Practical tips for small businesses with small budgets

How often have you felt like the salesperson in front of you was being put out by your questions? How did that make you feel? People experience bad customer service everyday. And when they get exceptional service, they take notice. It’s by far the best way to not only keep your customers coming back, but to get them to bring new customers with them.

Here are the 10 rules for providing exceptional customer service.

  1. Commit to being exceptional – If you say that you put customers first, then do it! Approach each customer that comes in the door as if they have a problem that you are going to solve. Make it your mantra.
  2. Know your products – It will be hard to solve customers’ problems if you don’t know the features and benefits of the products and services you offer. Know them inside out so you can confidently answer all questions and be the expert your customers expect you to be.
  3. Know your customers - Just as you neeed to know your products, you need to know the wants and needs of your customers. The only way to do that is to LISTEN. Don’t sell them what they don’t need. Make it your goal to have them leave with the right solution for their problem.
  4. Treat people with courtesy – A simple smile and a thank you goes a long way.
  5. Never argue with a customer – Of course the customer is not always right. You can alleviate some of the tension by listening to the issue and then offering the best possible solution you have to offer. Keep words like but, however and you out of your response to keep from sounding defensive. Instead say something like, “I’m sorry this happened. We can help with this by…” 
  6. Don’t leave customers wondering – Communication is key. Let the customer know where you are in solving their problem or if there will be a delay. Not knowing fuels frustration.
  7. Always keep your promises – Trust cannot be bought. It is earned. If your customers feel you can’t be trusted they will go elsewhere.
  8. Assume customers tell the truth – Try to get beyond assuming they are blowing things out of proportion and focus on resolving the problem. Whatever is to their advantage is to your advantage as well.
  9. Focus on customers, not sales – It’s about quality, not quantity. Too many sales people focus on their own sales numbers and not on meeting the needs of the customer. If you sell them something they don’t want or need you will have derailed future sales. Give them only what they need and they’ll come back when those needs change.
  10. Make it easy to buy – Don’t force customers to jump through hoops to purchase from you. Keep paperwork to a minimum, collect only information that is necessary to provide ongoing service and make it easy to reach your customer service department. Your customers will love you for it.

 

Adapted from AllBusiness.com article, posted Nov 1 2011.

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