How to make your customers happy (and keep them that way)
At some point, you’ve experienced bad customer service. Remember when you called the credit card company only to encounter a series of recorded messages that didn’t address your question? Or, the time you called your doctor’s office to get a prescription refilled, and an unhelpful person answered the phone and said “I can’t help you” before hanging up?
The reality is that if a customer has one unpleasant interaction with a customer service representative, salesperson, or installer, it is a black mark on the entire company. The key to successful customer service and support is to not make your customers feel like you’ve felt in the past. Make sure that customers feel good when they leave your business, and they will come back.
Put the customer first
To keep a customer coming back, simply serve him or her well. The customer and his or her needs always come first. There’s an old saying in service industries: the customer is always right. And while this might not be strictly true, if you put the customer first and actively listen to what he or she says, you can make them want to come back.
Successful businesses train their employees to focus on what the customer is saying so the customer’s needs are met. In order for your business to be successful, all of your employees should talk to and listen to customers.
For example, let’s say a customer incorrectly claims that they saw an ad for a 50 percent off sale at your business. Even if your company isn’t having a sale, if you listen to what the customer is saying, you can keep their business. You might realize that if you offer to beat a competitor’s price by 5 percent, instead of giving the customer 50 percent off, you can keep their business.
Take the extra step
Beating competitor prices, discounts, longer hours, free coffee, or free mugs: all of these show customers you are willing to take that extra step to please them.
Some of the most effective extras are very basic. These include answering the phone by the third ring, being happy while at work (customers can tell if you’re not happy to be there), greeting return customers by name, and answering questions correctly and efficiently the first time.
Make your customers into fans by going the extra mile. Here’s an example: Bathroom Depot needed a postcard to advertise a special on frameless shower door installations, but Mark, the manager, waited until the week before to place the order. The postcards came in, and Mark discovered an error: the postcards said 75 percent off, but the sale was supposed to be 35 percent off. The cards with 75 percent off were not usable, and new cards had to be printed in time for the sale. In order to get the postcards out on time, Mark had to mail them the next day.
Mark called Sal’s Print Shop and explained that it was his error, but that the postcards were incorrect. Sal’s didn’t charge for new postcards, printed new cards and made sure they were mailed on time. Now, Mark recommends Sal’s to his friends, and it’s the only shop Mark uses. By going the extra mile and providing excellent customer service, Sal’s got Mark to tell other people to use the business.
Manage customer expectations
Usually, managing customer expectations is simply a matter of all parties agreeing on what is to be done and delivering what they promise. However, when unexpected com-plications occur, effective communication and previously agreed-upon backup plans can impact the service recovery outcome.
For example, if you can’t complete an installation because a product delivery is late, talk to your customer about the situation. If they are aware of the reasons behind the delay, they will be more accepting. Communication is key.
Don’t get defensive
When an irate customer is complaining or venting, it’s easy to get defensive. You can never win these disagreements, and if you take them personally, the confrontation will really get out of hand. The bottom line is that this is not good business. You will never win an argument with your customer; if you do, you lose their business.
There is only one way to survive an unhappy customer: you have to realize
that they’re not unhappy with you; they’re angry at your business. Your job is to figure out what you can do to make them happy again. You need to act like you don’t take their insults and attacks personally so you can serve them well.
Transform mistakes into recurring business
Mistakes happen, and when they do, they present an opportunity to show how good your customer service is. Studies have shown that a satisfied customer will tell two to three people about their experience with your company. A dissatisfied consumer, however, will complain to 8-10 people, and some will push that number to 20.
But here’s the opportunity: an unhappy customer will become loyal if you fix his or her complaint quickly. Eighty percent of these folks will come back if you’ve treated them fairly. Every day you have the chance to transform your mistakes into recurring business.
Content courtesy of MyGlassClass.com, a state-ofthe-art online technical school created by the National Glass Association, www.glass.org, to provide glass companies a convenient, affordable and comprehensive resource for improving worker skills. This material is excerpted from the MyGlassClass.com course, “Customer Service Principles.”