Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin
Quality customer service is very important to any business. You may have a very good product, but if the customers are not treated well, they will not come back.
Customers are the lifeblood of any company. If they are satisfied, they will become your regular customers.
Good customer service helps you form a better relationship with your clients. It is a tool which can help you achieve your sales goals. Happy and contented clients refer you to other business prospects.
Note, however, that customer service is a very large subject matter and every year dozens of books on that topic come off the press. It will be a good investment of your time to read some of them.
In the meantime, here are my suggestions to jumpstart your never-ending quest for customer satisfaction:
• Make customer service a policy.
Make sure that providing good customer service is written in your employee manual. Everybody, from the staff to the managers, must commit themselves to follow the policy. If the bosses are practicing providing good customer service, it will exude to the downlines.
• Greet your customers.
Once you see your customers, immediately greet them. The best time to greet them is from the time they walk in to your office. A warm and sincere greeting is usually appealing. It provides a friendly atmosphere, and makes the client feel acknowledged or accepted. It shows you are polite and well-mannered. Memorize each clients’ name, company, and position. It adds personal touch.
• Make sure to keep your communication lines open.
The clients will surely appreciate if you can easily be contacted. Give them your numbers, as well as your email address. If they called while you were out, make sure you return their calls.
• Listen to what your customers have to say.
Pay attention to their suggestions. Be open to comments and criticisms.
• Do not promise anything that you cannot keep.
If you promised a deadline, make sure you beat it. If you make an appointment with your client, make sure you are there on time.
• Deal with complaints.
If you made mistakes, fix them. Make yourself readily available. Do not hide from your clients. Show them that you are handling the situation. Allow the customer to vent his or her anger, and then deal with the problem at once. Let the customer know that you are on top of everything. Rectify the errors immediately.
• Apologize for any inconveniences that result.
Say sorry, and be genuinely concerned. If the situation requires, you may even have to give commensurate compensation. Do not wait until you get a letter from his / her lawyer.
• Provide something extra.
The customers will love it if you give them discounts or freebies. If you were able to close a deal with them, you may show your gratitude by sending gifts. Be thoughtful. They will also appreciate if you remember their birthdays or anniversaries.
• Thank your customers.
Always show appreciation to your clients – not just after a transaction but also with every interaction, even if the person was just inquiring or looking around.
• Give repeat customers special treatment.
Repeat customers are the primary source of your income. Take care to know their name and to give them incentives to continue patronizing your establishment.
Make your business known for its good customer service. Positive word of mouth is more powerful than paid advertisements. Overtime, it will help bring in more loyal clients. Devote time in training the staff on how to provide good customer service. After all, it is the name of your company that is at stake.
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