A happy customer is a return customer. And courting return customers is easier on the bottom line then expending resources always searching for new customers. But small blunders can send even the most loyal customers to the competition without even a wave goodbye. A little upfront time spent improving your customer service approach will save the headache of trying to repair damaged customer relationships.
Respond to Emails and Phone Calls
A company that quickly returns customer phone calls has an edge in building customer loyalty. Trust exists when customers know their concerns and questions are taken seriously. A customer that trusts a business is more likely to continue purchasing from that business and recommending it to others.
There is nothing quite as frustrating for a customer than scheduling an appointment with a business or service provider only to be kept waiting. Or worse yet, to be stood up. Remember, customers may need to take time off work or juggle other appointments to meet with you. If you are detained, plan to be no more than five minutes late and call to let the customer know you are on your way. Reschedule when necessary, but do so with 24 hours notice so the disruption to the customer's schedule is minimized. Keep appointment rescheduling to a minimum and make sure the client has a consistent contact when scheduling appointments.
Respond to Information Requests
When someone requests information about your company via e-mail, a Website form, over the phone or through some other means, he or she expects a response. When a company fails to respond, whether due to poor organization, incorrect contacts or a busy schedule, customers are left feeling abandoned. Have a policy in place for responding to information requests. For example, make it clear to customers that you will respond within one business day to their questions and requests. Make sure all your employees are aware of the policy and stick to it. Your customers will thank you!
If you promise to complete a job by a specific date, do so. If you offer a money-back guarantee, honor it. If you advertise a 24-hour response time, you had better make sure you contact your customer within 24-hours. If you can not keep your promises, it is better not to make them or at least be realistic with what your company's capabilities are. When you make a promise to customers will hold you to it.
When a customer walks into your business, show them they matter. A smile and a friendly hello tell the customer he or she is important. Even if you are busy with other customers, acknowledge each customer who walks into your store or who is in line at your counter. A simple, I will be with you in a minute, goes a long way towards building good will. And good will is the basis of strong business relationships that stand the test of time.
Written by Michelle Novak, owner of Nova Studios. Nova Studios provides small businesses and start-ups with Web and marketing services that help growing businesses thrive. http://www.nova-studios.net