Businesses today are being told that the ‘must haves’ are consistent branding, a cool website, best SEO coding, best this and that. I agree these elements are important but in my opinion all of these whizz-bang things are utterly useless and a large waste of money unless you combine these things with excellent customer service.
Catchy slogans and slick brochures mean nothing if you treat your customers/clients badly. The enduring image of your business will be strongly influenced by the experience (positive or negative) that your client has with you and your staff.
A customer who has a negative experience will tell on average 30 people, whereas a positive experience only 3-4. You are running the risk of turning many potential clients away with poor service.
One of the fundamental elements of good service is good communication. (Is that a surprise dear reader, coming from your Aunt Em?) The opportunity for a superior experience starts from the moment your client picks up the phone, hits send on an email or, for those of us old enough, licks the stamp and slips it into the post box.
What will the first thing a customer encounters on the phone? A bored, disinterested voice who doesn’t listen or will they receive a friendly and professional welcome from someone who is helpful, courteous and is engaged with meeting their needs.
What about the treatment customers receive face-to-face? Are they likely to feel intimidated or important? Have you made it clear to your staff what your minimum standards are for customer relationships?
What about your email traffic? Do you have ways to filter sales enquiries or account queries? Do all of your emails funnel into your personal INBOX and you respond when you can?
Finally with snail mail – yes, dear reader I give this option to my clients. How often do you clear your post box? Do you have a set time that you give as your standard for replying, responding or resolving issues rising from your business letters.
All of these points may seem self-evident and if they are part of your daily routine – congratulations! If they aren’t, perhaps you should take a minute to see how much your service culture is affecting your chances of success.
Good communication is the basis for good service. Good service is critical for success in business. I am getting older, dear reader, and fashions and certain values may change – but for me good service will NEVER go out of fashion!
A summary of very simple good communication/good service principles:
- Best first impression – ensure that phone calls are answered promptly and courteously (even if the doohickey has just exploded or the green thumper has disintegrated)
- Best welcome to the premises – every customer should be ushered in on a tide of good will
- Categorise email traffic – don’t let the flood fill up your INBOX – have a process for sorting and resolving
- Develop a schedule for clearing the post box – while snail mail does have a slower response time built in – that is no excuse for allowing cobwebs to build up inside your PO Box from lack of attention.
Be aware of the elements of experience you are building for your clients – good service, good communication are essential for success.
Your customers are surely worthy of your undivided attention. Engage with your clients and keep them coming back by being the best at what you do; and be even better at the service you give your customer.