08/10/10 12:02 Filed in: Guruing around
Customer care is a top priority for any business. Your customers needs should be the of the highest priority. Creating a culture of great customer care is a challenge for any business. Here are some tips to help improve your relationships with this vital group of individuals.
1. Encourage a culture of care
Customers will only receive the level of care they expect if every member of your organisation understands that the needs of the customer should always be the top priority. Encouraging a culture of this kind can be a difficult task.
You should start by explaining to your staff why customer care matters. Every individual in your business should understand that the success of the firm (and, therefore, their own employment prospects) depend on the happiness of your customers.
2. Say what your’e going to do, and do what you said you would do
There is nothing more likely to incur the ire of a customer than a broken promise. Do not be tempted to make commitments that you cannot honour. Expectation management is really at the heart of good customer service; the customer wants to know exactly what they can expect, and then see it happen.
Unless customers are dealt with by a single member of staff, strong communication within your business is important if promises are to be kept.
3. Qualify the customer
Customers, especially business to business customers, are often not as easily impressed by shiny new products as one might think. Instead, they want to buy solutions to their problems and goods or services that fulfil their needs.
You can better care for your customers (and increase your sales) by considering their needs above all else. This might mean changing your offering – or it might be as simple as considering ways that you can make dealing with your business a more pleasant experience for customers.
4. The answer is… 'yes'
It is easy to underestimate the power of positivity. Wherever possible, your default position should be to say ‘yes’. Customers understandably react badly to negativity, but appreciate it when businesses actively try to solve their problems. So, you should make sure that you are as flexible as possible.
Remember, though, the dangers of promising too much. You need to strike a balance between flexibility and realism, and ensure that you only promise what you can deliver.
5. Learn how to apologise
No matter how great your customer service is, sometimes things will go wrong. In these inevitable instances, it is vital that everyone in your business knows how to apologise. From the outset, you should understand that the customer might not always be right – but that doesn’t mean they should not be accommodated. It is generally considered better to swallow your pride and take responsibility than to argue the toss.
Having apologised to a customer who has had a bad experience, you should then make sure that the same mistake does not happen again. Learn from past experience, and consider ways that you can avoid those outcomes in future.
6. Ask for, and listen to, feedback
No-one has as good a view of your customer care as your customers themselves – so you should make sure that you are listening to them. Consider ways that you can encourage feedback from customers. This could be as simple as asking for an opinion at the point of sale. You might also choose to leave comment cards on your premises, or follow up orders with an email asking how the customer thinks the transaction went.
Again, make sure that this feedback is followed up. There is little point in collecting the information unless you intend to act on it, so set aside a regular time in which you can go over the comments you receive and work out how you will incorporate them into your planning.
Your relationship with your customers is at the heart of your business; you ignore them at your peril. Think about ways that you can develop a good relationship with your customers and you will reap the rewards.