Good customer service is critical in any business but even more important if you want to grow. If you deliver a great experience to your customers you can build a steady flow of referrals that will give you a healthy, growing and profitable business. So, how do you make sure your customers are getting great service? Here are six tips to get you started.
1. Hire “customer friendly”
You can train, teach and coach a lot of things but being friendly is not one of them. And beyond just friendly, you should look for employees who make a habit of focusing on the customer, who go out of their way to take care of customer’s needs. One of the best ways to do this is to keep your eyes open when you are a customer. When you work with retail people who are very good, tell them what you do. Start a relationship so if they look for other work they can call you.
2. Know what your customers want.
There are two effective ways to discover what your customers want. First, just ask. If you have good rapport with them, then ask them directly. If that’s not comfortable, use a short survey as suggested by Fred Reichheld in “The Ultimate Question”. If you use surveys, make them short and easy. No more than three questions.
The other way is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Have your employees do a group exercise where they write down two lists. One is the top 10 things their customers want from them. The other is top 10 things they want when they are the customer. Then, in a group, share the results. It’s a good way to get people to focus on what customers really want.
(See the results of my company’s survey on what customers really want here.)
3. Post reminders
This sounds basic but it works. Make posters of the top things your customers want from you. Include your “Customer Service Standards” so everyone knows what the expectations are. Place them around your business so everyone can see them. Also, use post-it notes, emails, “customer service calendars” and any other fun ways you can think of to refresh your employee’s memories.
4. Celebrate good news
When customers give you and your staff good feedback, publish it. Have a party! Let all your staff know about it. Show your employees how important it is.
5. Learn from negative feedback
Avoid criticizing specific employees but make sure everyone knows when there is bad news. Use it as a learning opportunity. Discuss what went wrong and how you might prevent it in the future.
6. Get customers involved
Make it easy for your customers to be a part of your customer service efforts. Find ways to help them communicate with you. Invite them to “customer service coffees” or other events (make sure there’s food!) to get their input. People want to be helpful but you need to make it easy. use email, websites, blogs, and whatever else you can think of to connect with them.