Customer Service: The Lost Art
Have you noticed that the level of service that you receive as a consumer is not what it used to be? In today's markets, one would think that companies would be attentive to the needs of their customers and try to supply them with a high level of service. In this article, we will discuss how to supply a level of service which will retain our customers, and perhaps even attract new ones.
Rule 1: Make your customer feel welcomed and appreciated
Upon walking in, I immediately noticed the first flagrant customer experience infraction: Lack of interest in the customer. You may be asking yourself how one can get the feeling that staff is disinterested in taking care of the customer. The answer to this is quite simple. When a customer walks into your place of business, they must almost immediately feel like someone is there to answer any questions or fulfill any request. In this particular instance, the staff behind the counter was chit chatting with another "off hours" employee that was strategically placed in front of the counter. Having three employees leaning on the counter, talking with another employee on the other side, gives the customer the impression that he is intruding or interrupting. As a business owner, you only want to promote positive feelings and emotions within your customers. You want a customer to feel welcomed and that their business is appreciated, and not a nuisance.
Rule 2: A professional attitude goes a long way
Once the staff noticed my presence, the crowd immediately dissipated and a cashier "graciously" gestured that I could come forward. No verbal greeting, or smile, or apology for a situation that was clearly unprofessional. The employee simply looked in my direction with a blank stare, waiting for my order. I ordered my cup of coffee and my donut. As she was preparing my coffee at the other end of the counter, she yelled back at me to find out what I wanted in my coffee, and thus forcing me to yell back "two milks please". The following words out of her mouth were to tell my how much the order came to. Communication with a customer should be viewed as a transaction. The problem with many establishments is the incorrect perceptions that this transaction strictly monetary. In reality it should be viewed as a two way exchange of information ultimately ending with an exhange of money for services or products rendered. However, from start to finish this transaction should be viewed as an opportunity to gain the customer's trust and loyalty by being courteous and attentive to their requests and needs. It is true that all businesses are generally interested in making money, however customer retention should also be an important part of any business's bottom line. In this particular situation, I was left with the feeling that this person did not care about getting my order right and that they were only interested in getting my money. Validate your customers' requests throughout the transaction. Make sure that before you set the wheels in motion in terms of production, that you fully understand what the customer wants and let them know that you do understand the request.
Rule 3: Keep it clean
At this stage, I have successfully purchased my goods and proceed to sit down at the nearest uncluttered table I can find. As I start eating, I immediately notice the level of dissarray of this coffee shop. There are trays and empty containers of food all over the tables, the garbage bins heaping with trash and the floors are filthy. Had this been a very busy time of the day, I would have perhaps understood the mess, however, given the fact that when I walked in, the staff was happilly chit chatting and wasting time, this is utterly unacceptable. Rather than presenting the customer with a comfortable area in which to eat, they would much rather just like to talk amongst themselves. Keep you place of business as presentable as possible at all times. Show the customer that you value your business and that you value them being there. The three rules above can be applied to any type of business, but interesting parallels can be made between the example above and online business. When a customer goes to your website to inquire about a service or products, make sure that they are presented with clean and clear storefront, and that they feel that their transaction is important to you. Be ready to field any question they may have along the way and be as polite and courteous as possible at all times.
The principles of good customer service are especially important in an online setting for the simple reason that a customer may not purchase something with you immediately online, however are more likely to return to your site if they feel that they are dealing with professional and courteous business owners.
Article Tags: Customer Service
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fabian Aubrey writes informative articles on technology and online business at www.quebequoi.com in the hopes of helping small businesses and individuals achieve greater internet success.