These days, providing adequate customer service is not enough.
You need to go above and beyond the call of duty to provide customer service that truly stands out. How do you do this?
Begin by thinking about your own experience as a customer -- what you liked and disliked in certain situations.
Recall the times you were delighted by extra efforts to accommodate your needs or outraged by rudeness or negligence. This will give you greater insight into what makes for extraordinary customer service.
To put yourself in the customer's shoes, try visiting a wide range of businesses your customers are likely to frequent. This could include your direct competitors, as well as companies that sell related products and services.
Observe how your customers are treated in addition to the kinds of services that seem to be important to them. Then adopt your business accordingly.
Going above and beyond is especially important when a customer has complained or there is a problem with a purchase. Suppose an order is delayed. What can you do?
- Call the customer personally with updates on the status of the order and expected arrival time.
- Hand-deliver the merchandise when it arrives.
- Take 20 or 30 percent off the cost.
- Send a note apologizing for the delay -- tucked inside a gift basket full of goodies.
These are all ways of showing the customer you're on his side.
Going above and beyond doesn't always mean offering deep discounts or giving away products. With a little ingenuity and effort, you can show customers they are important at any time.
Suppose you've just received the newest samples and colors for your home furnishings line. Why not invest your best customers to a private showing, complete with music, appetizers and a coupon good for one free hour of consultation?
Emergency orders and last-minute changes should be accommodated when possible, especially for important occasions such as weddings or a big trade show. Customers remember these events … and they will remember your flexibility and prompt response to their needs, too.
Being accessible also wins loyalty. Customer loyalty is hard to win and easy to lose. But by going above and beyond with your customer service, you'll soon see your sales going above and beyond those of your competitors.
Excellent customer service is more than what you say and do for the customer. It also means giving customers a chance to make their feelings known.
Here are some suggestions for finding out what your customers want, need and care about:
- Attend trade shows and industry events that are important to your customers.
- Nurture a human bond, as well as a business one, with customers and prospects.
- Keep alert for trends; then respond to them.
- Ask for feedback.
Whatever you do, don't rest on your laurels. Regularly evaluate your product or service to be sure it is still priced, packaged and delivered right.