It's impossible to find too many ways to deliver exceptional customer service. So, whenever you get the opportunity to learn a few more - take advantage of them. They may not be relevant to you right now, but you never know what creative ways you might be able to use six months, or a year from now. Make an "exceptional customer service ideas" file, and drop any customer service ideas you find into it. When you're looking for a way to WOW your customers, you'll have a file full of great ideas. Here are seven ideas to get you started - watch for the second part of this article next month!
Make all your customers boomerang customers
There's nothing like having customers that just keep coming back! They are worth their weight in gold, and it's easy. All you have to do is give them exactly what they want. The secret is to know what they want and how they want to receive it.
Remember, the customer is always right
It is often hard to let an awkward customer be right, but at the end of the day wherever possible you have to somehow let them at least believe they are right. The only answer a customer wants to hear is YES! There are always exceptions to this rule, but they should be just that, exceptions.
Never get into an argument - you will always lose
Once you start to argue with a customer you are going to lose business - not just theirs, but anyone they talk to later. The fact is, when they tell the story to their friends and neighbours later it will have morphed into something quite different, in their rendering of the facts you couldn't possibly have been fair or reasonable. You will have taken on the role of an ogre, and you have no chance to defend yourself! Remember, a dissatisfied customer communicates to 16 other potential customers, whereas a highly satisfied customer only tells eight potential customers. In the end, winning the argument still loses you the business.
Always, always, be polite, friendly and helpful
Respect is not, and never will be, out of fashion! Remember, not everyone likes to have their first name used by a clerk, or server who has seen it on a debit or credit card. This is especially so of a twenty-something employee saying to an 80-year old man, " Have a nice day Percy!"
They may be saying it with all good intentions, trying to be friendly and polite, but they are not Percy's friend and he might well prefer a little respect.
If you are dealing with a business customer for the first time, it is unlikely you would use their first name until invited to do so. In the retail world however, this behaviour seems endemic.
Don't lose track of your customers
Remember it costs a whole lot more to get a new customer than it does to encourage an old one back. Too often, people get a sale and then forget the customer. This is especially so when a high-priced item is involved and it won't need replacing for quite some time.
If you buy a car and keep it for four years and then decide to trade it in for a new vehicle, how likely is it that you will remember the person's name who sold it to you all those years ago? And, are you likely to seek them out specifically to buy your next car? Probably not. But, if over that four years, the sales person has sent you regular postcards saying that he or she hopes you are still enjoying your vehicle, and inviting you to the occasional launch party for a new vehicle, you are far more likely to visit them when the time comes for that new car smell.
The most successful car sales people are those who have been selling to the same customers for the last twenty years or more- and of course to the rest of their family and friends too.
Always under-promise and over deliver
Too often businesses make promises they can't live up to. Always set the bar at a height you know you can not only reach, but clear with ease. It is far better to say to a customer that something will be ready for them in ten-days and deliver it in eight than to say you will deliver it in six and get it to them in eight. In both cases the customer gets what they want in the same amount of time, but in the first example they have had a pleasant surprise and in the second they experienced a frustrating two days. It sounds simple, but few businesses seem to be able to actually operate like this.
It's tempting to get as much out of a live prospect as you can. After all, they seem keen, they have money to spend, why not take advantage? The problem is, many people get carried away when confronted by a salesperson they like, and a product they want.
Here's a true story. Sadie sat down with an young acquaintance of hers (John) who'd just landed a job selling kitchen knives. Fresh out of sales school, he'd asked whether he could practice selling to people he knew. Since he knew relationships were important in selling, and Sadie was a friend, he felt he was off to a good start. Sadie wanted John to do well, so she was very open, but she made it clear to John that she had no intention of buying knives that day.
During the presentation however, Sadie became very impressed with the enthusiastic presentation and the product itself, and ended up ordering $400 worth of knives. Later that day however, she began to suffer from buyer's remorse. She couldn't really afford the knives. To his credit, John had recognized that his new customer might have been put in a difficult situation, so he called her back to make sure she still wanted to proceed with the order. This enabled Sadie to reduce the order to what she could afford to pay. She was so impressed with John that she arranged for him to make presentations to many of her friends. The result was thousands of dollars of sales for John, rather than one unhappy $400 sale. It was exceptional customer service, not great salesmanship that won that day.
Consider these customer service principles and tuck them away for future reference. Next month we'll have eight more tips in part two of this article!