February 13, 2017
Customer service is a key component of any successful business. Below are a brief discussion and reminder of some elements of good customer service.
Make your customers feel welcome. It should be a routine part of the business to make your customers feel welcome, but some businesses have challenges in this area. Making your customers feel welcome fulfills a basic human need, and it is important at every point of contact; whether it is in person, on the phone, or with email. It sets the stage for everything to come with the customer relationship. Hire good employees who have a servant’s heart, are naturally friendly and like to serve others. This is a quality that you have to look for in employees as it’s hard to teach. Also, reinforce to employees on a regular basis how important it is to make every customer feel welcome. Remember to model the behavior you want your employees to imitate. When we as customers encounter a business that makes us feel welcome, we cannot help but walk away with a good feeling. Most of us have heard the saying “people do business with people they like.” Employees who are friendly and helpful and who take care of customers’ needs are well-liked, even loved!
Employee knowledge of your products and services. Product knowledge is essential because your good employees want to feel competent in their ability to serve the customer. Not only to make customers feel welcome but to be able to help customers with their need or problem. Formal and on-the-job training is how this is accomplished. For new employees, consider using the buddy system where new people work closely with an experienced person. We see this done well in some restaurants; a new server is partners with an experienced server who is good at their position. The new employee can use their formal training in real customer situations and also know they have someone close by to help if needed.
Being responsive and communicate. Train employees to do what they say they are going to do and do it on time. If things get delayed for some reason, train employees to contact the customer and inform them of the reason for the delay.
The lifetime value of a customer. Teach your employees the important concept of a lifetime value of a customer. Show the amount of money a typical long term customer will spend in their “lifetime.” The number will surprise most employees, and they will change how they view and serve customers. They will see the importance of turning new customers into long-term ones.
Empower employees. Enable your employees to solve customer problems. After proper training, give them the latitude within reason to take care of the questions, problems, and situations that come up in every business day. If you have hired good people and trained them well, they will strive to do the right thing.
At the end of the day the only important measure of a satisfied customer is this: would your customer recommend your business to their friends and family. Having better customer services skills in all levels of your organization will help ensure positive recommendations.
Business Tips is provided by Dave Erickson, Director and Certified Business Advisor, at Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this Business Tips article, contact him at David.Erickson@angelo.edu.