1. Make your customers feel important. Call your customers by name. Ask about their families, vacation plans, additions to the family. Acknowledge their accomplishments. Know what is happening in your community!
2. Smile warmly, and often. A smile not only demonstrates you care, it shows your customers that you are warm, friendly and that you do care about them.
3. Listen carefully when your customers are speaking to you. Try to give your customers your undivided attention. Multi-tasking is often perceived as being rude. When customers are in front of you, make eye contact. If you are on the telephone, customers can hear the click-clack of keyboards. Make sure the click-clack they hear is relative to your conversation with them.
4. Know your products and services. Customers want to work with knowledgeable employees. Learn everything you can about your products so you can be better equipped to answer customer questions. If you’re uncertain about something, ask for help.
5. Understand the cost of losing one customer. If you are in a competitive environment, knowing the value of a lost customer is critical! When you lose a single customer, you don’t lose one transaction, you miss out on a lifetime opportunity of profitability with that customer. This obviously impacts the company’s bottom-line, which has a HUGE ripple effect, including the job security of every employee.
6. Ask your customers what they want. Listen carefully to your customers and ask questions to find out what aspects of service are most important to them.
7. Treat your customers as individuals. Not all customers are alike. Each customer has individual needs and concerns and they want to be treated with a personal touch that does not make them feel like a number. Communicate in the manner your customers like to communicate.
8. Keep your promises to your customers. When you tell your customer you are going to do something, follow-up as quickly as possible. Given them time-frames and honor them.
9. Don’t waste your customers’ time. Everyone is busy and nothing will frustrate a customer more than feeling like his or her time has been wasted. Complicated voice mail systems, making customers repeat their service request more than once and un-knowledgeable employees are some major time-wasters. A customer’s time is as important as your time!
10. Make it easy for your customers to complain. Your customers want to feel heard, especially when they are frustrated with the service they received. Invite feedback by asking customers what they liked best and least about your service. Ongoing surveys are a reliable and consistent approach to gaining feedback, but don’t miss the opportunity when you are with a customer. The mere fact that you have asked sends an amazing message of how you value your customers and their feedback.
11. Ask your customers what they want. Constantly ask your customers what you can do for them and how you can do it better. They may want extended hours, educational classes or the ability to speak with a manager. After you ask, try to give them what they want and keep them informed of the process along the way.
12. Reward your loyal customers with generosity. Look for ways to go the extra mile, particularly for your loyal customers. When possible, bend a rule, throw in a little something extra, waive a fee or send a small gift. Demonstrate through your actions that you consider them to be special and you are thankful for their continued business.
13. Maintain a sense of humor and have fun at work. Your customers want to do business with people who genuinely enjoy what they do. Laugh with your customers and make the service experience fun for them.
14. Thank your customers every chance you get. Sincerely thank your customers. Thank them for calling, bringing in a payment, meeting you at their home, calling in for help, and yes, even calling in to complain! For many, there are options available and they chose your company over the competition.
15. Never take your customers for granted. Your customers ARE your business!
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skills training for utilities. He can be reached at 888-644-5499 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Measure-X Web site at www.measure-x.com.