Customers share both good and bad experiences
It’s a fact. Many of your customers are chatting with one another and sharing information through social media, smart phones, and a variety of Internet applications and websites. For many companies, that very connectivity has resulted in greater sales. The pool of potential clients has extended well beyond the confines of brick-and-mortar stores and locales. On the other hand, “word of mouth” has taken on an ominous new meaning. Treat customers well, and new revenues may flow from distant locales as your company receives “thumbs up” reviews. Treat customers poorly, however, and they may share their experiences with the world — quickly and with long-lasting effect. To keep your business from becoming the latest customer service joke on YouTube or MySpace, be sure to follow these tried-and-true guidelines.
- Respond to customer inquiries with care. Customers need to feel that you’re listening to their concerns, needs, and complaints. If they call your offices and are shuffled around or put on hold while your latest marketing pitch endlessly assails their ears and wastes their time, don’t expect return sales. When they walk into your store, listen first, then offer advice. Even if they approach during a peak time, try to give them the courtesy of your undivided attention.
- Don’t get defensive. Want to appear on somebody’s Internet video or blog? Be rude. Be irritable. Cut off customers before they have an opportunity to voice their comments or complaints. When customers have mistaken notions about your products or services, take a deep breath and explain the problem in a calm manner. Even if you feel personally attacked, never lash out at a client who, after all, has come to your business for help. Being cordial won’t please everyone. But most people respond better to honey than to vinegar.
- Train your employees well. People aren’t born with good people skills. Such skills are developed. A good manager will take time to share his expertise with front-line staff by providing training classes and a personal example. If an employee can’t or won’t treat customers with respect, that person may need to be placed in a different position — away from clients. Good customer service also includes training staff on the technical aspects of your business. Employees should be fully conversant with your products and services, as well as your firm’s routine procedures and policies.
Your customers will notice.