Dealing with people can be difficult.
If you’ve ever worked directly with a customer base, you have first-hand knowledge of this fact.
Some people think they’re entitled to special treatment because of “how much money they spend”.
Some folks just have a hard time communicating.
There are people who are quick to demand of you, but take forever to comply with requests made of them.
Others you may say “haven’t got a clue”.
A few are just bullies who like to cause a scene and act superior to everyone else.
Almost all companies, large and small, seem to be concentrating on improving the bottom line by implementing cost reduction strategies.
Sadly, it appears that many are neglecting perhaps the most important aspect that clients expect: exceptional customer service.
You rarely hear about good customer service
It’s quite true…unless there is some incentive to leave feedback of any kind, good customer service usually goes unrecognized and unrewarded.
While good customer service hardly every gets recognized, poor customer service gains recognition everywhere you turn:
- The person at a retail store asking to speak to a manager as the result of interaction with a disinterested associate,
- A poor tip left at a restaurant due to slow or incorrect service,
- The forum post born out of frustration from being on hold for what seems like an eternity before getting a live person,
- The simple conversation between friends complaining about the lack of planning and service available at the mall on a Sunday afternoon.
The customer may not always be right, but it is the employee’s job to make every effort to try and make every situation right.
It is no secret that happy customers are repeat customers, and that one bad experience left unresolved can drive a customer to a competitor (and they sometimes leave even if a resolution is found).
Recognize what you do that customers hate
The key to retaining and even growing a customer base is superior customer service.
Yet, time and again companies seem intent on neglecting this most important component:
- extended hold times and difficult to navigate telephone menus,
- poorly trained or even incompetent representatives (every employee represents the company),
- outsourcing jobs to countries with poor phone line reception or poor grasp of the English language,
- unwritten or hidden policies, and
- even ignoring customers altogether.
Any one of those instances or a myriad of other will drive away business, and perhaps worse cause the customer to spread the word of such a distasteful experience.
In an age where new can spread like wildfire, the last thing a business needs is to be bad-mouthed.
A bad experience can be relayed before the event even has a chance to unfold in its entirety thanks to mobile tech.
News of the event can be across the country or even halfway around the world via blog or forum postings.
Upper-management can receive word of a truly bad experience from the customer almost immediately through an e-mail.
There are numerous ways in which such events can be publicized by even the most “insignificant” of customers–and there are businesses that do view customers in such a manner based on amount of money spent or number of repeat purchases.
Combating negative customer experiences
The keys to retaining and growing a customer base are simple and do not take much effort to implement:
- Train company representatives in all aspects of their duties as well as other duties they might be required to undertake
- Instill a culture of “customer-first”, whereby each customer is treated as the most important person at that particular moment
- Encourage company representatives to take the initiative to resolve potential problems before they are allowed to develop
- Empower employees to take corrective measures (within reason) in order resolve customer issues immediately
- Make it easy for customers to contact the company in the event of an issue arising and ensure that the representatives are equipped to deal with those issues
It is not a cost-intensive or difficult process to ensure that customer service is a top priority.
In fact, it may be as simple as giving the customer a warm smile and showing appreciation for their business.
It shouldn’t be too hard considering one simple fact: we are all customers at times, so we know how we would expect to be treated.
It only makes sense to place yourself on the other side when dealing with a disgruntled customer yourself. And, above all, let them know that they are valued and desired, because without the customer, there simply is no business.