During our Round Table Conversation at Business for Business Nanaimo North this week, we discussed the importance of quality customer service, and building customer relations.
- How do you define customer service for your business?
- Do you have a system and skilled people in place to provide quality service?
- Do you treat your customers like you would like to be treated?
There are various definitions of quality customer service, but I like this one by Paul Mckinney in Study.Com:
“Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met. Customer service is meeting the needs and desires of any customer.”
What are some of the key elements of quality Customer Service that are important to your clients?
If you want to be proactive I suggest that you talk with your present customers who continually buy your products and/or services, and ask them what are their expectations and why do they continually buy from you.
Why guess – go directly to them and ask pertinent questions for their honest feedback.
What are some of the characteristics of quality customer service?
- Promptness: Answer promptly and deliver promptly. Under promise and over perform.
- Listening: Customers need to feel that you have listened to them and heard their needs. Even if you cannot solve their problem they have been heard.
- Patience: when dealing with their problems take the time to ask questions and ensure that they agree with your interpretation of their needs. Provide competent service instead of rushed service.
- Politeness: Saying ‘hello,’ ‘good afternoon,’ and ‘thank you very much’ are a part of good customer service. For any business, using good manners is appropriate whether the customer makes a purchase or not.
- Product knowledge: Know your products/and or services in depth. Then you can best help solve your customer’s problems.
- Be positive: Your tone and words need to convey positive actions. Statements like “I can’t or I will not” are negative in nature and reduce confidence in you resolving their issues. “I can or I will” convey positive actions and reduce customer anxiety.
- Professionalism: Training your staff in quality customer care skills and monitoring their progress will ensure a level of professionalism. Professionalism shows the customer they’re cared for.
- Personalization: using the customer’s name provides recognition and a personal touch. Customers feel that you are focusing on them and their needs.
And then there is social media.
Social media can be a great way to expand your business but it can also be a curse. In today’s internet world of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. you want to ensure that you have more positive reviews than negative reviews.
Since this is a critical area these days I suggest that you contract or hire the experts who live and breathe in this part of the world. People are people and you do not know what side of the bed they got up on that day.
They could have a valid reason for a complaint and you need to hear it, recognize it and verify it clearly with them. Having a skilled customer service rep on top of it every day is critical in controlling a positive image and showing your ideal customers that you take action.
You may have heard of the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) that states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
In business, roughly 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.
In your social media relationships, you want more than 80% positives and less than 20% negatives. Even when people read negative comments about your company, your ideal customers need to see that you are actively trying to resolve problems that really do apply to your company’s products and /or services.
Also keep in mind that there are good customers and bad customers. Drop your bad customers (or send them to your competition) and attract more good customers with your words and actions.
Positive actions retain and attract customers and negative actions or inaction cause customers and potential customers to leave.
Happy customers are your future! Take care of them to ensure future growth.
John Boudreau, Nanaimo North
John is a Partner Advisor with the Great Performances Group. He supports the growth of small businesses on central Vancouver Island, and throughout British Columbia. John has extensive experience in sales and sales management.