How to Deliver Excellent Customer Service
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
If you compare a business to the human body, there’s no doubt customer service is at the heart. Answering a client's questions is more than just a conversation -- it’s the accumulation of every interaction the client has with your business; it’s the pilot smiling from the cockpit as you board the plane, the barista handing you a straw with your coffee, the receptionist making sure your forms have been updated correctly. From the first conversation you have with a potential client to each email follow-up, you are providing customer service at every stop. And with so many opportunities to interact with your customers, it’s important to deliver consistent and exceptional service, every time.
When communicating with customers daily, providing excellent customer service every time may seem futile or tediously repetitive. Whether you have long-standing clients that have been around for some time or just starting your book of business, it’s important to remember each interaction you have with your client is just as important as the first time you spoke with them. If possible, why not exceed their expectations in every exchange -- after all, they are your client! As a mobile marketing advisor and customer support rep, here are some of my tools I’ve found to help deliver excellent support, consistently.
This may sound obvious, but it can be so easy to just hear clients rather than really listen to what they are saying, or not saying. Is your typically upbeat client a little sharper than normal? Is your client “all over the place” when describing an issue? They may just be extremely frustrated and inconvenienced that they needed to reach out, causing them to be tense; they may be utterly confused with the issue they’re seeing and having a difficult time explaining it. You know your client, so if something is out of character, take it into consideration and tailor your exchange accordingly.
Also, take note of how you are listening. It’s frustrating to feel like you’re not being heard, and it can be time-consuming too. Being a good listener will save your client the trouble and you both the time. Don’t start thinking of a response while your client is still explaining -- really listen to them, instead of simply hearing them.
2. Be prompt
“Time is money.” “Time isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing” “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” Well, maybe not the last one, but there are a seemingly endless amount of quotes regarding the importance of time. So, be prompt. Don’t let an email or voicemail sit around for hours -- respond! Even if the solution or answer will take more time, just let your client know you are working on it and will follow up with a resolution in due time.
3. Follow through
Nothing feels worse than being let down, except being let down and it potentially affecting your business. It’s important to take ownership over your interactions, and always follow through until any issue is thoroughly and completely resolved. It is your duty to your clients to match their expectations with realistic outcomes, and your responsibility to follow through.
It’s easy to want to please the client and only deliver good news. But bad news can happen, delays can happen, so be honest from the start and allow your client the opportunity to plan accordingly.
4. Take a breath
Throughout your work experience, how many times have you heard “the customer is always right”? I’m guessing for you, like many of us, this old adage has become so ingrained it’s inherent in how we view business interactions. But what does this mean for you, on the business side, when the customer may actually be wrong? Really, really wrong? Take a breath. Maybe it’s a hard conversation, maybe it’s a information that was incorrectly received. Maybe it’s just a bad day! Take a breath. I’ve found by allowing myself a moment before responding, it’s much easier to remove erroneous emotions and be tactful.
There are endless ways to interact with your clients and provide support, have exchanges and leave them happy. Find a process and rhythm that works for you and your client that keeps you both happy, and it will pave the way towards success.