You know what kind of service you expect when you're a customer. Why should your business give its customers anything less? Here are 10 rules for great customer service:
- Commit to quality service. Everyone in your company must be devoted to creating a positive experience for the customer. Always go above and beyond customer expectations.
- Know your products. Employees should have in-depth knowledge of products, services, and return policies. Give your staff the training and resources they need to become product experts. Also, try to anticipate the types of questions customers will ask. On your website, update and amend your FAQ page frequently.
- Know your customers. Learn everything you can about your customers so you can tailor your services to their needs and buying habits. Talk to customers about their experiences, and make it a point to listen and learn from their complaints.
- Treat people with courtesy and respect. Every time you and your employees make contact with a customer -- whether it's by email, phone, written correspondence, or face-to-face -- the interaction leaves an impression on that customer. Show that you care -- "Sorry to keep you waiting," "Thanks for your order,"-- to demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Never argue with a customer. The customer is not always right; however, it's important to focus on how to fix a situation and not to dwell on what went wrong.
- Don't leave customers in limbo. Repairs, callbacks, and emails need to be handled with a sense of urgency. Customers want immediate resolution. Research shows that the likelihood of getting repeat business goes up to 95 percent when a customer's complaints are resolved on the spot.
- Always provide what you promise. Only make promises that you are confident your business can keep. If you fail to make good on your promise, apologize to the customer and offer some type of compensation, such as a discount or free delivery.
- Assume your customers tell the truth. Although there are some unscrupulous customers who will say anything to get what they want, most don't like to complain. In fact, they may go out of their way -- perhaps all the way to a competitor -- to avoid complaining. So when they do complain, listen to them and work to remedy the problem.
- Focus on keeping customers, not on making sales. Keeping a customer's business is more important than closing a sale, and happy customers are the best way to find new customers. To ensure that you accurately track your customers, consider using CRM software. Read our overview, "How Is CRM Different from ERP?," to get a handle on CRM tools and their capabilities.
- Make it easy to buy. The buying experience in your store, on your website, or through your catalog should be as easy as possible. Eliminate unnecessary steps, help people find what they need, explain how products work, and do whatever else you can to facilitate transactions. If you're selling online, read "Online Customer Service Basics" to review special concerns for e-commerce businesses.
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