As a small business owner I’m sure you’d agree there are so many things to focus on: marketing, sales, systems, I.T., finance, B.A.S., recruitment, stock and inventory control, just to name a few! So it is no surprise that for many small business owners the topic of ‘Customer Service’ fades into the background and is something we only think about now and again.
If you want to build a great business however, then you need to see your customers and the service you provide, as the epicentre of your business. After all, your customers are the people that pay you money and keep you in business.
Furthermore, by focusing more on the customer (and even stepping into their shoes) you will:
- Create a greater level of rapport which is the basis of all successful relationships
- Be remembered by customers which will lead to positive word-of-mouth referrals
- Make better decisions and ensure you only sell things that your customers want
- Uncover opportunities for up-selling that you might have overlooked
- You’ll be able to charge premium pricing, which leads to more profit
It’s clear: great customer service offers huge rewards. So here are five powerful principles to get your focus back on track and help you achieve your business goals even faster:
1. Be Present
As business owners we are so often thinking about either the past or the future. Our heads are swirling with all of the things we need to do. The first stage of great customer service however, is to be present. That is, not to think about what you’ve just done or what you need to do next. Instead focus only on the person in front of you and how you can create an exceptional experience. By doing so you’ll make people feel acknowledged and appreciated, which they will love you for.
2. Ask Questions
People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care
One of the biggest criticisms I hear about sales people is, ‘they talked too much’. When sales people get an inclination that I might be interested in something, they proceed to tell me as much as they know about their product. There is an old saying I like, it is: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” And what is the best way to show someone you care? Ask them questions first before you jump in. “What made you come into our store?” Or, “When it comes to a home printer (for example), what’s important to you?” There is no set formula. Just be genuinely interested in them and ask questions, rather than show off your knowledge. Then, once a person feels understood and that you can help them with the right advice, the sale will take care of itself.
3. Match Energy
Some people say, you must always be excited and act enthusiastic. Sure that might work for some people but it will also turn others off. Instead great customer service is all about being flexible and willing to adapt your approach to match the other person. If a customer is talking loudly and fast, attempt to do the same. If they are calm and more centred, slow down and think more about the words you say. Remember: “People like people like themselves.” So extend your range and allow your customers to guide the type of service they want from you.
4. Discuss Constantly
I have sat in on a lot of business meetings and rarely does the topic of Customer Service come up. It’s always about new marketing campaigns or sales targets for the month. Sure these things are important, however you must always ensure that the topic of Customer Service is discussed in all meetings. For example, you could have everybody share what was their best customer service experience of the week. Be warned, the first time you do this you’ll probably get blank looks (because people aren’t yet being present). However keep asking because people will soon start becoming more conscious of their interactions and over time they’ll have loads of positive stories to share.
5. Recognise Effort
There’s an old saying, ‘what gets recognised gets done’. So to further expand on the point above, consider introducing some new awards for your staff. You might already have ‘Staff Member of the Month’, which recognises work ethic and performance. But you should also add ‘Customer Service Champion’. You can call it what you like, however make it special and people will soon start becoming competitive and will strive to achieve it. More importantly it will keep people focused and conscious about feeding back Customer Service stories, which provide great training opportunities for the rest of the team. In addition, these stories will prompt testimonials, which are a massive asset to your business.
So there you have it – five powerful principles for taking your customer service to greater heights. It’s true that business is a juggling act, but Customer Service is one ball you can’t afford to drop.