By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training
Tight economy! Reduced staff! Demanding customers!
These days it’s extra challenging to satisfy and keep customers. It’s even more important than ever because customer loyalty is generally considered the primary engine today to retain sales levels and gain an advantage over the competition. It’s been this way for a long time; it’s just getting more attention now.
There are hundreds of ways to do better. Want better ROI? Want to improve your customer service? Here are nine we like:
* Know your product and services . . . inside and out.
Not being knowledgeable about what you’re selling or talking about frustrates customers. An uneducated employee is semi-useless to a customer. Job knowledge is key in any position. If for any reason your company doesn’t offer job knowledge training, make it your own priority to find out as much as you can. Job knowledge is a key ingredient to serving customers.
* Believe in your product and services 150%.
We know of a salesperson who never had any formal sales training. However, based on the belief in the product, services and contagious enthusiasm, this person is a top seller. People LOVE to buy from people who get excited about what they offer. Customer service reps are sales people!
* Walk the walk, talk the talk. Practice what you preach.
A Ford dealer would not drive a GM car. Employees need to support their company’s product or services before they can expect their customers to have confidence in them.
* Keep your word.
Companies spend thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars advertising their services and products. They tell the customer they are THE BEST, THE ONLY, they are NUMBER ONE or “WE GUARANTEE OUR WORK” and it isn’t enough. Customers need to know you’ll do what you and your advertising says you will. If you claim to provide the ‘best of anything,’ make sure you keep your word. And be sure all employees keep their word. Telling a customer an item will be to them in seven working days, and then having it NOT show up reduces your value to them, creates doubt and they go somewhere else. It’s not rocket science; it’s not brain surgery. It’s plain old common sense.
* Return all calls and emails.
It boggles my mind when a call or an email is not returned. There’s not an excuse in the world I could buy when that happens. Sure, some of us get a lot of calls and aren’t able to return all of them in a timely manner. Well, then have the call returned on your behalf! It’s okay. But not returning an email? How much work does that take? DUH? Even when you’re not interested; it’s common courtesy to let the person know.
* Don’t ever forget “who brought you to the dance.”
A favorite of mine. In other words, there are usually customers who were with you from the start; who believed in the product or service and believed in you. They helped make your business a success, one way or another. A nice simple thank you note once in a while to those folks is an ego booster to them and you’ll feel good about it too.
* Make “No Ulterior Motive” calls or send notes.
Every once in a while, drop a note or make a phone call to customers (and prospective customers) without trying to ‘sell’ them something. Telephone Doctor labels those “no ulterior motive” (NUM) calls. They’re “just because” calls. . . and very welcomed. When was the last time you heard from a sales person or a company just to say “Hi?” (See what I mean?)
* Be in a good mood.
All the time! Be the person that when the customer leaves or hangs up the phone, they think to themselves, “That was a great call/visit.” Not in a good mood? Learn how to be. Remember one of our Telephone Doctor mottos: “A phony smile is better than a real frown.” Do you really think the runner up of the Miss America contest is as “thrilled for the winner” as she says or shows she is? Talk about a great big phony smile!
* Participate in customer service training programs at your company.
Sure, you know how to be a good employee. But everyone could use a refresher. And if there are no programs in place on customer service, ask for them. At best, you’ll be ahead of the competition, and at worst, you’ll at least be even with them. Customer service is not a department. It is a philosophy. A mentality. A culture. And it’s for the entire company. Everyone needs to embrace it – or it doesn’t work.
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