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Do you know what your customers think about your business? What is their view of the service they receive? Are you listening to your customers? Are you putting your customers first? Have you looked at your business from your customers' perspective? It is very easy to get caught up in the day to day of running your business and not put your customers first. However if you do this you are likely to find that your business starts to struggle and your customers go elsewhere. So what can you do to improve the service you provide?
Understand your customers' requirements of your business. Your customers won't necessarily tell you their requirements; you will need to ask them. You may do this via a questionnaire, focus groups or speaking to them individually.
Be a customer of your competitors. Try out the service of your competitors and understand whether you need to improve the service of your business as a result.
Ask your customers what they think of your service. How often do you ask your customers for feedback on your service? You can do this in many ways e.g. a short survey, a phone call or even a chat after they have made a purchase.
Exceed expectations. When our expectations are exceeded we are very happy. How can you engender this feeling with your customers? What is the difference about your service that will make the difference to them?
Look after your customers. How do you want to be treated when you are buying something? Look after your customers in the way you want to be looked after. Set customer service standards so your customers are always well looked after by your business.
Always do as you say you are going to do. One of the most annoying things for any customer is when something is promised and then it doesn't happen e.g. you promise to call the customer before 2pm and you forget. Always do what you say you are going to do.
Communicate regularly. Keep in touch with your customers throughout the buying process and afterwards. Encourage your customers to repeat purchase. A happy customer will want to buy from you again. Send them information on new products and services and ask their opinion.
Make them feel special. Make your customers feel special by treating them as individuals. Even if you are dealing with large companies make the person who is buying from you feel important. Personalise your relationship with your customers.
Listen to your customers. How often do you really listen to what your customers are saying to you? It is key to listen to not just what they are saying but also to understand the underlying meaning of what they are saying. What are they really saying about your business?
Make the customer experience as simple and straightforward as possible. It is very frustrating when what should be a simple process is made unnecessarily complicated. Put yourself in your customers' shoes and understand what they are experiencing. What can you simplify?
Don't get defensive or make excuses. If a customer isn't happy or raises an issue with you, stay calm and don't get defensive or make excuses. You may think they are incorrect but apologise, investigate what they are saying and provide a resolution for them.
Resolve complaints quickly, efficiently and effectively. If you receive a complaint about a product or service, resolve it quickly, efficiently and effectively and to the customer's satisfaction. An unhappy customer is very bad for your business as they will tell everyone else about their experience.
Look for underlying issues, problems and trends. Always look wider than individual complaints and issues. Not every customer will provide feedback; some will just not use your business again. Look for the underlying reason and look for trends. If you solve the underlying issues your overall customer service will improve.
Say 'thank you'. We all liked to be thanked, so thank your customers for their business.
What will you now be doing differently with your customers as a result of reading this article?
Author: Liz Makin
Published: October 2011
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
Please call Liz on 01780 765270 or email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk
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