Providing excellent customer service goes way beyond offering a cheery hello. Here are the best ways to ensure that your customers are satisfied.
Produced in partnership with Barclaycard
Great customer service has always been important but in our current climate, where people are in tough competition for business, it has never been more crucial. It is especially pertinent for small businesses, those that are perhaps just starting out or wanting to expand. Here we take a look at why face-to-face customer service is so important to the success of your business, and how you can do your best to ensure that your customers are satisfied.
Why customer service matters
It doesn’t matter how great your product is; if your customer service is second rate, your success is going to be limited. Let’s be honest, who’s going to want to return to a shop where the assistant is surly and unhelpful, especially if they have other alternatives? Face-to-face customer service is fraught with difficulties, and often tricky to get right; yet the repercussions for your business, if you do get it wrong, can be damaging. Providing excellent customer service goes way beyond offering a broad smile and a cheery hello (although these are undoubtedly important); it is about going that extra mile and doing everything possible for your customer. Remember, every customer has a choice, and they can quite easily choose to take their business elsewhere.
Access to the right training
It is imperative that your staff members have access to adequate customer service training. For some people, providing excellent customer service is second nature; they have a natural affinity and understanding of how to deal with customers. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. Some may need clarity with regards to what makes great customer service, and more importantly, how to offer it. It could be that your staff members are entirely unaware of the effect they have on your customers, or how their own behaviour could possibly make or break a situation.
Similarly, many people fail to recognise how important body language and non-verbal communication are when dealing with customers. For example, a member of staff feels like they are doing a great job because they greet every customer as they arrive; however, they fail to realise that their disinterested tone makes the greeting counterproductive. Another issue tackled with customer service training is how to resolve negative situations involving dissatisfied customers. Some people find it difficult to know how to handle conflict, often becoming defensive, or even angry, in response to a customer’s disgruntled behaviour. Appropriate training will give the member of staff the tools to resolve a fraught situation in a calm, empathic, and responsive manner. How a customer’s grievance is handled could well determine whether they return for repeat business, so it is imperative that your staff get it right.
Customer service is multi-faceted
Customer service needs to be multi-pronged to be effective. Every aspect of your business needs to be geared towards ensuring that your customer has a pleasant experience, starting from the minute they walk into your premises. One thing that many new businesses get so wrong is the physical lay-out of their property – aisles are too narrow or cluttered with non-essential items, hindering access; shelves are too high or too low; similar products are not grouped in a convenient manner, instead they are scattered and hard to locate. Although on their own these issues may seem insignificant, together they can have a negative impact on your customer’s experience.
It is also important to reflect on how well your business copes during busy periods such as the lunchtime rush. Not having an adequate amount of staff to cope with demands means that you are providing poor customer service. Customers who have to wait 30 minutes before they have their lunch order taken will probably not come back the next day. Similarly, think about how your customers pay you. If you are inflexible in your methods of payment, such as not accepting card transactions using PDQ terminals like these, your competitor down the road just might. Simplification is the key. Great customer service is all about being flexible, and making things as easy as possible for your consumers.
Building a relationship
Providing excellent face-to-face customer service instills confidence and trust, which in turn makes people more inclined to return for repeat business with you. Not only that, but customers who are happy with your service are more likely to be interested in signing up for your mailing list; they may also follow you, and talk about you favourably, on social media sites. The ability to continue to reach customers long after they have left your premises has never been greater; so it is important to take the opportunity to create a positive impression while customers are right there in front of you.