When it comes to customer service, this is definitely the case. My husband, who is a HVAC Service Manager (previously a Service Technician) often talked about how loyal customers were. Interestingly enough, not necessarily to the Service Company, but to the employees. They would say things like, “I only want Bruce coming out to my house” or “I only want Greg” or “Don’t leave the company without telling me where you’re going.” It goes with that saying, “People do business with people, not companies,” which is why you want everyone who’s working for you to be customer oriented.
For tips on how to keep those employees who’ve earned your customers’ loyalty, I encourage you to read Implementing Employee Retention Strategies and Top Reasons Employees Quit Their Jobs.