August 1, 2017
The People aspect of business is really what it is all about. Rule #1: Think of customers as individuals. Once we think that way, we realize our business is our customer, not our product…
The People aspect of business is really what it is all about. Rule #1: Think of customers as individuals.
Once we think that way, we realize our business is our customer, not our product or services. Putting all the focus on the merchandise in our store, or the services our corporation offers, leaves out the most important component: each individual customer.
Keeping them in mind, here are some easy, down-home customer service tips to keep them coming back!
Remember there is no way the quality of customer service can exceed the quality of the people who provide it. Think you can get by paying the lowest wage, giving the fewest of benefits, doing the least training for your employees? It will show. Companies don’t help customers, people do.
Include a thank-you note in a customer’s package; send a birthday card; clip the article when you see their name or photo in print; write a congratulatory note when they get a promotion. There are all sorts of ways for you to keep in touch with your customers and to bring them closer to you. For example instead of asking customers to buy directly at holiday time, Miki Segal, chief marketing officer at JMAC Supply, sends customers a small token of gratitude with a card to make a personal connection. She believes that instead of making a product pitch, she shows how much she values the relationship.
For your business: Forget expensive gifts. What can you send thoughtfully to a customer to show that you value their business? Video greeting cards are easy to make and share online with tools like GoAnimate and Animoto. Customers are also impressed with donations to their favorite charities.
Employees take their cue from management. Do you greet your employees enthusiastically each day; are you polite in your dealings with them; do you try to accommodate their requests; do you listen to them when they speak? Consistent rude customer service is a reflection not as much of the employee as of the management.
Try providing a direct line of communication between owner and customer. Oren Dobronsky, president of Oren’s Hummus Shop, a restaurant in Palo Alto, California, fears bad feedback from his customers. He knows there’s a higher risk for it on busier days, such as holidays and special events. Dobronsky found that when he’s at his restaurant, employees perform better and there are fewer complaints. Unfortunately, he can’t always be there.
To solve the problem, Dobronsky created Owner Listens, which is an app business owners can sign up for that enables customers to text or email with the owner personally (and anonymously if desired). He says customers are “blown away” when they get a quick direct response from him. Dobronsky promotes this service on his restaurant tables and bill folders. Now, his staff works harder to ensure that no bad feedback goes directly to the owner. He says it’s like always having a secret holiday shopper in the room.
For your business: How can you offer the opportunity for the customer to give direct feedback to you?
One of the best customer experience features on the new Kindle Fire tablet is a “Mayday” button that gets a human tech support representative on the screen in a pop up window. It’s actually a live video feed of an Amazon customer support person who is there to help. (Don’t worry, they can’t see the user.) When Warby Parker discovered how difficult it was to answer complicated questions in just 140 characters, they decided to leverage videos to help customers resolve their issues. Employees got on camera to nuke questions on prescriptions, frames, and even shipping times for glasses. Their customers were so blown away by the videos that they started spreading the word about them.
For your business: How can you offer pop up video chat on your website during peak hours in addition to email and phone support?
Following up with new customers can be a great help for navigating the onboarding process. But there are a lot more creative ways to follow up with customers than a simple auto-responder email. For example from Bark Park, a doggy daycare center, employees write an update card for customers that details how their dog has been doing that week … and the reports are written from the dog’s perspective!
This creative take on checking in with customers is absolutely perfect for this sort of business. I know a lot of people who care for their dogs like parents care for their children, so getting a card like that puts their minds at ease and makes the business stand out in a unique way.
Zappos is a company that is connected to some legendary stories of amazing service. One story about an employee who took service to the next level has some interesting lessons to teach businesses about the dangers of red tape.
A customer was shopping for shoes for her elderly mother. Due to her medical condition, her mother had very sensitive feet and was often in pain when wearing hard-soled shoes. The customer bought six pairs of shoes from Zappos, and her mother tried them on and found two that she could bear to wear for long periods of time.
When it was time for her mother to return the other four pairs, she called Zappos and began this amazing tale of kindness:
In talking with the employee, this elderly woman discovered that the person on the other end of the line could readily relate to her plight; the employee’s father had suffered from similar foot problems due to diabetes. The employee ended the conversation by saying that she would pray for the woman to feel better … but the story doesn’t end there.
The Zappos employee sent her a bouquet of lilies and roses to let her know she was thinking of her. After the woman’s daughters thanked Zappos for taking such good care of their mom, Zappos responded with placing all of them on ‘Zappos VIP Members’ list which entitled them to free expedited shipping on all their orders.
Zappos’ insistence on building a company of sincere and reactive employees (and not of policy-controlled robots that let red tape get in the way of doing the right thing!) is largely the reason they are so beloved by customers.
The icing on the cake? The customer closed out her praise for Zappos with this message: “My sister vows to buy every pair of shoes, from now on, from Zappos.”
April 9, 2018
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January 9, 2018
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December 19, 2017
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