Customer service is tough. Once upon a time we were told “the customer is always right.” Today, the customer is not only right, she’s fully in charge of the business relationship, thanks to the explosion of choice that most buyers of goods and services now have at their fingertips. If your company doesn’t satisfy a customer’s needs, they’re gone, seeking out your competition.
Today, your company’s relationship with its customers should be trust-based, and one that is seen by both parties as mutually beneficial. This truth requires your business to approach customers in a new way, taking into account the current buying environment.
Here are some tips for navigating this new customer service relationship.
- Don’t be in their face too much. Your customers don’t need to hear from you every day. They likely don’t enjoy being sold to. As with any relationship, you need to give them their space. If you’re respectful of their time and attention, they’ll appreciate it.
- But be there when they need you. When your prospective or existing customer calls on you for assistance, be responsive. Again, they have choices, and nothing is more likely to spur them to choose someone else than you being slow to respond to their request for help. When questions or issues arise, it’s important that your customer service team be available. A customer forced to wait is an unhappy customer.
- Deal with complaints head-on. When a customer is unhappy, don’t let it fester. This is obvious advice, but many times customer service reps shy away from the potential of an unpleasant exchange. It’s always best to confront these issues head on. Every problem that rears its head is also an opportunity for your business—when you resolve these challenges quickly, it counteracts the negative impression the customer has. Simply by being straightforward, accepting blame and resolving the issue, you can turn a negative into a positive.
- Do a little bit extra. Every now and then, do more than the customer wants. That little bit of extra might cost you a few dollars in the short term, but it demonstrates that you value the customer. That’s something they’ll remember.
It’s important to keep customer service in perspective; if you bend over backwards too far too often, you’ll find that customer service has turned into customer servitude, when we regularly contort ourselves every which way to satisfy a demanding customer. This is ultimately damaging to the customer relationship because we begin to lose that customer’s respect and to diminish our own value.
It’s one thing to go above and beyond for a customer, but when it starts to become a regular occurrence, we’re treading on thin ice.
So help your customers do great things … but don’t prevent your company from also doing great things.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 or Email if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.
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