Improve Your Customer Service With This Collection of Strategies and Ideas
written by: Cayden Conor•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 9/20/2011
To improve your customer service, identify any internal issues and fix them first. Satisfied clients are your best source of repeat business. These happy customers spread the word about your business and increase your sales. Learn how to create this win-win scenario in your company.
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Improving customer service is one of the best things you can do for your business. Before you can improve customer service, you must improve employee morale, communication between employees, and communication between employees and supervisors. A poorly run office or shop is reflected in how your employees work with the customers. If an employee does not feel good about his job, he or she exhibits this attitude to your customers.
Once communication and employee morale are established, you must ensure that communication between your employees and your customers is top-notch. If a customer is cranky, employees must understand that they cannot retaliate with rudeness. They must try to make the customer happy. Remind them that many times, the customer is already primed for a hassle because he or she experienced negative customer treatment at another place that provided the same type of service as you provide.
If your employees make a mistake and a customer is upset, make sure that they know how to work with the client to make them happy. If you prefer that someone in a supervisory position work with any dissatisfied customers, your employees need to know to refer the individual to that supervisor or to someone who specializes in working with unhappy customers.
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Repair Your Business First
Before you work on customer service, ensure that your internal business practices are above-board. Make sure your employees are happy and have positive attitudes. You should have excellent communication with all of your employees regardless of their position in the company. Employees need to understand how the business works and should know what to do if an unhappy customer approaches them.
An employee with poor morale projects his or her attitude onto the customer, which makes a less than pleasurable experience for the customer, and he or she may not return. Your business must run smoothly because customers build the business.
For instance, if you charge an individual a certain price point but charge another one a different price, you could be charging two friends two different amounts. It's almost guaranteed that they will talk about how one got ripped off. Would your employees know what to do in this situation especially if both individuals showed up at your business to complain?
Keep prices and policies the same company wide on each type of service or product to reduce customer complaints. If a customer does have a question about your services or products, make sure that all employees can either answer the question or know where to find someone who does know the answer.
If your business uses software to answer the phone or if you have a web presence (especially if you take orders over the web) be sure that your software doesn’t annoy the customers. Annoyed customers leave and do not become repeat customers. A customer that is overly annoyed may even tell his friends that your customer service is not good because he or she cannot get through your phone answering software or because your website is always down and prevents one from placing an order.
Analyze your business practices at least once a year to ensure that the internal business is running smoothly and that your employees are providing excellent customer service in addition to making sure all software is functioning properly.
Working With Employees to Improve Customer Service
Ensuring that your employees understand the basics of your business and have good morale is a key factor in providing good customer service. This also increases productivity. Increased productivity comes from happy employees; satisfied employees create a positive atmosphere in the workplace. If you have employees that do not understand your work ethic and business requirements, consider implementing a mentoring program or employee reward programs to help them to understand and to implement your business standards.
If your employees do not know your products and services inside-out, hold training meetings to teach them what they need to know. They should be able to answer routine questions that a customer may ask. Employee reward programs encourage employees to learn more about the company and to impart their knowledge to customers. This develops excellent customer service.
Measure Your Customers’ Reactions and Feelings About Your Business
One of the ways to determine if your business is “working" for your customers is to ask them. You can use comment cards or ask them to complete a survey. If you do a survey, there should be enough room on the form for your customers to write in comments. Take your customers’ comments to heart. If they are requesting a change, consider implementing that change especially if a majority of the customers ask for it.
Often, you may think that you have to do something just "because the customer is always right." This is not necessarily true. If your service or product was defective, then you might want to appease the customer, but if the customer is complaining and you know he or she is complaining just to get something for free, it is probably not a good idea to give up the freebie (depending on the cost). I
f it's a matter of a few dollars, you might do what the individual is asking just to keep him or her quiet, but the ultimate decision is yours as the business owner. Just make sure to explain to the customer why he or she is not getting a freebie especially if the person is exhibiting buyer's remorse.
Feedback from customers is important, and businesses use this information to find out where they may have missed the mark in satisfying their customer's needs. By knowing what their client base wants and expects, they know how to tweak their future products and services to better suit the needs of their target market.
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