When it comes to customer service, we tend to remember exceptionally good or exceptionally poor experiences. If you’re just starting out in business, it’s worth doing all you can to get it “right” from the outset.
It will help to bring you repeat custom and referrals, but more importantly, it will please your customers and show them that you genuinely care.
The UK Customer Satisfaction Index published research in January this year showing that 34% of customers prefer excellent service, even if it costs more!
During the pandemic, I became aware that one of my elderly clients required support to help her upload some documentation to the website. I organised a home visit, and whilst I was there she mentioned that she hadn’t felt able to go out to buy groceries that week; I gave her a packet of mixed vegetables I’d just bought! It was a simple gesture that further cemented our working relationship, and although I gave her the vegetables out of kindness, it’s likely she’ll also have mentioned it to family and friends.
Here are seven tactics to help you deliver a top-notch level of customer service:
- Be human
Be personable, avoid jargon and speak in plain English. People want to be treated nicely and looked after. Nurture them. Send them a birthday card or leave a little note on their timeline. I like to sign my messages off with “BVH”, which stands for “big virtual hugs”, and it nearly always results in a little humorous interaction! When you become part of a customer’s everyday world, they won’t hesitate to recommend you (as long as your service excels!).
- Treat your customers like family members
Imagine every customer is a family member and treat them with the love and respect they deserve. I joke with my male customers that I’ll treat them like my brother, and then I follow it up with, “the one I actually like!” It always helps raise a smile.
Plus, you wouldn’t dream of selling a family member something they didn’t need or want. You wouldn’t be pushy with them. You’d give them real, solid advice or a recommendation based on their need and whether or not you could help them. You might even refer them to someone else if you couldn’t meet their need.
Small gestures like this build trust, and it’s more than likely the customer you couldn’t help “this time” will come back to you in the future because they know you won’t sell them a substandard product or service.
- Become a detective
In the early days, you might get so excited when in conversation with a prospective customer that you talk too much and tell them about every service or product that you can offer them. However, this will likely result in overwhelm and no sale (plus you’ll be exhausted!).
Instead, talk less and pay close attention to the words and phrases that they are using. Work out what it is that they really need and why they need it. When you do this correctly, people feel listened to, supported, and you’re more likely to offer the right solution first time, which saves them, and you, time and effort.
- Forget about making the sale
Focus on the customer experience and make it amazing for them. The business owner who is solely focused on the money will likely have to start from scratch every year because the customers they sold to didn’t feel looked after or cared for. Those clients are also unlikely to refer other people to you, or be a repeat customer. Forget about the sale and focus on your customer (because they deserve the best experience).
- Believe in the product
You can only be passionate about products or services that you genuinely love and believe in. Don’t try to make a quick profit; deliver value and enhance it with remarkable customer care.
- Put the time and effort into customer service
When you deliver exceptional service, it might take longer to secure the business initially, but that also gives you a firm foundation on which to build and nurture that relationship.
When I was employed as a financial adviser, three of us were tasked with creating a similar level of income. My way always took longer but I generated 45% of the business as opposed to 33%. I also received more referrals and enjoyed bigger cases. When you look after your clients, you likely increase the value of the customer (repeat business) to your business over time.
Whilst your first duty is towards your customer, if you invest an extra half an hour and it returns one and a half times the value, then it’s also worth it financially.
- Deliver on your business promise
Do what you say you will, and if there’s a hiccup along the way, always update the customer. It’s popular to “under promise and over deliver”, but whatever you decide to do, make sure you deliver!
What’s been your best experience as a customer? When did somebody go above and beyond and deliver you first-class service? What can you learn from these situations? How can you use those learnings in your own business?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and stay tuned for my blog coming up on April 11th if you want to find out what to do when a customer complains and is no longer a happy bunny!