I may have mentioned that if you provide your website visitors, leads, prospects and customers or clients with excellent customer service, you will be taking a huge step towards building a successful, rewarding business.
I will go further and say that excellent customer service is one of your most valuable, and ultimately inexpensive, forms of advertising.
Because excellent customer service enhances your reputation and your excellent reputation motivates word of mouth recommendations which are, by their nature, free. That's right, in a busy and overwhelming world, your kindness and consideration are a valuable asset.
And, if you think about it, word of mouth has always been, and probably will always be, the most compelling form of advertising there is.
Because people trust each other more than they trust paid advertisers. Period.
What is Good Customer Service?
Good customer service involves:
- Being proactive. An old friend of mine used to say, “Don’t go borrowing trouble.” In terms of good customer service, this means you should prevent trouble. Example: You will have fewer complaints about your website’s typeface if you use a larger type point. Making your site easy to read is a very practical sign of respect.
- Training staff. Even if you are the only staff member, think through the kind of customer service you want to provide. Example: Write up policies such as “answer email within 24 hours” and then stick with them.
- Problem solving. Customer service shouldn’t always be about solving problems, especially if you have put systems in place to avoid them. That said, when problems arise you should solve them quickly, cheerfully and efficiently.
- Personal touch. This has a lot in common with courtesy, but it refers more specifically to making people feel warmly welcome. And known. So much of today’s world involves anonymity that providing a personal experience will go a long way towards finding and keeping customers.
- Follow through. Follow through is also a form of courtesy. Do what you said you would do when you said you would do it. Period.
As you can see, good customer service is mostly about good manners and genuine consideration. It’s all about caring about your potential and actual customers' needs and experiences.
Tips For Providing Good Customer Service
Here are XX more tips for providing good customer service:
- Make your website shine. Your website is, of course, your online home (or office). It should be attractive and functional. If at all possible, offer your clients an inspiring user experience .
- Answer your phone. Or your emails. Or your texts. In other words, be available to your clients. On the other hand, for your sanity as a solopreneur, be clear about when you are available and when you are not. This clarity can come from autoresponders and your outgoing voicemail message.
- Keep your promises. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: Do what you say you are going to do when you say you will do it. It’s usually free and it really builds confidence.
- Listen. Careful attention to what people say about your business will allow you to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not. Listening to what people have to say, even when it involves criticism of you or your services, can be challenging but try not to take it personally. People want to be heard and understood. Offering understanding is a gift.
- Deal with complaints. Directly address criticism and complaints offering concrete solutions whenever possible. No one is perfect so facing your problems and mistakes head on will leave you feeling clean and clear and will inspire confidence in others.
Be extra helpful. Here’s an example: Don’t just tell people that pens can be found in aisle 8. Walk over to aisle 8 with them and find out what kind of pen the person is looking for. Extra help like this deeply acknowledges people and makes them feel truly cared for.
- Be knowledgeable. This speaks to training staff, above. It is impressive and helpful if you know a lot about your product and service as well as your field as a whole. If you are knowledgeable, people can begin to see you as a resource and an authority.
- Provide freebies. People love freebies. This can take the form of swag or it can be consciously spending a little extra time with them. This is also “free” advertising. You can always say, “I’m conscious that we’re coming to the end of our free 1/2 hour consultation so I wanted to check in with you. If you have another 15 minutes I would love to continue the conversation.” This helps potential customers see the value of what you are providing while making it clear that you are considering their time.
- Follow through. I’ve already said it twice. I hope the third time is the charm. Do what you say you will do when you say you will do it whenever possible. People will love being able to rely on you.
Perhaps you can see from the lists, above, that good customer service is not a matter of rocket science. In fact, it is mainly requires, in addition to good manners and genuine consideration:
- Being well organized and
Good customer service is not only a great business tool but it leaves you feeling energized and positive about all of your relationships.
What do you think? What makes good customer service great?
Kooser, Amanda C. A Description of Excellent Customer Service. Chron.com.
Ward, Susan. 8 Rules For Good Customer Service: Good Customer Service Made Simple. About.com