Friday, January 14, 2011

7 Ways to Better Customer Service

Many business executives believe customer service is part of operations. In reality, it plays a significant role in marketing your company. If the service you provide your customers is poor, word will travel fast. More so today than at any other time in the past.

Much of the reason bad news about customer service travels so quickly now is because of the internet and social media. Within minutes of a bad experience an irate customer can post a negative review. This review can be seen by thousands of people almost before you close the doors for the day.

Twenty years ago, statistics showed that for every unhappy customer you had, they would tell ten people. Think of all the places that a disgruntled customer can post a less-than-favorable review now. Facebook, twitter, Angies List, City Search, and a multitude of other online sites.

It only takes one employee having a bad day to create a bad situation for a customer. Have you ever had a client ask you for something that you didn't feel you should give them or couldn't? It could cost you money and possibly create an untenable precedent.

It's important to handle every customer service situation carefully. Each should be considered as important to your marketing as the advertisements you place.

Consider these ideas for powerful customer service:

1. Don't argue with a customer. The customer will always win in the end. They may not get what they want from you, but they will tell enough people that you will lose.
2. Consider how much you can lose in the long run. If a customer asks you to honor an expired coupon because they didn't know it had an expiration, consider doing it and saying "In the future we are unable to honor these past their expiration, but today we are happy to honor this because we appreciate your business." If you don't honor it, how much could you lose by the spreading of the story to thousands of potential and current customers?

3. Always err on the side of giving the customer more than you think they deserve. When you do, it probably still isn't as much as the customer thinks they deserve.

4. Decide how you would like to be treated if it were you on the other side of the counter or desk. What would make you feel as if you had been treated fairly?
5. Remember that whatever you decide to do in a tense customer service situation affects your brand and how people see your company. Thinking about this may help you make the right decision.

6. Make customer service from your company a joyful experience. Create an atmosphere of helpfulness that your customers will remember.

7. Go above and beyond every day. 'Nuff said.

There is no amount of advertising that can overcome lousy word of mouth. If you start with great customer service, your advertising will be more effective and create new sales for your business.

Cindy Neky

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