Business is an exchange of good and/or services for money. To reach this point, you need to get someone to open up their wallet to you. It is entirely possible the task businesses have before them might be the toughest one to master. If they do not master it, they will go out of business. They will go under and be unemployed, often starting back at square one.
The ideal business model will have customers coming to you, ready to spend money on whatever you are selling. Companies exist not only to fill the needs of people, but to satisfy their wants. There are few businesses where a slew of random people walk through the front door willing and planning to spend money. Can you think of one?
If you are reading this, then chances are high that you are already an owner of a small business. Imagine this scenario. Someone walks in the front doors of your business already planning on spending money. They might browse your offerings, but they already know what they want from you and how much they are going to spend. You stand back and give them time. When they are ready, they speak to one of your associates or employees, happily pay, and leave. There is no selling on your part. Did I just create the ideal situation or what?
Can you guess where this happens every day? Try the grocery store. A need has been established and filled. People walk into grocery stores every day more than happy to find ways to pay for their goods. Take that same scenario and add poor customer service to the mix. Now it does not matter what you are selling; people will not come back to buy more.
There’s a fine line between the “customer is always right” cliché and allowing the customer to take advantage of you. This is where excellent customer service skills come into play. Here are six different ways you can use to either provide or improve your customer service skills.
1. Treat your frontline associates with respect and dignity.
Happiness is contagious. When your employee is happy, they are more likely to smile and converse with your clients or customers. People do not eat at restaurants because they are incapable of cooking for themselves. They eat at restaurants for the experience. To the customer, it will not matter how good your food is. If the waiter provides poor service, the restaurant will struggle with customer retention and loyalty. Customers will not come back.
2. Thank your customers.
A small thank you is not only free, but it goes a long way to keeping your customers happy. Thank them, and show it by how you serve them. With the world growing smaller and smaller every day, remember ~ they do not have to spend their money on anything you are offering.
3. Reply and review customer compliments and complaints.
Bigwigs like Apple® and Disney® have this habit that keeps them in business. They find out what their target audience wants, and give it to them. One of the few things that create customer loyalty (and therefore, retention), is the ability to connect with your customers. Don’t make decisions that will alienate your customers. For many small businesses, they are your lifeline.
4. Meet and greet your customers.
Many corporate offices require their frontline employees to tell every customer hello. Some attempt to require a smile out of them. Is this too much? That depends on you. If you do not look up and say the phrase in a monotone voice, you give the impression you do not want to be there. If a customer receives a real “Hello” or a warm “Good Morning”, they are much more likely to remain your customer.
On a side note, in my town, there is this fast food restaurant I enjoy going to. I am a loyal customer; not because of the food or service, but because it really does seem that all the employees there are genuinely happy. The entire crew gives off this positive vibe when they greet me at the door. It makes a difference.
5. Cultivate your employees’ personal growth.
Happy employees are loyal employees. It makes more business sense to pay your employees well and reward them than it does to do the opposite and spend more on training new employees who will end up leaving like everyone else. Just like businesses need to connect with their customers, you need to connect with your employees. Treat them well, and they will treat your customers well in turn.
6. Remember what the root of customer service is.
The heart of customer service is helping people. You can do this in any number of ways, from treating your employees well to ironing out the kinks in your return policy to make it as easy as possible. As a business owner, there will always be things that command your attention. Prioritize your time to ensuring that you have a reputation for offering excellent customer service.