This article will discuss customer service and help explain how to use it effectively to build long-standing relationships with your customers

What is customer service?

Customer service quite simply is the service provided by companies before, during and after a purchase of services or products.

Why is good customer service important?

Good customer service is imperative to any business, it will ensure you have a fantastic reputation, which will result in the repetition of business and referrals. Customers are more likely to tell other people about you if you have given them a positive experience, not only during the sale, but afterwards too. New business can be generated by word of mouth. It will set you aside from your competitors as well because they may sell similar products but their company lacks one thing, you!

Here are some tips to providing good customer service:

  • Listen to your customer – Most profit is lost because you simply didn’t listen to your customer. If they have to repeat themselves, or if you are waiting for them to stop talking so that you can jump in, you’re not listening. Customers will let you know exactly what they need and what they are concerned about. Its up to you to complete the puzzle for them and to provide solutions based off of what they said, not what you THINK they said!
  • Go the extra mile – Don’t think about it,  just do it. Anything that sets you aside from your competitors is priceless so if you have to give away a little something extra then do just that. Help your customer in ways your competitors wouldn’t.
  • Treat your customers like individuals – All too often I see small and large companies alike using sales scripts to produce better sales figures. I’ll let you into a little secret, customers weren’t born yesterday, they can recognize sales spiel immediately and therefore totally step back and switch off. Treat them as individuals and answer as an individual not a robot. Instead of selling, give information freely, answer their questions and do it with honesty and openness – that’s how you get your customer to return to you time and time again, and not go looking at  your competitors.

Here are some of the reasons you could be losing money through bad customer service:

  • Broken promises – Creating a relationship in business is hugely important.  If  however, that relationship isn’t based on trust it will never amount to anything. Don’t ever promise anything if you’re not sure you can honor the arrangement, it will tarnish your reputation dramatically. You will find that the relationship is unrecoverable and that this message about your company has been passed to others – bad news travels faster than good!
  • The silent treatment – A mistake we all make in life from time to time,  is to stick our heads in the sand if something is happening that we do not want to deal with. This can harm your business badly, for example,  if you have a complaint waiting at your door. You run the risk of making the customer even less receptive than before and your reputation will take a hammering as well. In a lot of cases politely challenging queries and complaints in the first instance can put you in to a positive position with the customer. They will feel that you have put them first, that they were important to you and that you are dedicated to their service, not their money.
  • Its all too much! – Another big mistake is flooding a customer with so much information after the initial query that you end up making them feel overwhelmed and put them off for life! Sure it’s great to get a new lead but remember the relationship is in its earliest stages and baby steps are required. It takes practice to get this fine art  perfected and the best way to do this is by listening to your customer, understanding their feedback and acting on it, sounds simple but sometimes it is not always achieved.
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