It is my pleasure to introduce Laura Click, who has been kind enough to babysit this blog while I am away at a conference. Laura is founder and chief innovator at Blue Kite Marketing, a Nashville-based marketing and social media strategy firm that’s passionate about helping small businesses reach new heights. I discovered Laura’s blog earlier this year and have enjoyed her insights on how small businesses can excel with social media and marketing.
Every business thinks they are excellent at customer service.
But, most are dead wrong. And maybe you are too.
Sure, you might take care of the big, obvious things. Your staff might be friendly, and you have real people answering the phone. But, I’m willing to bet there are some things you are doing that are silently frustrating your customers.
And, you have no idea.
Sure, there are the squeaky wheels out there that love to make noise about how you’ve wronged them. However, the silent majority stew about their irritating experiences with you.
Sometimes, the smallest things make the biggest impression. If you want to want to keep your clients and encourage them to refer your business to others, make sure you don’t commit these offenses:
We often have good reasons for not getting the job done on time. Maybe you were sick or buried under other deadlines. However, your clients don’t care. They want the job done on time as promised.
If you’re unable to reach a deadline, give your client the heads up. They will be much more forgiving if you let them know you will be behind, especially if you have good reason for it. But, whatever you do, don’t let this become a habit.
Occasionally, unexpected things come up that prevent us from arriving somewhere on time. However, meetings running long or difficulty finding parking are not good reasons to be late. That’s just bad planning on your part.
Give yourself some cushion between meetings should things run long and allow enough time to travel to your next appointment. If you’re going to be more than a few minutes late, be sure to call and let them know you are on your way.
It’s easy to get crushed under the weight of an overflowing inbox. However, that’s no excuse for not returning messages.
Most messages should be returned within 2-3 days (if not sooner). Even if you can’t get the answers to the person right away, acknowledge that you received the message. That goes a long way.
Whether you offer a product or service, we’re all in the business of delivering results. Your product should work properly, and your services should focus on helping clients reach their goals.
If you’re not helping your customers solve their problems or make their lives easier, you are going to have a difficult time staying in business.
If you’re in a service-based business, you likely have to provide cost estimates to your clients. And sometimes, there’s no way to predict when things are going to take longer than you projected.
Although your time is valuable, think before you start charging extra for projects going over budget. Customers don’t care about how long it takes to get something done. What they do care about is that the job is completed. Be mindful of how you price your services so you can avoid nickel and diming them.
If clients vocalize their concerns about your business, it’s important to listen to their feedback and work to make things right. It’s easy to get defensive or just ignore negative comments, but that will just make the situation worse.
People often change their tenor when they hear back from the company that wronged them. So, Listen. Respond. Make things right with the customer. Then, work to correct the issue moving forward.
If you want to wow your clients and keep them coming back for more, here are a few principles to remember:
Every customer wants to feel important – even if they are the smallest client or one of many. It says a lot about a company if they roll out the red carpet for every customer, regardless of their size or how much money they spend. And believe me, your customers will notice.
Think of every way your business interacts with clients – phone, email, meetings, invoicing – and make sure it is seamless and positive. Every employee is a customer service ambassador, not just the frontline staff. Make sure they all know how to handle clients with dignity and respect.
If you want to stand out for all the right reasons, go out of your way to do unexpected, over-the-top gestures for your customers. Do this and you won’t be able to stop people from spreading the good word about your business.
What frustrates you most as a customer? As a business, how do you ensure you’re not making these missteps?
Guest Post Disclaimer: Guest Posts on the Customers That Stick blog are submitted by individual guest posters and in no way represent the opinions or endorsement of CTS Service Solutions, its owners or employees. CTS Service Solutions does not represent or guarantee the truthfulness, accuracy, or reliability of statements or facts posted by Guest Posters on this blog.