This article was written by guest blogger Tamara Putvin
Setting Your Customer Service Standards
Things are changing in the online business world. People are trying to keep their business’ going and they are trying new avenues. The business’ that will succeed are the ones that truly care about their customers needs, and go above and beyond to exceed their expectations.
First thing you want to do is make your customer’s your priority. Without your customers your business is doomed to fail. Have a customer service policy for yourself. As your business grows only hire those that can understand and abide by your customer service standards, not everyone is cut out to serve the public, and you are ultimately responsible for how your customers are treated whether it’s you are not. With that said another good rule of thumb to remember is customer are not just people who purchase from you they are also the people that work for you, internal customer service is just as important as external. When you respond internally to requests quickly and efficiently your employees will see that value and do the same for your customers and each other.
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No matter what business you are in you will win your customers, when you “WOW” them with service. Customers are no longer taking the laid back approach to purchases or services. They know that they have other options. Your biggest win will be when you truly put your customer first. Exceed their expectations, customer service has not been a priority for a long time, and with the economy the way it is it’s coming back, bigger and better then ever.
How can you exceed their expectations?
Listen to what your customer is saying to you or what they are asking of you. I once heard a quote “You have two ears and one mouth, so you can listen twice as much as you talk”
Make it a practice to respond to any calls, emails, etc within 24 hours. I read recently that an author doing research for her next book would call different companies, of all the ones she called it was the people that run the most successful companies that were the most responsive. If you do not have an answer for the question or concern, you can still respond within 24 hours letting your customer know that you are working on their request. It’s important for your customer to feel acknowledged.
Go above and beyond, “A little Home town Hospitality”. Several days ago I was at our little country store down the road, While I was visiting this little store, there was a customer in line in front of me, the checker was checking them out and the gal that owns the store was on the phone, when all of the sudden the gal on the phone looked at the customer in front of me and said, “You know my husband is in town right now, do you want him to pick you up some almond extract?” Now you wouldn’t think that is a big deal, but we live 25 minutes from town and there are several big hills between the stores and our homes and to top it off we were getting a our worst snow fall in years. Of course, the customer was overjoyed and said yes please, but tell him I want the real stuff no imitation. In that one sentence she earned a customer for life. That is above and beyond. It’s small town hospitality, when I was working at the bank we would think nothing of driving documents, or whatever our customer needed right to their door. Things like this will stick with your customer, so the next time they are looking products and you carry it, you are the person they are going to call.
If you don’t have it, help them find it. Even if you do have it but it’s not exactly what they are looking for give them options, your customer will probably buy from you because you gave them information to make an informed decision. You are going to be the go to person. As an example, I ran across a request last week asking about Candle warmers and wax bars. The company that I represent carries these, we have a limited selection, so in wanting to give the customer all the information I could I did a little research I found another company that carries the product in a wider variety, I invited that companies rep. to join our conversation. I let my potential client know that that I was aware of what they were looking for and wanted to give them all the resources available to they could make the right decision to fit their needs. Will I get that sale? I don’t know, but I don’t care either, I exceeded her expectations by putting her needs before my own. With this philosophy my business may not soar today, but its lasting effect will be longer then those that are in it for the dollars only. Whether she purchases from me or not she will get thank you note, if she makes a purchase with me she will get one that says “Thank you so much for your support” Enjoy your (product name). If she does not buy, She will get one that says “Thank you for your consideration, enjoy your new (Product and company name) you are sure to enjoy your wonderful new (product name)! This is going to set me apart even further! A very good source for thank cards is Send Out Cards, this wonderful company will print it, stuff it in an envelope, and mail it all for less then the cost of a card from the store. The quality is spectacular. Always be sincere, if you say you are going to do something for your customer, you need to do it. Sincerity is described as free of deceit, hypocrisy, or falseness. So when dealing with your customers, it’s always wise to remember to avoid those characteristics. Even if you do not have an answer, do not make one up, be truthful a good response when you do not know the answer is “You know that is a good question, I don’t have the answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you.” With the technology today finding answers for our customers has never been easier, and truth be told if they wanted to they could find the answer they are looking for on their own. If you give them false information and they end up doing research on their own you will lose credibility.
In order to succeed in customer service you need to have a servant’s heart. A genuine caring for other people puts you in the top of your market, believing people before dollars is 99% of the battle. There is a video that is a must see for anyone in customer service, The Simple Truth of Service, this video says it all in only a brief few minutes.
Tamara Putvin has worked in Customer Service for almost two decades.
She works from her home in Shelton, WA.
This article is 1 in a series.
Follow Tamara on Twitter – http://twitter.com/TamiPut
Posted by Nicole Ibarrondo, former editor here at Mom Fuse