In order to grow your business and add depth to your client list, your goal should be to create a lasting, memorable and very positive experience for your customer. Long gone are the days of being satisfactory, there is way too much competition out there to be less than stellar or exemplary when it comes to customer service. Additionally, it's no longer just about the product you provide. Service, support, sales, operations and every other department within your organization must work in tandem, delivering the same amazing service to your customer to keep them coming back. According to Shep Hyken, an expert in customer satisfaction, "Customer service is not a department, it's a philosophy." Going above and beyond is an important factor in getting your customer to come back again and again. Your brand is exposed to the market through a multitude of channels. Word of mouth can make or break your business. Search engine results, social media channels and good old conversations with friends can help you build your client list or bust it completely.
"Customer service is not a department, it's a philosophy." ~Shep Hyken
Regardless of whether you provide a product or a service the customer experience can be affected in many ways. The habits that you create today will have a lasting impression on the customer journey as they come in contact with your brand, dozens or even hundreds of times. Here are five top tips for providing 5-star service.
5-star Customer Service Tip 1: Be Responsive
If you have a presence on social media, you better respond to your customer and prospective customers quickly. Depending on the social channel they reach out to you on, response time should be reflective to the norms on that channel. For example, waiting 24-hours to respond on Twitter would be a mistake. Response time in 2-3 hours is acceptable, but remember expectation is everything. If you want to maintain a presence on social channels like Twitter, be prepared to be quick to respond or be ready to crash and burn via this social opportunity. If, however, you are responsive and can get back to inquiries in just minutes or better yet, immediately, your social influence will be positively positioned. When my Nice Guys message was just being launched in 2013, I spent many hours a day working my social media channels very hard to beef up the customer experience. The payoff was huge, its impact has lasted since changing my approach to response time. Be responsive to your customer, they want to know you care about them, quickly.
5-star Customer Service Tip 2: Anticipate Your Customers's Needs
While no one can profess to be a genie in a bottle, you should be considered the expert in your industry and therefore, you should be able to anticipate the needs of your customers. Look at it this way, when you initially get an inquiry call from a prospective customer, don't you innately know most of the questions they are going to ask? If you don't feel you know everything about your product or service, do a bit more research on your industry or the company you represent. Write down each and every question you would have if you were looking at buying what your company sells. Additionally, write down every question you would anticipate you would ask if you were using your product. Keep a notepad or running list of questions and the answers you feel best answer the questions. Include questions in each area of concern for your client: sales, service, support, accounting, operations, management and more. The companies that break records and beat quota over and over understand not only what their customers want today, but can anticipate what their customers will want tomorrow.
"The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary." ~Sam Walton
5-star Customer Service Tip 3: Be Honest, Be Transparent and Have Perspective
How would you want to be treated if you were buying a product from your company? You'd want someone in sales, service, support and every other department to be honest with you and open to helping you. You also want to feel like the person you were dealing with was a part of your team; so why wouldn't you treat a customer that same way? Whenever I speak to a company about their products or services, I always ask them the same question, "If you were me, what would you do?" It doesn't matter what department I am speaking with, I try to get them to see things from my perspective. You should do the same with your customers. Be honest, provide a consultative approach to providing information and allow for the customer's best interest to be your best interest.
5-star Customer Service Tip 4: Be a Part of the Solution
Mistakes are bound to happen. It's what happens next that really counts. Take responsibility and own up to any errors you or your company has made. Don't pass the buck. Work on a solution until your customer is happy. Be open and honest about plans to resolve any problem that arises, stay in touch and communicative with your customer. Once the problem is resolved, follow up and make sure your customer's needs are exceeded before labeling the problem as solved. Under no circumstance should you have a conflict with a customer. Even if you win, you lose.
"Customers don't expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong." ~Donald Porter
5-star Customer Service Tip 5: Be Positive, Present and Poised to Help Your Customer
If you have a positive attitude, your customer will want to be around you and will reward you by giving you business. Even over the phone, a smile can be felt from miles or even countries away. Remain upbeat and focused on what your customer is telling you. Some of the biggest problems I have seen over the years regarding customer service include a lack of caring and lack of listening. It is very challenging to remain positive about a relationship you are building with your customer if you do not listen to them. If your attitude is, "My job would be so much easier if not for my customer," you should think about finding another dream, because the one you have has obviously soured. Be eager to help your customer, even if it doesn't mean cashing in on a sale today. Be patient, the money will come, but first, build the relationship.
Standing out was never about being average, but nothing about 5-star service is average. It's not easy to provide that level of service, but if done right, the rewards are incredible, and can include a lifetime of endless business. When you provide 5-star service, customers will care less about what you charge because they know the products and services you provide will also provide huge value for them. When you provide 5-star service customers will consider you an investment and not just money spent. Businesses carrying the 5-star rating get endless referrals, have raving fans and are in the business for the long run. Looking forward to getting the "white glove" service from you soon.