We live in a global culture of convenience. The number of options we have as consumers increases every day. So why should they deal with you instead of your competitor? Why should they deal with a real store rather than order online? The best answer you can give to these questions is that you provide great customer service. It’s also the best way to keep them coming back, and get them referring their friends. Here are a few tips to improve your customer service skills.
Know the Customer’s Name
I once heard a quote that said that a person’s own name is, to them, the most beautiful sound in the world. That seems a little flowery to me, but the truth is that we feel more connected to people who call us by our name than those that don’t. Calling a customer by their name is an great way to build trust and rapport.
Depending on your line of business, the client’s name may be handed to you, or you may have to ask. Then, once you have it, use it. Now I’ve certainly dealt with sales people who take this too far and use the customer’s name in almost every sentence; they end up sounding like some kind of satire of themselves. Use it sparingly, but a sincere “Hi, Mark. How’s it going today?” will go a long way toward developing a loyal customer.
If you see your customers on an ongoing basis this is easy. It can simply be a casual “How are you liking the nuclear reactor you bought last time you were in?”. If you don’t see your customers regularly, write a quick email, or make a quick call in your downtime to make sure that a customer is still happy. It takes very little effort and it makes a huge impression.
A follow up has three main benefits. First, it shows the customer that you care about their satisfaction, and that you remember them – they weren’t just another face in the many that you see in a day.
Second, it opens the doors to further sales. The customer may respond with, “The nuclear reactor’s great! We’re really loving it. Now we need lead-lined pants for the whole family. Do you sell those?”.
The third benefit is a chance to make it right if they are unsatisfied. Many customers are hesitant to complain if they are unhappy. Following up gives them a chance to tell you why they unhappy, and for you to fix it. They say that when a customer has a complaint it’s a huge opportunity to turn them into a customer for life.
Put Yourself in Their Place
When doing the same thing day after day it’s easy for us to fall into giving the same stock answers to customer’s questions. Taking an extra moment to figure out the best solution for this specific question can make a huge difference to the customer’s satisfaction.
Several years ago I worked in a large store selling musical instruments. One day a customer came in looking for a bass with active electronics. I began to show him what we had and he was looking at a model that cost about $800. After a little discussion about why he wanted an active bass I was able to suggest that he try using an active DI (which sold for $80) with his existing bass.
A few days later the customer came in a thanked me for saving him a lot of money, and from then on he would always phone to make sure that I was there before he came in because I was the only person he wanted to deal with.
You may get paid by your employer, but indirectly you’re really paid by the customer. Without their patronage your company would be out of business and you’d be out of a job. So it seems only appropriate to thank the customer for their business.
There is a small store in my neighborhood that sells specialty groceries. The man that owns the store runs it by himself working twelve hours per day, seven days per week. Every time I buy something from him he thanks me sincerely, and if there was even a small lineup he adds “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you faster.” His store may not be the cheapest, but I feel good about shopping there, and as a result I go out of my way to shop there and have recommended it to many people.
How Do You Give Awesome Customer Service?
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