Customers aren't just an important part of business, they're the most important part. Without them, businesses fail. Obviously, offering a good product or service is important, but that's the easy part. Standing out from the crowd is where things get difficult.
So many businesses these days offer sub-par service. Having exceptional service not only helps you stand out but (more importantly) increases trust, customer loyalty, and the likelihood that customers will recommend you or your service. Here are 7 tips to stand out by having amazing customer service.
Make a great first impression
As soon as a potential customer reaches out to you, show that you're interested in their business by responding quickly. You may offer a great service but if you take too long to respond, you've potentially lost that customer. If you can't respond in a timely manner how can they trust that you can deliver on time? Thank them for taking the time to contact you, and ask questions about what they're looking for so you can start building that relationship.
Give them everything they need to say yes
Lay everything out in an easy to understand way. Although jargon may make you sound "professional", it can quickly lead to frustration and miscommunication. Highlight the available options and decisions that need to be made before the work can begin. Do go into depth about the work you'll do, your process, and the reasons for doing it that way, but keep the language as simple as possible. This not only prevents misunderstandings, but builds trust and shows the customer your attention to detail. Don't forget to differentiate yourself from the competition and emphasize why you're the right person for the job.
Always respond quickly
When a customer reaches out with a question and you're busy or don't have an answer for them at that time, let them know that they've been heard and you're working on it. If possible, set expectations for when they should hear back from you. Whether through email, a phone call, or text message, make sure they know that they're a priority and not being pushed to the back-burner. Even a simple reply of "I'm on it." will reduce the amount of frustration while they're waiting.
Be honest & transparent
It goes without saying that trust is vital in any relationship, and the relationship you have with your customers is no different. If an issue comes up, whether it has already occurred or might happen in the future, bring it up with the customer as soon as possible. They would rather hear about issues directly from you instead of finding out on their own. Customers need to be able to trust that you have everything under control. This will improve the confidence they have in you, which will help you weather any additional issues down the road.
It's not always smooth sailing and there will be times when you need to deal with problems. When an issue occurs, take responsibility for the situation even if it wasn't directly your fault. That doesn't necessarily mean laying the blame on yourself, but it does mean taking initiative in finding a solution and resolving the issue. These situations make or break businesses and "Sorry for any inconvenience" is an unsympathetic and uncaring response. Instead, put yourself in your customer's shoes and imagine what words you'd like to hear in that situation. Customers are going to recommend the companies that handled the tough situations, not the companies that deflected and blamed others.
Listen to your customer
If a customer comes to you with a suggestion for how your product or service could be "better", make it clear you appreciate their feedback. It may not be something you agree with, but they took time out of their busy life to share their thoughts with you. Your customers won't have as much insight into your business as you do, but acknowledging and listening to their opinions and suggestions gives you deeper insight into your customers and ultimately strengthens your relationship with them.
Stay in touch
The end of a project is only the start of your relationship with a customer. Check in periodically to make sure your customers are satisfied and have everything they need. You can give a quick call or send a periodic mailing or email to past customers. This is a great opportunity to see if they need any additional services and to ask for referrals. Something as simple as "I wanted to follow up to make sure you're still happy with our work. Keep us in mind for your next project, and don't hesitate to reach out with any questions!" can ensure that customer keeps coming back. Make it clear that you're available to answer questions they may have, and provide contact information to make it easy for them to get ahold of you. When you show that you care about their success, they're more likely to come to you with repeat business and mention you to their family, friends, and colleagues.