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Happy Customers = Successful Business

30 Jan 2019

Think about a customer’s interaction with your business from the first touch to the last. First touch points could be social media posts, your website, over the phone or in person, then customers move through your business ending with products and services delivered. During each of these interactions, your business needs to perform as an effective communicator with customer relations being appropriate and timely. For instance, your website needs to display useful information for current and potential customers. Front end staff should be responsive to calls and aim to address the caller’s needs promptly. Your services and products are delivered with professionalism and integrity. If your business is always aiming to perform better, then it will. Below are a few key areas to consider in building a sound approach to customer service.

Communication is key

Businesses need to be communicating in every way they can. Social media, coupled with regular emails to your customers should cover most of your bases. Not everyone is on social media, so your ever-important promotions and events need to be spread across all mediums in your power. Using text messaging to communicate with your customers is a mighty powerful tool. It is also, ten times cheaper than sending a letter and far more effective. Particularly, in the case of, urgent reminders or cancellations texting your customers is the most efficient way to communicate. Your customers will thank you and appreciate your attentiveness when you remind them about an event or a fantastic time-limited offer you have going. Check out the texting feature on our add-ons page for an easy way to instantly communicate with your customers.
Also, don’t forget all the old-fashioned ways we can communicate such as word of mouth, flyers, local newspapers and getting out in the community.

Complaints are just problems needing a solution

Is the customer, always right? In many cases, they are. Customers are your bread and butter; some are the jam and cream. Aside from all these food references customer complaints are a part of every business, how these complaints are handled is the essential area to get right. Listening is key. Understand the issue and if possible, try to address it on the spot. Letting issues fester will only lead to larger and more toxic situations for you to manage. If a swift solution isn’t possible, then gather all the information you can, empathise with your customer and give them a realistic time frame for your response.

Preparing for anything

Customers are allowed to complain but are not allowed to abuse staff. It is always good practice to train your staff in how you want them to deal with difficult customers. Arming staff with the necessary tools to deal with unhappy customers will protect your business from potential losses in customer and human resources. There are numerous articles, videos and web pages dedicated to this topic. I have listed below a few free websites that presented their information in a clear and concise way. My suggestions are by no means your only options. There are plenty of free and fee incurring books for download and webinars for you to explore.

Unhappy Customers - Mind Tools

A short video and step by step approach available for identifying and dealing with unhappy customers.

How to deal with difficult customers - Small Biz Trends

Delivers some insight into the various types of difficult customers and hints on how to deal with them all displayed in an infographic.

How to deal with difficult customers - Venghq

This detailed article provides business owners with some really useful tips on how to deal with customers and suggests methods you can use in your business to prevent difficult situations from arising.

Play to win

Aim to solve problems with a win for the customer and the company. Use negative customer feedback to your advantage. Log common issues found in your business, address the issue and if appropriate promote this new feature to potential customers.

Dazzle your customers

Once a day, dazzle a customer. Achieve this by going above and beyond the call of duty. Providing this type of high-level service regularly (not every customer) could result is some fantastic ‘word of mouth’ connections. Or some of these customers could become the stars of your Google ratings/comments and website testimonials.

Be open to feedback, not annoying about it

Do you ask for feedback from your customers? If you don’t ask, how do you know if your business is on track with your products and services? There are various other ways to gain customer feedback such as regularly reviewing attendance, sales and customer comments (written or verbal). While you don’t want to overwhelm your customers with questions regarding whether they ‘like this’ or ‘how did they find that?’ The aim is to portray your business as a receptive vessel for positive or negative feedback. Easier said than done, right?
As a consumer, I am mighty sick of being emailed a 5 to 10 question survey every time I interact with a business. I don’t mind being asked for feedback after I have had a really good experience, at this point, I am happy and willing to answer a question or even to be invited to write a quick testimonial or give them a star rating on Google. Asking for feedback needs to be timed right and requesting it after every interaction can wear a customer down. Remember you are not the only business asking for feedback. Strike when the iron is hot and ask customers for their feedback when they are happy and satisfied. Also, offer plenty of avenues for general feedback, good or bad, if they feel the need to express any.

Guiding your staff

It is essential that you arm your staff with the right tools to perform their role. Staff need to be well trained and understand how to treat and manage customers. No one likes writing procedures, but this is an important area of your business that needs to be crystal clear to your staff. A few short dot points about the kind of customer service your business wants to provide is all that is needed. This will give your staff some guidelines to follow and you some recourse if your staff member isn’t doing things the way you intended and potentially costing you customers/sales. There are oodles of examples of customer service policies online, and many of them seem over the top. The website below offers very clear and useful information that could be easily adapted for use in your business.

Customer service standards - The Thriving Small Business

Answering questions

Make sure your new staff know how to deal with the basics at least and can answer to a few questions before they are fielding calls solo. Nothing is more frustrating than calling a business, and the person on the other end has no answers or gives you the wrong information. A good mantra for new staff to live by is ‘if you don’t know, then find out, and get back to the customer.’ I don’t know, can never be the final sentence in a conversation.

Follow up

Always get back to people. Whether it is through email, text or phone, they a prompt response. Even if you don’t get back to them within a decent timeframe or later than originally specified, it is best to swallow your pride apologise for the late reply and provide them with your response. The saying ‘better late than never’ hasn’t dated.

Goals for your customer service team

What is your business’s main aim this term or year?
Are you putting your efforts into securing new customers or developing the participation of your current customers, or both? Staff at the front line need to be part of these marketing or sales plans. Their efforts at the coal face will directly affect the plans you have for your business.

We all know the slogan, ‘we are nothing without our customers’, and I am sure you try to think about this saying, or something similar when speaking to a time-sapping customer on a Friday afternoon.

Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us. Earl Nightingale

All businesses need customers to survive and evolve. Therefore, keeping customers happy with your service and products, and satisfied with your problem-solving capabilities will build brand loyalty and hopefully stimulate positive ‘word of mouth’ promotion.

May your customer interactions be happy and fruitful.

Caroline Leigh

Marketing and Sales - ThinkSmart Software

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