Honest, polite and personalised customer service is one of the most important marketing tools you have at your disposal. It doesn’t have to cost a lot and the return can be great.
So here’s what led me to thinking about customer service today…
I have just spent the last four days trying to sort out a mobile phone contract with one of the UK’s leading providers. I have spoken to seven different people and have had to send emails to two different addresses. When finally the problem with my account was rectified, along with a thin apology email, I was no longer able to take up the deal I was initially offered. I am now buying a mobile phone and taking out a SIM only contract because I cannot face another second on the phone with this organisation.
What shocks me about these technology businesses is the lack of an integrated internal system that enables departments to communicate with each other. As a result customers have to tell their story over and over again to different staff members, until they find someone that can help. Although an exasperating experience, I did feel that the staff I spoke to genuinely wanted to help but they did not have the tools to empower them to do so, which was frustrating for both parties.
Where large businesses can often fail because of their size, small businesses have the advantage of being able to offer exceptional customer service much more easily. As a small business you can respond more quickly to the customers’ needs and offer a more personalised experience.
So spend a little time and effort on implementing the list below and customer service could be your greatest marketing weapon, giving you the edge over your competitors.
- A quick response
- Establish correctly what the customer wants and why
- Personalise the service – follow up on what you say you’re going to do and keep in touch with regular updates to build your relationship
- Try to exceed expectations, for example if you have said you will be in touch within 48 hours, try to answer more quickly
- Think about ways you can offer additional value to the customer but with little extra cost to you
- Get to know your customers’ names, interests and preferences; ask them how they are getting on with your product or service
- Remember to monitor your customer service, if you don’t track it you can’t see where you need to improve (consider a good CRM system)
- As a small business you have the flexibility to go the extra mile to make a customer feel valued, which large businesses (like mobile phone operators!) don’t
- Give your customer a named contact if they have any queries
- Reward your valued customers with a discount or a perhaps a meal out
- When a customer complains, don’t panic, listen, go away and research, get back to them promptly with what you are doing to sort it out, then sort it out! Complaining customers can become your most loyal customers if handled correctly.
Hope these tips have been useful. It’d be good to hear your customer service experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly!