We all know the truth. It ALL comes down to relationship: in business, in personal life, in community. Some relationships are good, some are bad, some are downright toxic! With your customers the relationship is called “customer service” and if this relationship between yourself, your staff and your customers isn’t healthy, vibrant and thriving, your business is either currently in, or will shortly be, in tough shape.
Before I get to today’s guest article and present Barbara’s 8 tips for healthy customer service, I’m going to give you a big one from me.
Right now, everyone wants *the reason* for business difficulty to be the default of “the economy” or “these economic times.” I won’t sugar coat it for you. B.S. Just B.S. It is up to each business to find a reason, make a reason and then keep enforcing it, for customers to come in and come back. Is your product or service valued as a “nice thing to have” or essential & valuable to your customer? Is your business warm and inviting? Are you and your staff friendly and positive?
The old adage still holds true for all business, when things are good they are “great!” And when they aren’t, they are “unbelievable!” (said with a big, genuine smile). If you or your staff are talking within earshot of any customer or potential customer about how “bad things are,” you should just close your doors TODAY and be done with it. If there was ever a self-fulfilling prophecy, it is “talk bad, get bad.” Let me ask you, will you buy something for a business that may or may not be open in a month unless you are shopping a going out of business sale? Your customers won’t either.
You may be thinking, “But, Cheryl! You are asking me to lie!” Well, in this case, I’m telling you to fake it ’til you make it. Just don’t talk about it! Talk about positive things. If you can’t find any, call me! I’ll give you a whole handful of them!!
Thus ends today’s tough love segment of our program! Now onto Barbara! I love Barbara Wold’s retail tips. They are smart, savvy and common sense. Exactly what most of us need.
Eight Top Tactics for Healthy Customer Service
1. Hire the Best People You Can Find
The life blood of any service operation is the front line staff, the ones who have more contact with customers than anyone else.
2. Develop a Success Culture
The culture of a customer service organization is critically important. One or two bad apples can, and will, if not removed, ruin the barrel.
3. Look for the Real Source of Initial Customer Contacts
Most customers don’t contact your organization because of a customer service issue — at least not initially anyway. Look for what has caused the contact.
4. Look After and Empower Your Front-line People
Make sure your front-line people have the systems, information and processes they need to satisfy their customers during the first contact.
5. Be Proactive
If you have an on-going customer issue, never wait for them to contact you to check what has happened about their problem.
6. Focus on First Contact Fix
Focus on tracking, analyzing and removing the drivers of repeat contacts. Never fall into the trap of driving down contact resolution times to the extent that it risks not satisfying all of the customers’ questions or concerns.
7. Treat Complaints as a Blessing
Complaints are a gift — cherish them. Every complaint is an opportunity to make things right, review and improve your processes, and impress your customer. It’s the customers who don’t complain that go to a competitor — so make it easy to complain and put your best people at your complaint desk.
8. Coach, Coach and Coach Again
Training and then frequent coaching and feedback are a key factor in supporting customer service advisors to quickly achieve competence, and to build upon that to become role models for other staff.
Copyright 2011. Reprinted with permission from Barbara Wold’s Retail & Consumer Tips, email@example.com.