Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Customer service

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     Customers and clients are arguably the most important aspect of your business. They buy your products, they sign up for your services, and they spread the word about your operation.

     All this means that you must focus a great deal of your attention on them. Keep 'em happy and keep 'em satisfied, and they will make you a part of their lives.

     Example: Donald operates a large cigar shop and mail order operation. Customers walk in, but Donald's main business is selling cigars to customers all over the country. He continually updates his website, offers specials, and ships for free on orders more than $100. The phone-in order desk is staffed by three people. When they get a complaint, they are authorized to offer free cigars, free shipping--whatever will satisfy the person complaining. To check up on the order desk people, Donald has mystery shoppers call in and place orders. They report back to Donald on how they were treated by people on the order desk. The purpose of all this is to maintain a high level of customer service. Donald has used the reports to increase training of order takers, and, in one case, replace the person with a more congenial person. 

     Example: Sandra runs a frozen yogurt shop. She concentrates on kids and offers all sorts of contests that appeal to the younger set. She uses social media to encourage youngsters to stop in, to partake in the contests, and to tell their friends about the latest yogurt flavors. Usually, everything is positive, but, occasionally, a bad comment sneaks onto Sandra's social media pages. She checks her site twice each day, and when she finds a less than complimentary entry, she goes into action. She responds by thanking the person and offering a free yogurt. The important thing here is that the other kids see how well Sandra treats everyone, regardless of their comments. It builds positive customer service. 

     Always listen to your customers and clients. And listen "between the lines" because you can learn a lot there. Listen to your clients and customers and they will show you the way forward. 

     Everyone wants to be treated well. Do this and you build familiarity with customers and clients. You want the relationship to be one of trust and loyalty to your brand, your shop, your operation. 

     In business, never get caught up in the blame game. It's easy to blame the customer or client. It's easy to blame the economy. It's easy to blame others for problems that are your own. Don't do it--your job is to find the way forward in spite of any problem that comes up.