Think about your reaction when you receive poor service! How often have
you told someone about a bad service experience? Often, I bet. Customers
have long memories for a bad experience and considering the importance
of "word of mouth" marketing it is important to ensure your business is
providing the BEST customer service possible.
Your job as as business owner is to provide outstanding customer service
all the time! Every satisfied customer will become a walking advertisement
for your business. The key to customer service is to make it EASY to
deal with your company. Make EVERYthing easy:
Make it easy to find you
Make it easy to contact you
Make it easy to determine what you do or sell
Make it easy to select your product
Make it easy to pay
Make it easy to return product, if necessary
Make it easy to get answers
Put yourself in place of the customer when assessing your performance.
Little things make a difference. The following listing are a few elements
of a "customer satisfaction" program - you'll surely find more that
are specific to your own business.
1. Make sure that ALL your employees understand that the customers
2. Never, never argue with a customer. Even if the customer is wrong,
try to turn the situation positive. For example, say the customer wants
to return an item and your policy clearly states that the customer pays
for shipping. It might be in you best interest to say, "No problem,
sent it back - we'll pay the shipping!" That small shipping charge may
keep a customer for you!
3. Don't use a telephone answering machine or a voice mail system
unless absolutely necessary. Customers like to talk to real people,
not machines. Think how irritating it is for you to wade through the
typical voice-mail "menu." If you must use a machine, choose one over
an answering service. With a machine you know what will be said to the
4. Answer the telephone by the second ring. Here's a neat trick: Before
answering, take a deep breath and smile! It's amazing how this can change
how you sound at the other end of the phone line!
5. Say "Thank you" frequently ... be courteous.
6. Provide something free (coffee, bagels, pens).
7. ALWAYS return telephone calls promptly.
8. Answer your own telephone.
9. Install a complaint "hot line" for customers to use.
10. Make your product/service easy to purchase - 800 telephone; credit
11. Provide free samples.
12. Always go the "extra mile" for your customers.
13. Don't ever blame anything on a "computer problem."
14. Have periodic "preferred customer" sales.
15. If you deal in an expensive product or service with few customers,
follow up each sale with a telephone call or written communication.
16. Use customer satisfaction surveys. You will always learn something
that is surprising.
17. Provide a money-back guarantee. Make it life-time if possible.
(It is amazing how few people actually return products).
18. Periodically remember your preferred customers. Send them all
pens or coffee cups but not during the holiday season - you don't want
to compete with other gifts and mailings!
Incorporate these ideas into how you treat your customers, your sales
literature and website (you do have a website, right?). And speaking
of your website ensure that it is included in your "customer satisfaction"
program. For example;
1. Make is EASY to contact you directly, if necessary. Include your
e-mail address and telephone numbers within the site - on every page
is not a bad idea.
2. Make sure your site is not confusing - make it easy to find product,
pricing and shipping information. Make it easy to place the order.
3. Provide answers to frequently asked questions.
4. Clearly state your return policy and guarantees.
Providing exceptional customer service is one major way a small and
home based business can compete with larger businesses. Don't forget
this and you'll win and keep customers.