Even in the digital age, good customer service can do wonders for any small business. Given how many options people now have for every conceivable service – and how easy those options are to access – consumers are less likely than ever to tolerate lackluster customer service. The more valued a customer feels, the more apt they’ll be to grace you with their repeat business – even in the face of the occasional screw-up. Any small business owner interested in stepping up their customer game should consider the following pointers.
Be Mindful of Tone and Temperament
Tone and temperament are important in virtually every area of life – and customer service is far from an exception. If a customer feels as if they’re being treated rudely or their concerns are being trivialized, they’re unlikely to grace you with their business in the future. If you have prior customer service experience, you’re likely aware of how frustrating dealing with certain types of customers can be. However, a big part of customer service is keeping your cool and maintaining a courteous, professional tone throughout every interaction. Additionally, since some of us tend to project curtness and/or indifference without even meaning to, make sure that your staff is conscious of their tone and temperament whenever customer interactions are involved.
Respond to Complaints and Queries in a Timely Manner
No one relishes waiting for responses from businesses. Once a complaint or query has been submitted, most consumers want to have their concerns addressed posthaste. Needless to say, the longer people are forced to wait for a reply, the less keen they’re likely to be on giving you their business in the future. If a customer doesn’t receive a response within a reasonable time-frame, this communicates the idea that their needs are unimportant to your enterprise – and if there’s one thing consumers don’t appreciate, it’s feeling unimportant.
You can get on top of this problem by responding to any complaints or queries you receive during normal business hours in a timely manner. Providing a thoughtful response within one to three hours of receiving a communique from a customer can go a long way towards fostering trust and mutual respect. Furthermore, even if a complaint is sent in response to a mistake on your end, most people will be far more forgiving if their concerns are promptly addressed.
Choose Your Battles Very Carefully
When it comes to customer service, some of the most successful enterprises embrace the mantra “The customer is king.” While it’s important to take the needs of your customers into careful consideration, anyone who’s worked in customer service can attest to the fact that the customer is not, in fact, always right. In addition, customer requests can range from unreasonable to downright ridiculous.
Still, this isn’t to say that every disgruntled customer should be cast aside. Since word-of-mouth and repeat business are paramount to the success of every enterprise, you should be wary of burning your bridges with every patron who rubs you the wrong way. If a customer is outright threatening or makes demands that are simply not based in reality, then by all means, part ways with them. However, if they’re only mildly disgruntled and able to be reasoned with, you should try to work with them – and hopefully retain their business.
Enlist Outside Help
If your team members desperately need to step up their customer service game, don’t hesitate to enlist outside help. Companies that specialize in hospitality customer service training can thoroughly educate your staff on a variety of customer care essentials. No matter how inexperienced your staff is in customer service, the right training stands to improve their customer care and communication skills in a timely manner.
Providing first-class customer service isn’t nearly as daunting as some businesses make it look. The better your customer service, the more personally invested customers will feel in the success of your business – and the more likely they’ll be to give you their continued patronage. So, even if your business has experienced customer service issues in the past, it’s never too late to remedy these problems – and there’s no time like the present to get started. A few simple changes to your usual customer care practices can go a long way towards building trust and generating repeat business.