Have you been a little selfish with your customers lately? Ignoring their needs, not listening to their desires, or just flat-out hoping to move from zero to sale with little to no effort on your part?
If so, it’s no wonder your customers haven’t been responding as you’d hoped. They don’t feel appreciated — they sure as hell don’t feel pretty or special — and if things don’t change soon, you’re probably never going to seal the deal.
Why is this? Because customer service is a lot like foreplay. If you’re not willing to put in the work, you’re not going to reap the benefits a happy, satisfied customer has to offer.
Yes, we know you’re busy running a business, possibly managing employees, and if that’s not enough – you’re balancing a personal life too. With all of this on your plate, it’s easy to forget that implementing just a few extra customer service touches could make all the difference to your customers — and for your business.
Still, no matter how much you have going on, you can’t deny that offering excellent customer service is not only what will keep your customers happy, but it’s what will set you apart from the competition.
Luckily, we’ve done the dirty work for you and already come up with 10 fast and easy customer service tips that’ll leave your customers feeling wanted, appreciated, and ready for more.
1. Say My Name, Dammit
Your customers are people – and people like to feel appreciated. One way to let your customers know that you value their business is by asking for their names when they come into your store… and remembering them the next time they stop by too.
Yes, it can be hard to remember names, but you won’t have to do this with everyone (as that would be impossible). But if you notice you’re starting to get some regulars, make it a point to ask their names — and greet them warmly next time they visit. They’ll feel appreciated and you’ll have wowed them with excellent customer service — all by the time they’ve walked in the door.
Kristi Hedges, a writer for Forbes, suggests this tactic to help you remember your customers’ names: “Conjure a verbal game or image when you first hear a name. This could be an alliterative pattern involving something you know about the person, i.e. Forbes.com contributor Helen Coster gives the catchy example of “Joann from Jersey.” Or consider something about the person’s interests or job, i.e. Sarah’s in sales, so Sarah Sells.”
2. Give Your Customers a Reason to Be Faithful
I love when a business has a loyalty card. Why? Because it makes you feel like you’re getting more bang for your buck – and it shows the company values a faithful customer.
And if I’m given the choice of going shopping at one business that rewards me ‘X’ amount off for every ‘X’ amount I spend – well, I’m going to choose that business rather than another because my dollar will go further there.
So give your customers a loyalty card, or come up with some kind of loyalty program, to show them that their devotion is appreciated, and better yet, rewarded.
Not sure how to get started? Check out this article by the Small Business Administration: 7 Tips for Starting a Successful Loyalty Program.
3. Babe, You Gotta Have a Gimmick
A gimmick, a perk, a hook, an edge… whatever you want to call it, it’s time you had one.
Whether you offer free gift-wrapping with every purchase, free coffee for customers, a fun discount wheel that customers can spin for a percentage off a future purchase, or complimentary lollipops for little ones, this customer service tactic is fast, easy, and sure to please.
4. Use Criticism to Get Better
You know what I’ve noticed lately? That companies largely ignore customer service complaints until you take them to a social media site like Twitter.
And then the second that you actually go through with sending that angry tweet, they, almost instantly, want to rectify the situation. Why? Because the complaint is now public and could potentially dissuade other people from purchasing from them. That is not okay.
Be the type of business owner who handles all complaints immediately, whether they’re received by email, a phone call, or social media. Ignoring a complaint only makes a customer more irritated – and more apt to let the world know of the bad experience they’ve had at your store.
Plus, responding to complaints right away gives you the chance to save that customer’s business — and your reputation — by offering a fair solution to each complaint in a timely manner.
5. Keep the Glass Half Full
Jill Hoffman, a marketing expert for Marketo, says keeping the glass half full with your customers, even when you can’t immediately meet their needs, will help them stay satisfied with your business.
She says, “Think and speak positively. Instead of telling customers what you can’t do, tell them what you can do. Instead of highlighting that you can’t replace the broken part for two weeks, emphasize that you’re placing the order for the part right now.”
6. Go the Extra Mile… with a Smile
Yes, it’s super annoying when a customer has procrastinated and is now asking you to go the extra mile by accommodating a large, last-minute order.
But… if you fulfill it, happily, you may have just made a customer for life – and earned their word-of-mouth referrals.
Emergency and last-minute accommodations build loyalty and trust, which often translates to repeat customers and a great reputation for going above and beyond for your customers, making it well worth the initial hassle. Remember, excellent customer service doesn’t always come easily — but when you’re willing to do something others won’t, you differentiate your business from the rest.
7. Catch Them Off-Guard
Using the element of surprise to your advantage can be a really great (and easy) way for you to boost customer service satisfaction at your business.
Why not toss in an unexpected freebie when a customer reaches a certain purchase level, or discount their order by 10% because they’re your 10th customer of the day?
There are many ways you can surprise (and delight) your customers with an unexpected gift or discount, and since you control its value, this tactic works well for any budget.
8. Hold ‘Em to High Standards
You know what doesn’t build confidence? When your employees can’t answer a customer’s questions.
If your employees are saying things like, “Uhm, yeah, I think so.” and “Hmm, that’s a good question.” don’t be surprised if your customer service levels plummet right along with your profit.
To combat this problem, come up with an internal FAQ about your company/products. Each time an employee is hired, and at regular intervals throughout their employment, have them read it – and give them a test that they must pass.
This is a great way to ensure your employees are armed with enough knowledge to properly, and professionally, assist your customers.
9. Celebrate Your Customers
Who doesn’t like to be remembered on their birthday, and better yet, receive a special deal just for being born?
When you collect customer information, be sure to ask for their date of birth. This information will allow you to celebrate each customer individually by emailing or snail-mailing them a birthday card and including some kind of birthday-exclusive treat.
You might offer 15% off during their birthday week, 50% off on their birthday only, or opt to take that excellent customer service one step further by inviting them to stop in for a small birthday gift – no strings attached.
10. Become the Total Package
Your body language, facial expression, tone of voice… they’re all a part of how your customers perceive you, whether you like it or not.
If you don’t look welcoming, if you’re bored, if you sound annoyed, well, all of these things can cost you sales, as well as land you on a customer’s ‘stores to never return to’ list.
Whether you’re at your retail location or handling phone orders, you need to sound cheerful, happy to help, and appreciative that they’ve chosen you – even if you’re feeling not-so-chipper at the moment.
Foreplay for the Win
Yes, as we’ve seen here today, customer service is a lot like foreplay. So don’t be afraid to seduce your customers each day with a welcoming hello, entice them with a loyalty program that encourages faithfulness, and lure them, figuratively, into your arms with an irresistible sale.
Start by choosing a few, or even just one, of the ideas above to show your customers that you care about their happiness and will actively, starting now, put in the necessary work to keep them satisfied.
And — if you’re lucky — you will have pleased them so much that they’ll start blowing up your phone with orders, stopping by your store unexpectedly just to say “hi,” and, of course, raving about your customer service skills to all of their friends.
Yes, when it comes to receiving outstanding customer service, people always kiss and tell, and that, in this case, is a very, very good thing.
Share your ideas for achieving excellent customer service below.