By: Serena Smith, Director of Partner Development for Quikstone Capital Solutions
Now more than ever, customer service is the lifeblood of a business. Exceptional service and satisfaction make your customers stay loyal to you through the current hard times and those that lie ahead. Repeat business will fuel the bottom line, so ensuring your customers are satisfied with every visit and purchase is vital to continued success. It’s important to realize that you must treat every customer experience with care. With customer reviews becoming so readily available online, your business is open to increased exposure as well as criticism. For a fledgling business, just one bad review could mean a significant drop in revenue. There are many aspects of excellent customer service, and it is necessary to train your staff to handle any situation. Here are some of the critical ingredients of quality customer service.
Ensuring your staff is appropriately trained on your products and services is the first step in creating a great customer experience. When a customer has a question, prepare your staff with an appropriate and accurate answer that allows your customer to make an educated purchase decision. This will help you to avoid dissatisfied customers and returns.
Understanding a customer’s needs and being empathetic to their complaints can help defuse an otherwise volatile situation. When a customer has a complaint, convey an understanding attitude and determine what you can do to make that customer satisfied. If a customer feels that you don’t care about their issue, no matter how big or small, it could spell disaster for your reputation. Many of these reactions come from fear and stress, so be kind when enforcing rules and trying to diffuse the situation quickly.
Communication is essential in all aspects of business but particularly when it comes to customer service. Ensuring that your clients are well informed before making a purchase increases their likelihood of being happy with that purchase. Whether it be a question or complaint, your staff will need to be experts in active listening. Knowing what your customer is asking and identifying the root of their complaint makes for a fast and easy resolution. Ensure that you communicate hours, current rules and policies, and any changes in the products and services you are offering. This will keep your customers from being disappointed.
Professionalism takes many different forms depending on your industry and business model. This can mean prompt service, appropriate attire, professional demeanor, and several other aspects of hospitality. A big part of running a small business is being personable and transparent, but it’s still important to maintain a certain level of professionalism.
In hard times like these, consumers are very picky about where they spend their money. Customers that feel like their business is appreciated are likely to return. Show appreciation by offering frequent customer discounts or simply by saying thank you for your business. Customer rewards programs are a great way to build a loyal customer base and ensure customer satisfaction. Showing appreciation for your employees also improves your chances of having happy customers as your worker’s attitudes will significantly affect their performance.
Body language is one of the keys to ensuring your communication comes across as sincere. It also displays confidence in your product or service without saying a word. Alternatively, having poor body language can reflect a lack of enthusiasm or energy, negatively impacting the customer experience.
Knowing How and When to Apologize
It sounds like a simple concept, but knowing when a customer expects an apology and how to deliver that apology can have a significant impact on conflict prevention and resolution. Sometimes a simple apology is enough to calm an irritated customer. Other times it may be necessary to sweeten your apology by offering a discount.
If a customer has a complaint, it’s imperative that you respond in a timely fashion. Quickly addressing and bringing resolution to an issue or complaint can have long-lasting effects. Providing an adequate response in a short period of time can help businesses regardless of the original problem.
Sometimes quality customer service comes at a price, but if you ask any successful small business owner, it’s worth every penny. Whether it be more staffing, a new website, or an updated communication system, companies such as Quikstone Capital Solutions can provide you with the fast funding necessary to make your customer service top-notch.