How to Give Awesome Customer Service


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.

Follow Up

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.

Thank Them

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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Mark is a graphic designer and audio engineer from Canada. He is the editor of Some Design Blog and the author of the soon to be published Encyclopedia of Home Recording.

Discussion

  1. Kyle Shrauger on the 5th November

    Great article! I think customer service should be a daily reminder. It is so easy to get caught up in the business environment that we tend to forget the importance of customer service. It is important to remember that customer service isn’t about just selling a product or service, but HOW you sell that product or service. Especially in today’s economy where competition is practically driven by price, it is essential to connect with the customer on a personal level and truely understand their persepective. Taking the extra few minutes to ask the right questions can go a long way.

  2. Tijl Vandersteene on the 5th November

    Say hello.
    Before answering (or asking) questions or replying, I let them know they have my attention.
    On the phone you can always say ‘good morning’, ‘good day’… before anything else. In e-mail always let them know you got the mail. Short answer like: hello, I got your question, I will answer you tomorrow before noon, is that ok?
    Just let them know you are there for them. Give attention.

  3. Tanja on the 5th November

    I found out that it is very important to show your respect and appreciation to your customers’ work and their ideas – even if the ideas are not good :D.

    This way you improve your customer’s confidence in you/your company and they will come up with more ideas and are more open for suggestions – and new products.

  4. Murray on the 5th November

    We’ve always used follow up emails and live help on our website, which has brought some truly amazing interactions with our customers.

    Just the other day we’ve decided to start doing video customer support using streaming video. Sometimes people just don’t “get” our instructions, so now we will be able to show them via video instead of fumbling around on the phone.

    I think this is going to really improve our customer interaction :)

  5. Bob Bessette on the 5th November

    I don’t typically work directly with end-customers but I do have many internal customers. What I try to do when they ask for something from me is suggest a solution but a solution that gives them more than they ask for. The main reason for this is to help them out but it also tends to prevent them from coming back and asking for what I added in, in the first place.

    So I try to give them more than they ask for so that they are satisfied and they go away happy campers.

    Best,
    Bob

  6. Chill on the 5th November

    Very informative article, I learned some tips on how to handle your customers and how to care for their needs. Being sensitive to their needs and Attentive would be an additional tips in order to have a good customer care.

  7. Alison Rowan on the 5th November

    These are fantastic points. Customer service is incredibly important, especially for me as a freelancer. My customer service reflects directly on me and my business – it can’t be written off as some part timer who couldn’t care less. It’s all me, so it’s super important to be aware of how customers are being treated at all times.

    I think the point about knowing the customer’s name goes a long, long way. A customer is going to feel comfortable with people who recognize them, and who they recognize. People like familiarity, and that’ll draw them back.

  8. Kerran on the 5th November

    Good article.

    Two additional points.
    Firstly….
    Do what you say – as sales people we have this ability to tell the customer what they need to hear. Unfortunately 80% of what sales people say is not followed through, broken promises if you will and this severely damages the brand. Its simple – do what you say you will do. For example “Mr customer I will call you back later today with an update” – call them back regardless whether you have an update or not and set a new expectation.

    Secondly…
    Be accountable – again customers, whether they are right or wrong just want someone to fix the problem. Make a valuable customer for life by putting your hand up and saying I will make sure this issue is resolved. Whether you directly or indirectly solve the customer issue is irrelevant.

    I could go on all day but I wont.

    Keep up the good work envato.

    Kerran

  9. Lisa on the 6th November

    The customers that come to our office get treated to fresh baked cookies and coffee if they want it. They’re usually only here for maybe half an hour to an hour, but it’s something to make them feel appreciated.

  10. Espen on the 7th November

    Don’t over-use your customer’s name.

    “Hi Espen! You probably like fast cars, fishing and computer stuff, right, Espen? I got a proposition for you, Espen. Having a great day, Espen?”

    “Who are you?”, I answered.

    It seemed a bit like a trick. I like it when my doctor knows my name and my bank knows my name, but not the men’s magazine telephone salesman knows it.

  11. jason on the 18th November

    Excellent points – the importance of thanking people can’t be overstated – be it to your end customer, your internal customers, or even your bus driver – “Thank you” is a powerful statement – when it’s authentic

    I wrote a post about how McDonalds made me McAwesome:
    http://brandscaping.ca/2009/11/how-mcdonalds-made-me-mcawesome/

    Good service can be found in many places, great service is found in the places you remember and tell your friends about.

    @brandscaping

  12. Village Rooms on the 11th November

    Interesting discussion.

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