Everybody is a customer service critic; from the petrol station to the Michelin star restaurant, we all have ideas about what constitutes good service. As business owners, it’s important to reflect on your own level of service from time to time, whether that be in person, via phone, over email, or even through your online shopping service. Here’s a checklist for making sure your service is getting customers talking for all the right reasons.
Are you really listening to your customers? This includes paying attention across all touch points: in store, over the phone and on social media. Encourage your staff to actively listen to clients, empathise, rephrase and clarify customer concerns to ensure their needs and desires are fulfilled. Never finish a conversation without confirming the customer is happy, and never let a social media enquiry go unanswered for more than 24 hours – or you can be confident they’ve gone to visit your competitor.
2. Feedback & follow up
Using digital and print feedback forms can give a voice to quiet customers and uncover pain points that people may be reluctant to raise in conversation. It is important to follow up on these forms, thanking customers for their suggestions and informing them of your plans to rectify the situation. Consider offering an incentive for completing the forms to encourage customers to share their experiences and ideas for improvements.
Be sure to ask your customers to review your services. as that’s the key to not only building your reputation, but attracting new customers, too!
3. Set an example
If you’re the manager, it’s paramount to lead by example. If your attention to customers becomes lax or inconsistent, staff will see this as an opportunity to relax into less attentive roles and lose focus on the most important aspect of your business: customers. If you have a physical shopfront, make sure every person who enters the shop is acknowledged within five seconds. Even if you are serving someone, a simple smile, ‘hello’, or ‘I’ll be with you in a moment’ makes customers feel welcome and noticed.
4. Recognise & reward
If a staff member has been named in a customer survey or feedback form for delivering exceptional customer service, reward them with a small token of your appreciation: movie tickets, chocolates or some other form of reward that’s not going to break the bank when all your staff start to respond to incentives and go above and beyond for every client!
5. Talk it out
Regular staff meetings give staff and management an opportunity to discuss issues around poor customer service and collaboratively brainstorm how to improve processes and client interactions. This can involve non-threatening role-plays involving hypothetical customers with difficult demands, followed by group discussion on how the customer was handled and areas for improvement. Having a staff suggestion box can also encourage open, ongoing dialogue between staff and management in larger teams.
6. Staff training
Staff training needn’t be an expensive, time consuming and emotionally taxing exercise; it can be the five minutes you spend with each staff member (or yourself) at the beginning of a shift to establish areas of customer service you want to focus on improving that day: greeting customers within the first five seconds or actively profiling clients to meet their needs. Learning the DOPE Bird Personality Types test (dove, own, peacock and eagle) will help you and your staff better understand customers’ purchasing behaviour so you can respond to their individual shopping style.
7. Build communities
Your customers’ shopping experience needn’t end once the service as been provided.
By engaging your customers in communities – whether online or otherwise – they feel a sense of belonging, connection and trust. This can be achieved through creating Facebook groups where customers can interact with each other and ask questions of your business in an open forum.
Having ‘member-only’ promotions will also make customers feel special and encourage new clients to join.
Doing the same thing every day can be tiresome for people who need a little more stimulation to keep them at peak performance. Every now and then, surprise staff by breaking routine and trying something different: bring cake to work, dress up in theme for a special calendar occasion, or shout the team coffee once a month.
Happy staff translate to satisfied customers, and you can even get the customers involved by including a free chocolate or other inexpensive seasonal treat with every purchase.
9. Own it
Admitting mistakes is never easy to do, but it shows character and builds trust. If you can find an error on your part before the customers picks up on it, be sure to contact them (where possible) and let them know. They will appreciate your honesty and feel confident buying from you again.
Contact phone numbers are increasingly disappearing from websites and figuring out the navigation path can take all morning. Getting decent customer service over the phone these days is proving difficult. Provide a phone number for customers who like to call for information as opposed to emailing, and provide at least 2-3 contact points to give clients options: Facebook, Twitter, email, mobile, live chat or online enquiry forms. Providing a comprehensive FAQs page will also help people find answers in a hurry without needing to pick up the phone.
Exceptional customer service can mean the difference between your business and the one next door selling exactly the same products for a cheaper price. It’s also the right thing to do by your customers.
It’s about giving your customers an unforgettable experience they will associate with your brand, which sees them return for repeat purchases and refer family and friends. Create your own customer service checklist as it applies to your business and return to it periodically to ensure your business is performing at its peak and you’re making the most of your word of mouth advertising.