Last week I asked the question, “Are All Customers Equal?”. Many of the responses mentioned the issue of allocating limited resources, and explained the cost advantage of providing better service to better/more influential customers.
If you want to see my responses, just read through the comments. I thought it might be helpful to share some “little things” that you can use to provide better customer service without spending much money. Remember that in any first interaction with someone, it’s often the little things that count and stick out.
1. Don’t get mad at people for wanting help.
Nothing drives a customer more crazy than talking to a rude customer service rep who doesn’t want to talk to you. Guess what, the customer doesn’t want to be talking to you either. The fact that they’re talking to you means something went wrong with your product. Be kind and respectful, unless you’re disrespected.
2. Say “Thank You” when the customer you’re helping is friendly and respectful.
This happened to me once with Microsoft (X Box). My 360 had fallin ill with the “ring of death” and I needed a new one. I called a rep, put in my order for a free replacement, and everything went smoothly.
At the end of the conversation, before we said goodbye, he said, “I just want to thank you for being so respectful and friendly to me”. It really stuck with me. I actually felt good after hanging up the phone with a customer service rep.
3. Check up on your customer once in a while.
Just drop a quick message that says “Hey, how can we help?” and don’t ask for anything in return. Show that you want your customers to be happy. Do this enough, you might be able to gain some control over the flow of customer service requests, and allocate resources accordingly.
It could be a mass email if you don’t want to spend the time but don’t message them too often as you don’t want to spam them.
4. Take away the hoops.
Don’t make it hard for customers to get in touch with you. If you don’t have a rep available, let them leave their number and call them back. Again…let them know that you care about them. Trust me, there is a strong correlation between the amount of time a customer spends waiting on the phone and the patience they have when you finally pick up.
5. If you find out there’s an issue with your product, don’t wait for the the complaint…just apologize.
I was having lunch with my girlfriend the other day and she ordered a sandwich without tomatoes (she’s crazy…I love tomatoes).
When the chef watched her open the sandwich and saw that he accidentally added tomatoes, he said, from accross the cafe, “SORRY! I saw your reaction and realized my mistake”. He then walked over and said “let me get those out of your face” and took the tomoes away.
He was funny, had a great attitude about making a mistake, and provided great service. (The last time I went there, they gave me a free espresso shot because the yankees hit a homerun. I love this place)
You can set the tone of your interaction early by giving off good vibes. If you’re providing customer service over the phone or internet, then talk or write like you’re smiling to the best of your ability.
Most of these practices are reliant on having good employees that care about the company. If your employees don’t believe in your company, how can you expect customers to believe in you?
What are some other ways businesses can provide better customer service without spending a lot of money? Know of any other “little things” that count?
Thanks to Jon Klar for contributing point #1.