The first step to providing strong customer service is taken by ensuring that all employees within your company have an extensive knowledge of the inner and outer workings of your product or service. If the customer suspects that the person they’re talking too isn’t well-informed on their issue, they’ll quickly begin to lose trust in your company, which is something you want to avoid at all costs. A business’s reputation is founded primarily in the trust of their customers.
Know Your Product or Service
Not only should you know your own products, but you should know your competitors’ products as well, and where their shortcomings are in addressing your customers’ needs. This way, you can shape your support services in a way that shows your customers that you can address their needs better than the other companies can.
Prioritize Good Training
When a customer calls or shoots you an email, no matter how small and ad hoc your business may be, in order to gain their trust, they need to feel that the person they’re communicating with is competent in the service their providing. This means you should provide some level of training with regards to how to speak with customers and handle the myriad issues that will come their way. There’s a variety of resources out there for small business owners who need to up their training game, despite their small size.
Be Respectful and Listen
One of the worst things a customer can experience when interacting with support is the feeling that the person on the other end is unresponsive and uncaring. This can cause them to feel as if they’ve been betrayed and have nowhere else to turn in their quest to solve their issue. This means that, whether the request is made by email, phone, or in person, that you listen very carefully to both what is said, and what is unsaid by the customer. When interacting in person, paying attention to body language and other non-verbal cues becomes paramount. While communicating over the phone, the tone of voice is crucial as well.
Get Feedback and Use It
Anyone who’s contacted customer support is familiar with being asked to participate in a survey afterward. Despite this minor annoyance, these feedback gathering tools are actually quite important. But, they don’t always have to come in the form of a survey. It may not be popular, but asking for feedback in an immediate and informal way is perfectly acceptable as well. In fact, you may find that the customer is more honest and forthcoming that way.
Once you’ve collected the feedback you need, make sure to review it periodically and actually make the changes necessary to avoid whatever missteps have been pointed out by customers, or leverage that same feedback to improve upon and amplify the successes you’ve already achieved. Any small business must change and adapt if it wants to grow and thrive.
Always Be Friendly
Experienced business owners know that a poor attitude can cause serious harm to the relationship between you and your customers. There’s simply no excuse for it. Instead, always be friends. Simple kindness, no matter how difficult or upset the customer may be, is always in your best interest. Being nice will never make things worse than they already are, and customers are much more likely to return to a business that has treated them well.
Seasoned entrepreneurs know that business is all about forming relationships, and all relationships are built on good faith and trust. As the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously said, “Kind is the golden chain by which society is bound.”
Make Promises, But Keep Them Realistic
Your angry and flustered customers want to know that you can solve their problems, so make sure to tell them so. Make promises, but make sure they’re promises that you can keep. Know what your solution is going to be, and if you don’t have one yet, reassure the customer that you are doing everything that you can to solve their problem because, in reality, you are.
By making promises you can keep, you’re giving your customers the kind of assurance they need to calm their anxieties and place their trust in you. If you can follow through, then the trust is earned, and they’re much more likely to refer you to a friend or leave a positive review online.
Go The Extra Mile
Sometimes, you’ll need to do something to make the customer feel that tangible reality that you care. If a customer comes to you asking a simple question, consider giving them more than a simple answer. If they need to know where to find the door hinges in your hardware store, don’t just tell them it’s in aisle seven. Instead, take them to aisle seven. And if they’re looking for a contractor for their home remodeling project, don’t just tell them to ask their neighbors. Show them a good service they can use to find one.
Also, don’t be afraid to throw in something extra from time to time, whether that be a coupon code for a discount, a freebie, or just a genuine smile. You could also think of something to add your own signature flair to the interaction. For example, if you sell computer software, you could add a free software suite or free trials on top of the customer support that you provide.
About the Author
Marie Erhart is a Success Manager at FieldPulse, creators of field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. She works with contractors to help them grow their business using best practices.