Tip of the Month for April 2007

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TIP: How Good Is Your Customer Service Really?
You might have the most wonderful product, or service, on the planet, but, unless you provide customers with good service, real success probably will remain elusive. Here are a few questions to help determine if your customer service is tip-top or if it needs some improvement.
  1. Do your employees really put the customer first…before their coffee break or a personal phone call? Do they truly recognize that customers pay their salary? There are few things more annoying to a customer than a salesperson who ignores them preferring to complete some paperwork instead, or who refuses to have eye contact with hovering customers. If it is necessary to make a customer wait, make sure your employees understand that some form of acknowledgement –“I’ll be with you in a moment…” or short explanation might be the difference between making or losing a sale.

  2. Are your staff good listeners? Asking the customer questions to find out what they need is one thing. Really listening to their replies—what they say and what they don’t say—to point them to their best options requires a sales person’s undivided attention. First-class sales people pay full attention to the customer they are helping. They don’t “multi-task” or get side-tracked by other inquiries from co-workers. They avoid making assumptions, and know that potential customers frequently don’t know what various product features or benefits might be available. Savvy customer service pros know many will customers will “upgrade” to a premium product or service line, if the salesperson takes the time to listen and understand their specific needs.

  3. Do your employees know why their customers are buying? It might sound silly but most people are less concerned with the idea of acquiring stuff or obtaining specific services than with finding solutions to problems or discovering products/services that make them feel good. Most purchase decisions are emotional in nature. This is true whether a customer is buying a luxury automobile, landscape services or dental implants. The best customer service professionals identify appropriate solutions and anticipate their customers’ needs.

  4. Are complaints dealt with cheerfully and promptly? Whether the complaint is justified or not, every problem gives a sales person the chance to make a good impression on a customer. Help staff to see the positive aspects of the complaint process. Complaints give a business the opportunity to fix problems and to improve. Encourage sales people to give complainers the opportunity they seek to vent, and suggest they avoid justifying or arguing. Apologize promptly when things go wrong, and be forthright in accepting responsibility for the issue at hand.

  5. Is it easy for customers to give you feedback? Suggestion boxes that never receive attention from management, or feedback-forms that never find their way to the back office are worse than nothing at all. Provide customers with the means to contact you, or a senior manager, directly with concerns, suggestions or compliments. Be proactive and contact customers yourself from time to time to ask what they think.
And finally, don’t forget those on the front line. Employees who work in an atmosphere where mutual respect and team work are actively encouraged are much more likely to treat customers with appreciation. If your sales people feel valued, it will show in their daily work.


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