Monday, January 21, 2008

6 Tips to Improve Customer Service

Good customer service is one of the most important part of your business. It's essential to get repeat customers, the backbone of most businesses. And unsatisfied customers are always fast to spread their unhappiness. So here are a few tips about customer service:

1. Be polite and use appropriate style.
This is a must. Your clients will respect you a lot more if you act and sound professional. And many people will take offense at being addressed too familiarly.

2. The customer is always right.
That is an old saying, but always true. The problem or blame may be on the customer's side, but you should never tell this outright. If it's a problem on his side, just tell him the steps to fix it and be understanding. And, if the problem is on your side, do not be afraid to say sorry and explain the problem if the situation warrants it.

3. Offer a refund if the problem is too serious.
Some customers will not dare to ask for a refund, even if it's appropriate given the situation. Tell them yourself that you will refund them if they wish to, even if you have a clear guaranty displayed on your site.

4. Be willing to go the extra mile.
It's the little things that count. When you can do more than asked do not be afraid to, your customers will love you for it. For example, you can use pictures, screenshots or samples to answer a question instead of simply describing with words, or send a handwritten thank you note with your physical products.

5. Make your customer feel comfortable asking questions.
Answer all questions you receive promptly and politely. The fact that they may not be taking part in your latest promotion or buying your latest product doesn't make their question is less important. It may be less profitable for you, but your customer could not care less about these things. Who know, they could be planning a big purchase, or would have if they had been treated well.

6. Always follow-up if you expect a problem.
You do not need to follow your customers every step of the way. But if you notice a problem, or just answered a particularly complicated request, it's best to make sure everything is resolved before you move on. Make it easy to contact you if there is still something wrong.

Why Provide Good Customer Service

Have you heard people say that if not for customers, work will be a lot smoother? They ask questions for which the answers are so obvious. Or they can find the answers if they will just read the instructions that are provided with the product. They just have to call and ask all kinds of questions and sometimes you are not even the person who is supposed to handle such questions. Are you looking for good reasons that will help you feel better about this?

First thing is if there are no customers, then there is no business. If there is no business then you do not have a job. Does not even matter if yours is not a customer-facing job. Customers are needed. Question now is how you can look at the situation differently so that providing good service to the customers is something that you can be happy doing.

Basic reason, of course, is that you get paid to do the job and providing good customer service is part and parcel of the job. It does help to remind yourself that the organization promptly pays you and it is only fair to deliver your responsibility.

Next reason is that good customer service is the best pre-sales effort for the next purchase by the customer. People go all the way out to run promotions and write great copy to entice customers to buy their products. Nothing though can beat good customer service. There are customers who will repeatedly buy from the same company because they are happy with the service provided.

Good customer service is not about falling over yourself providing everything the customer asks for, but it is providing the customer what they rightfully should get for having bought a product from your company.

There is also a completely personal angle that you can look at where service is concerned. Most people nowadays are conscious of their social responsibilities and like to donate or make contributions to worthy causes. Why not make good customer service as such a contribution? In this case, you also get paid for it. In the words of N. Eldon Tanner, "Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth". The moment you can start thinking that service is something that you want to do, then every customer request will be much easier to respond to.

Is it going to be easy? Not all the time. There will be difficult situations but there will also be customers who will be very appreciative of the service that you provide. For those difficult situations, say to yourself that this is why you are paid a salary and just do it. The moment you stop fighting it, handling the situation gets less difficult.

Now, how do you handle difficult situations so that they do not upset you? The best way to handle this is to calmly listen to the customer. Many a time service representatives have a solution even before the problem has been described. Stop to listen first. Then ask clarification questions if necessary before providing the resolution.

Theodore Roosevelt said, "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care". It will do well to remember these words. If you can listen with a sincere desire to help and be happy to help the customer, you will feel good providing service. Some people even enjoy it. In addition, your whole attitude and listening with care will come through and even the customer's demeanor will change.

Good customer service is not about having a good customer service week once a year. It is about providing good service every day. As you start work daily, if you can accept that your purpose for being there is to respond to customer needs with concern and a desire to help, it will be a lot easier to get through work. You can even start enjoying it.

Remember at a minimum you are getting paid to respond to customer requests. You are also helping to drive more sales from customers because of the excellent service you help provide. Besides this, from a purely personal perspective, you get an opportunity to be of service even without getting out of your normal routine.

Start having a different outlook to providing good customer service. It will make a great difference to how you support your customers and importantly to how good you feel deep inside you.

Customer Service: Top 10 Things You Should NEVER Do

If you're a smart business owner or manager, you know that to gain new customers and keep existing ones, your employees must continuously provide exceptional customer service.

Unfortunately, getting that point across to your employees, who tend to lapse into a coma at the start of formal customer service training, can be challenging.

Because the use of humor often helps to make training more interesting (and therefore more effective), let's borrow a bit from late-night funny man David Letterman. Share the following Top 10 list with your employees to give them a chuckle--and sneak in a little customer service training at the same time!

"Top 10 Things You Should NEVER Do When Striving to Provide Exceptional Customer Service"

10. Post a sign proclaiming "Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!"

9. Laugh hysterically when a customer asks if you can provide requested information by the end of the day.

8. Put a customer's letter in the bottom of your In Box (otherwise known as the Black Hole).

7. Think about your dream vacation in Bakersfield while a customer is explaining what he/she needs.

6. Set a new land speed record heading out the back door when you spot a customer approaching with an "I have a problem" look on his/her face.

5. Do your famous grizzly bear impersonation when a customer interrupts your real job by asking for help.

4. Say "I'm working on that right now" when a customer calls to ask about the status of his/her request--while you're reading a tabloid story about celebrities who give their babies weird names.

3. Put your customer's call on hold while you head home for the weekend.

2. Use the following nonverbal cues while expressing your desire to help: sticking out your tongue, rolling your eyes, shaking your fist, pounding your head on the desk.

And the number-one thing you should NEVER do when striving to provide exceptional customer service...

1. Answer every question with "It beats the hell out of me" or "You've mistaken me for someone who cares" or "Why are you still here?" or "The dog ate my brain."

Here's one more important customer service tip you should share with your employees: everyone they deal with is a customer. This includes their coworkers, their subordinates, and their superiors (including you), as well as the people who buy your company's products or services. You can easily adapt the above Top 10 list to internal customer service tips by substituting the word "coworker" for "customer."