In some industries, service has become a quaint memory, and customers are reduced to selecting the provider that costs or annoys them the least. But the golden rule has not been repealed, and pleasing your customers can create a powerful competitive advantage. A few simple changes may well increase your bottom line.
We all hate having our time wasted, and businesses are among the worst offenders. To distinguish your firm from the rest, establish the following customer service policies and procedures.
- Communicate with your customers. Return calls promptly, update customers about matters in progress, and explain delays as soon as you can.
- Don't make your customers jump through hoops. Offer discounts at the point of sale, rather than giving out coupons or making buyers apply for mail-in rebates. If you employ an automated phone system, provide a simple method for reaching a live person.
- Don't worry about trying to save face. If you're even partly wrong, apologize and proceed to a resolution. Train your employees to do the same, and reward them for positive outcomes.
Let customers know you're there for them and that you regard them as more than mere cash cows. Listen to their concerns, and address them promptly. If someone is unhappy with a purchase (whether product or service), fix it, replace it, or refund the payment in full. At worst, the loss won't be compounded by damage to your reputation. At best, the money will come back multiplied by repeat business and referrals.
Quality service is a powerful marketing tool that's surprisingly easy to deploy. Simply imagine how you would want to be treated, and provide that treatment to your customers. As their satisfaction increases, your profits will follow.
Pay attention to your customers' needs. You'll enjoy higher profits as a result.