Good Customer Service - Improving Customer Relations, Skills, Tips
In the modern era of online shopping, customer service is more important than ever. You need excellent staff that can relate personally with customers and build relationships to encourage the initial sale and hopefully follow-up sales. Customers visit your shop or retail outlet to research the products, but they may not buy from you. They will stroll though your outlet to physically see, touch and try the goods. However, many may have no intention of buying from you.
The visit is merely to check the goods so that they are sure that the item will suit them. However there are many apps that allow a customer to compare your price with that offered by others in the vicinity and further away. They can look up what other stores are offering for the same goods.
Many people like to buy online, not only because it is cheaper, but because they can get free home delivery. You have the customer in your shop or outlet, and you need good staff and excellent customer service to convince them to buy from you. You need to convince the customer that you offer the best deal and that they are buying from a genuine 'friend' that will look after all their interests.
For advice on developing negotiation skills see: The Art of Persuasion: Learn Convincing Negotiation Skills, Ways to Win .
This article provides advice on how to improve customer relations, skills and tips. But remember that the foundation for this is excellent staff that have these skills.
Tips and Skills
Treat Customers as Individuals and develop personal relationships - You and your staff must treat your customers as individuals. The customer should be at the heart of your business not the product or the service that you provide. Build relationships that will encourage people to come back and buy again from you. One of the problems with online shopping is that people get ripped-off and don't get exactly what they order, delivery is delayed and they may get out-of-date models. If you can build trust and reliability you may develop long-term customers that keep coming back to buy from you.
High Quality Customer Service cannot be provided by Low Quality Staff - Getting the right staff that are highly experienced in providing excellent customer service and can build personal relationships with established and new customers. You may have to pay more from them.
Good Customer Relations reflects the Quality of the Internal Relationships between Staff and Management - Employees tend to take their cue from management. Do you take time to greet your employees enthusiastically every day; are you polite and considerate in your dealings with staff; do listen to the ideas that your staff have, and you try to meet their requests and suggestions as a partnership? Poor customer service is often a reflection of the relationship between employees and management.
Do you really know who your Customers? - When a regular customer come into your shop or outlet can you and your staff call them by name? Everyone likes to feel important. People are self-centred. Greeting a customer using their name is a simple way to start and you need to show your customers that you know you value them as customers. Regular courtesy calls, birthday cards and deal offers are all part of this as long as they are not intrusive and unwanted - always check that your customer wants to received this feed back.
Do your customers know who you are? - Management that is visible and shows personal interest in customers is important. If your customers saw you in the store or street would they recognize and acknowledge you? Could they respond with your name? The Manager should be easily accessible and be seen as part of the customer relationship strategy and plan. Customers should only to beckon to get a manager to talk with them.
Good customer service needs to go the extra mile, explicitly - This willingness must not be mere words - you need to demonstrate it. You can do this by offering a special 'mates rate' deal, include a thank-you note in a customer's package; send a birthday card; inform them of special deals, request fee-back about the product to ensure the customer is completely satisfied. There are many ways you can keep in touch with your customers and show that you care and value them as customers.
Do your Staff Greet Customers the moment the enter or at least within 30-40 seconds upon entering? Is it possible a customer could enter your business, look around, and leave and go outside without being acknowledged? This is a great way to lose sales and destroy relationships. You don't have to be pushy it is simply a matter of saying " Hello, we appreciate your coming in, can we help with anything". Some customers want to be left alone but a greeting is worthwhile.
Give Customers the Benefit of the Doubt - Proving a customer that they are wrong or ignorant is not worth the risk of losing them. Always be polite and offer correct information and let them make the decision about who is right.
Make sure you have a good depth of knowledge about your products - Keep good information about your products including size and specifications
If a customer makes a special request make sure you try to meet it completely. The customer has shown their interest and this is a major step forward. Try to always give the customer what they want.
Provide customer service training or your staff and seek feedback from customers about individual staff - Always provide guidelines for what to say in most circumstances and give them training and feedback about how they are performing. Make sure your staff know what to do and say including answering phone calls.
Ask your customers what they think of your company and the service they provide - Prepare a Customer Feedback Card and encourage your customers to response with rewards and offers. Keep it short and simple. Focus on what they like; what they don’t like; what could be improved; what could be changed; and request suggestions and comments.
Offer Loyalty Rewards - Business success depends more on keeping customers and not losing new customers. Everyone that is dissatisfied with your service may mean that you will lose 10 or 20 other customers as they will tell their friends. Offer incentives for bringing new customers to your business. Losing longstanding and loyal customers is especially harmful. Repeat business is critical to your success and is much easier to maintain than to attract new customers. Here are seven ways to keep your customers coming back.
Set realistic deadlines with your customers and always meet or beat them - Few things impress a client more than when you meet their requirements before the agreed deadline. Do it fast. Do it right. Do it properly and thoroughly. Clients will always want it done "yesterday," but set realistic deadlines and stick with them. It is better to set a deadline that you can deliver early, than accept an unrealistic deadline and deliver it late.
Treat your customers like human beings - Treating them with dignity and with mutual respect. You don't necessarily nee to bow to every whim that a customer makes. Makes sure its reasonable and sensible.
Go beyond the minimum to make your customers like you - You'll get repeat business by going that extra mile and it will generate 'word of mouth advertising' as they will tell there friends.
Don't make excuses - If you have made a mistake and what has happened is your fault - apologise and admit to it. Don't blame the customer, the circumstances, someone else, or anything else. Don't take it personally! Generally the customer will be angry about the situation and what has happened, and not necessarily angry at you. Get over it.
Listen to your customers - Don't be arrogant assume that you know exactly what they want. They will generally have valid things to say and good ideas that can be very valuable for your business.
Think through what you're promising - Don't get carried away and offer much more than you or your business can easily and reliably deliver.
Make Sure that your Customers feel like Top Priorities - Don't multitask, especially when answering the phone. Spend the extra time it takes to really pay attention to them and their needs. Customers always know when you are doing something else and will resent it.
Deal with problems straight away - It is hard to deal with mistakes, errors or things that are something unpleasant, but once you deal with them it will 'clear the decks' and you can move on.
Always Follow up, especially New Customers - Call after a problem such as a delay has been dealt with. Ask whether the customer is satisfied with the product or service or when a customer has received a large order, to find out how things went.
© 2011 Dr. John Anderson
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