For many companies, Customer Service is a Department. For a small business, it is an All Hands On Deck proposition. Customer Service is about making customers happy. Happy customers buy more of what you’re selling and can be one of your best marketing tools. It can take months or years to find a customer but it only takes a few moments to lose them. Making your customer feel genuinely wanted and needed can make all the difference in the world.
Good customer service isn’t what it used to be. Not that long ago, answering an email in a day or two or responding to a voice mail message by the next day would have passed as good service. Not anymore. Customer expectations have changed so much in the last few years that it is getting harder and harder to satisfy consumers.
According to a study done by CRM behemoth Salesforce, 64% of consumers expect a company to respond and interact with them in real time. In the study, one of the factors that rated highest in importance was “real time messaging when I need service.” As a consumer myself, I am among those who demand near instant feedback from those companies I interact with. I find it extremely frustrating when I run into an issue and can’t get it solved right away….even if it happens to be 10pm.
Customers demand individual attention. Everyone wants to feel like they are the most important person in the room. Companies that excel at customer service make every person that they have contact with feel like they are the number one priority. Those organizations that consistently rank high in this area have made it part of the DNA of the company with every team member doing their part.
I usually exercise at least 3-4 days a week. I’ve been going to the gym for several years, primarily to get into shape but more and more it’s a way for me to purge the stress in my life. On days I don’t get there, I am not as productive and I generally berate myself for not going. About 6 months ago, I noticed one of the employees at my gym was engaging many of the gym-goers. He was cleaning equipment but as he moved around the gym, he would stop and talk to people and give some encouragement here, a little advice there. Based on his physique, he clearly knew his way around the gym. For several days, I tried to see the name on his name tag to see who he was and one day I finally saw his name was Brock. He must have noticed me looking at him because he came over and started talking to me…asking how my workout was going, what my plan for the day was and if he could help. Over the course of the next few months, Brock and I became friends and I genuinely looked forward to seeing him on the floor when I arrived at the gym. I was so impressed with his work ethic, that I actually wrote a letter to the gym manager telling him of my observations. Not too long ago, the gym raised their price….not much but enough to make me think about switching to another gym. I didn’t switch. Do you want to know why? High on the list is that I look forward to fist-bumping Brock and having him tell me what I’m doing wrong during my exercise routine! That’s actually not true…he would never do that. My point is that I’ve connected in a personal way with one of the gym’s team members, which in the customer service world is the Holy Grail. Based on that connection, I have a higher opinion of the gym and have a loyalty and satisfaction level that is about as high as it gets. Why? Because this team member took time to make connections and was able to make me (and everyone else he talks to) feel like the most important person in the room. Due in no small part to his ability to engage people, Brock was recently hired by the gym as a personal trainer. I have no doubts that his schedule will soon be packed because his positivity is contagious.
The key to good customer service is building good relationships with your customers. To build good customer relationships you need to:
- Greet customers and approach them in a way that is natural and fits the individual situation.
- Show customers that you understand what their needs are.
- Accept that some people won’t want your products and concentrate on building relationships with those who do.
- Help people – even just letting a customer know about an event that you know they’re personally interested in is helpful.
- Continue to keep customers aware of what’s in it for them to do business with you.
- Never underestimate the power of saying “thank-you.” Customers should never exit without being told that you appreciate their patronage.
The fundamental thing to remember is that most customers are reasonable: they can handle not always getting their way every time. What they truly want is customer service that can offer fast and convenient support, no matter what the delivered results may be.
And they want to be treated with a little respect. Give it to them. Your customers will thank you. And so will sales, marketing, and the rest of your company.