Having been involved in serving customers for 50 years, I think I have some idea how to deal with customers.
In my days at Boots The Chemist in England they taught me that the “Customer is always Right, even when they are wrong”.
This adage has been my foundation in serving customers.
In this day and age customer service is even more critical to any business. Customers are now more knowledgeable and selective about who they do business with and what for.
If you upset a customer, you not only lose them but it is estimated that they tell 10 other people about their experience. So you lose many customers, not just one.
Therefore, your customer service representatives are so important and need to be trained correctly.
Care for your customer beyond the professional relationship.
When I first started in customer service, the emphasis was on having a professional relationship with a customer. That may have been alright fifty years ago, but nowadays a customer expects a more personal relationship. It is becoming an important aspect of our business culture. Many customers differentiate companies that care, from companies that after profit.
People now want realness and authenticity. This means adding some personality and depth to a relationship. Get to know your customers. This includes families, hobbies, and preferences.
These details will not only help you personalize your service but also ensure you’re boosting your customers’ well-being.
Ensure that your core values are consistently emphasized.
Core values are how we build your company’s culture. They are the reason you get out of bed every morning. They motivate your employees to go above and beyond what you expect of them.
During a crisis, such as we have now, it is easy to stray from these standards. Because we need to survive. But now it is more important than ever to stick with them.
You need to remind your people about the core values you live by. Give examples of when these core values have been met. You should regularly communicate with your full team.
This shows how much you value giving great service and, not just surviving. These are the kinds of company’s people want to buy from. and they are the kinds of companies people want to work for.
Recognize that you do not have the answer now.
Being a resource, people expect that we have all the answers. Sometimes you can feel so desperate to get the business that you say something you can’t be sure to be true. So you can appear to be the “expert”. When a simple “I don’t know” would be better.
Acting like you know is a disservice to the client, and it doesn’t help you build a lasting relationship
Have clear expectations.
A client will have expectations, and keeping them clear with clients is important.
For example, saying, “We will now do “A,’ and we will be back in touch by ‘B’”. Can set unrealistic expectations and cause problems if you don’t deliver.
I have come across this many times. The assistant is trying to re-assure you that all will be well. Even if they are not sure themselves.
Don’t blame others, take ownership.
Too many times I have heard people refer to delays or challenges they’re facing to internal faceless people: You hear “my bosses,” “the powers that be,” “the people in credit approval.”
It creates uncertainty for customers and creates a blame game that shouldn’t exist. Sometimes, just a simple “we dropped the ball” is best. This is a great way to build a long-term relationship.
It is important not to look at what went wrong, tell the customer what you are able to do. By making clear you’re happy and willing to help.
Eliminate barriers for approval.
Communication in any organization is critical for its success. Having clear lines of communication is essential. Communication between leadership and the people granting approvals must be clear to everyone involved.
Unique situations can occur when customers have a particular problem. These are deviations from the normal process. Don’t act like those are so rare that you’ll deal with them on a case-by-case basis.
Customers maybe don’t know they are unusual so it’s important to make sure you put processes in place to deal with them. This will prevent customers from enduring long waits.
Focus on leadership in service.
An exemplary leader is accessible. It is important to show you care through action. Your attention and support is not driven by revenue, it is driven by a need and a community. If you are not willing to answer the call and show them respect, you can’t expect loyalty.
Long-term relationships are often forged in the challenging times. It’s easy to be there in the enjoyable times, but who is there when you need them most? The customer wants to know you will be there and can be counted on to show up for them.
You and your customers are partners in business and every relationship deserves respect, loyalty and sometimes a champion when needed.
In crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to focus on how you will survive.. But it’s vital to remember that it’s not just about you — it’s also about how the people in the surrounding community are doing. It is essential that any organization will focus on giving customers the best service they can, and survival will take care of itself.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.
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