Bad Customer Service Empties Your Wallet
7 Tips to Great Service
Recently, my family and I were walking in a park with a lot of food vendors. One vendor was selling french fries with choices of toppings ranging from melted cheese to various meat sauces for $10 a serving. Our 4-year-old daughter asked us to buy her just french fries plain. My wife approached the seller with a question, “would you sell us french fries only with no toppings?” The answer she received is what I would describe as a case of a bad customer service. “Sure, we can sell you just french fries, but it still cost $10, or you can just walk to another vendor who sells just french fries for $5.” My wife then asked, “why do you send me away instead of making the sell for $5, I mean after all, just skip the topping and sell us the fries?” The answer back was, “that’s how we do it. You can buy the whole dish as is and we just put cheese, meat and or both on the side, or you can have just fries… Either way, it still will cost you $10. So, better find someone else…” Poor answer and poor customer service which stems from poor management. Do you agree?
Incidentally, we went to the other vendor, bought 2 orders of “just fries,” 3 drinks and spent $17.50 plus tipped the seller $2.50, spending an even $20. Simple and delicious so we’ll go back there next time and do it again… another $20.
Let’s explore how customer service either fills your business’s wallet or bankrupts it.
Duh… customers are the reason you have a business. Therefore, approach customer service the same way you approach a person you’re in love with. Nurture them with good habits and relentless care. Make them fall deeply in love with you for a long-term relationship so that they brag about you and create a wildfire of positive word-of-mouth.
Here are 7 tips for growing your business with great customer service:
Bedazzle customers with your service. The key to great customer service is treating all your customers well but not necessarily the same. Respond to their needs as individuals. While one customer might need a ton of help and attention, another might require less attention. When it’s easy to say, “yes,” then by all means, say YES! Remember, smiles are free to give and so is saying thank you and please come again and tell your friends about us. If someone wants extra cheese and another just french fries. Give it to them with a smile, ask if they would like to buy a beverage too, give a sincere thank you and gladly take their money.
Anticipate customer’s needs by emphasizing service over sales. Good service sells. But pushy service people who are always trying to sell more can be a major turnoff to all customers. Structure your offering to make it easy to buy what they need. Offer a discount on the beverage on those naked fries. Group your products so bundled pricing increases revenue and saves them a little money.
Treat your customers well by being a problem solver. Trusted advisor status with your customers is the Holly Grail of service. Ask the right questions and guide them to the best solutions. If you can’t help the customer, help them find someone who can. Customers appreciate your help, even when you aren’t directly profiting from a sale. Just consider it an investment in their positive word-of-mouth for you and or their return visit to you. This doesn’t apply to our story at the beginning where they could help but choose not to.
Innovate by understanding that most rules should be flexible. Don’t ever say, “No, that’s against the rules,” to a customer who’s making a reasonable request. Your main rule – one that should never be compromised – is to keep your customers happy and satisfied, within reason of course. How hard is it to skip putting a topping on fries…
Never send customers to another seller unless the product or service they are seeking is completely not what you do. For example, if you’re selling women’s clothes and someone is asking about men’s clothes, you can point them to another store to help them. However, if you’re selling women’s clothes but don’t have a size or a color of some item, you don’t send your customers away without a solution. Instead, offer them to find it and ship it directly to their home at no additional charge… or find another solution but do not send them to your competitor!
Nurture your employees by giving them the care and respect that you want them to give your customers. If you treat employees well, they will be great ambassadors of service. If you treat them poorly, they’ll treat your customers badly in return. Train, coach and mentor employees to be the kindest, most helpful service providers possible.
Guarantee that your customers keep coming back. Have a great customer service plan and post it in a central location for all to see. Build a training program that outlines the best practices and establish measurements for each point in your service model. Once employees understand the importance of great customer service, you will have customers returning over and over. Be sure to test each employee in live situations to see how you are doing and offer contest to employees for the best service experiences.
The moral of this story is simple. It’s not all about that old cliché that says, “the customer is always right.” After all, the truth is that customers are not always right. The truth is that having exceptional customer service takes hard work and a continuous improvement process to ingrain it into your business. Bottom line… it is customer service that makes or breaks businesses. If you have great customer service then you have great management.