Customer Service Tips

Today's blog post is all about customer service.  Some consumers might ask "Customer service? What's that?"  In this day and age, it seems like more consumers are complaining about the lack of customer service, and the decline of employee friendliness.  They're constantly fed up because they have to deal with rude employees, which results in loss of customers for that company.  One of World Technology Network's columnists pretty much sums up customer service in a nutshell, "Great customer service died a slow death during the past twenty years.  It died due to neglect, greed, selfishness, and rude behavior."

So how can you avoid this epidemic and be that company that customers keep returning to?  Here are 6 tips that will boost customer loyalty:

1.  It all starts in the hiring process - Your company's customer service will only be as good as the people providing it.  If you're recruiting, failing to notice that your hiree isn't personable and friendly can cost you.  It's important to train your employees to be nice and understanding (this seems like a no-brainer, but if it was, why is customer service so bad nowadays?)  and to teach them how to handle different scenarios.  It's actually a chain of events that can become a disastrous snow-ball effect if not implemented from the top: in order for customers to be treated well, employees must be treated well, so their managers and bosses must treat employees well.  A cutthroat boss or team manager is the easiest way for employees to hate their job and take out their anger on the customers.

2.  Know your customers - Get to know your customers on a personal level.  People like it when others remember their problems or what's going on in their lives.  If you're a large company, get to know your "VIP customers."  This may sound like you're playing favorites, but it's important that you are up to date with your most frequent customers.  Even if you don't have the time to remember all your customers, refresh yourself before you see them (if your company has appointments and such) or have an information database that you can easily pull up when talking to the customer.

3.  Know yourself (and make sure your customers know you too)- Make sure your company is streamlined- everyone has to be on the same wagon and know all the company policies.  Customers don't like to see inconsistencies with their brands; once your company's employees are well informed on rules and what they can and cannot do, relay this information to customers.  Giving customers information will make them more knowledgeable when they make their buying decisions.

4.  Encourage feedback - There's no easier way to see what customers think than to ask them directly.  Create polls on your Facebook page and website, and even have an incentive for replies.  Encourage customers to give you not only positive reviews, but negative feedback - you should always be looking for ways to improve.

5.  Don't just listen - Now that you've gotten all this feedback, respond to it.  Customers like to see that their suggestions are being implemented.  You have to engage with your audience in order to communicate effectively with them.  Not only can you be there for customers by making yourself searchable on social networks and the internet, but replying quickly and directly shows the customer that you care.

6.  Don't sell the product - Sell your company's mission statement.  Let's say I'm a panini sandwich business.  I'm not going to try to convince everyone that a panini will make them happier during lunchtime, but that I vow to give you the best tasting panini ever since I believe lunchtime should be happytime.  Sounds kind of funny, but when you aim at giving your customers what you vowed you would give instead of just shoving your product down their throats, they'll be more likely to come back.  And don't be afraid to admit you're wrong or that you don't know the answer.  State that you don't know and then turn around and fix the problem or find the solution.  Never lie and try to make your product or company something it's not.

What other customer service tips does your company give to your employees.  We want to know!

[photo courtesy: Flickr user: passiveagressivenotes]

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