These are some of my favorite business quotes. Here’s another favorite, which I have above my desk and read and reread often:
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.
Customer service and word-of-mouth are your best and most effective marketing tools. I have always tried to follow the principle of offering, not just good customer service, but exceptional customer service, whether it was with my businesses, consulting or teaching. There are literally hundreds of blogs, websites, books and quotes out there regarding customer service and how incredibly important it is to every business, no matter how big or small you are. And most of the time, it doesn’t cost you anything.
The first step to great customer service is to listen. Listen to your customer. Listen to what they are saying, the tone of their voices, the words they are choosing, and if they are standing in front of you, their body language. Then ask questions.
When you find out first what they need, you can then effectively help them. The more you know about your customer, the better suited you will be at solving their needs. Since all businesses are going to depend more and more on customer satisfaction, consider:
- What can you give customers that they can’t get from other stores or makers? What is special about working with you? Ronna Lugosch, jewelry designer and owner of Peapod Jewelry in Maine says “There are many ways to go the extra mile for your customer. I feel that offering a pleasing design that can be customized while the customer waits is a winner. People love immediate gratification and are so grateful to have something that represents them personally.”
- Even if the customer doesn’t purchase or makes a very small purchase at this particular time, how can you make sure they will think of you for the future?
- How can you make a customer’s experience with you positive, memorable, and something they tell their friends about?
- What are the personal touches you give to your customers that make their shopping experience meaningful?
- How does your approach to customer service reflect your product, your business, yourself and your brand?
- When something goes wrong, how can you turn a challenging situation into a positive one? What can you do to win a customer back? Offering a sincere apology for a mistake and taking ownership of it is a powerful tool and so many people instead choose to blame others or not take responsibility. Here is a statement that you don’t want said about you: “It was supposed to be an apology but it was a monologue of self-justification.”
Look around at other industries and businesses that you feel have a strong commitment to customer service and emulate them. What outstanding customer service have you experienced and how did it make you feel? What can you learn from those experiences? How can you take these experiences and apply them to your business? What exactly defines exceptional customer service in your experience?
Remember, customer service is all about your long-term relationships with your customers—so make a strong, positive and memorable impression!