Atwill Media
Atwill Media
Making Customer Service Priority One

Customer Service - The Key To Business Success

As a business owner, what does customer service mean to you? Do you picture a literal definition, a memory of a good or bad experience with another business or an evaluation of how your company provides customer service?

Every interaction between your business and the public is a form of customer service. Every single one - even simply answering the phone to a wrong number can determine the success of your business.

Take a peek at social media. Here customers can loudly voice how their experience with a company has gone wrong or right, and it shows businesses can no longer afford to ignore customer service.

Why and How Your Customer Service Is Failing

As a business owner, your company's policies on customer service can make or break you. So why and how are you failing?

WHY - Attitude - you don't think it is important.

HOW - Training - you haven't prepared your employees.

Making Customer Service Your #1 Priority

As a business owner, you should stress to your employees that customer service is No. 1 REGARDLESS of how BUSY you are, or how the customer is behaving. One way to ensure customer service is to make sure you have a written policy. This policy can be as simple as one or two paragraphs, or a very detailed customer service plan of action.

7 Common Sense Customer Service Principles

Consider incorporating these key points in your customer service plan. None of these principles are especially hard to grasp, but oddly they are often the most forgotten.

  1. Greet every customer. No one likes to be ignored. A simple “Hi, may I help you?" goes a long way. If you are busy with another customer, acknowledge their presence with a “Hi, I'll be with you as soon as possible." Even a smile is an acknowledgement.
  2. Don't just point a customer in a direction. This is a personal pet peeve of mine. Unless you are with another customer, you should walk customers to the items they inquire about. If you or your employee is with another customer you, can say, “you'll find it in aisle 9, I'll be over to assist you a few minutes."
  3. Stand Up and Greet Your Customer. Stand up if you are seated or leaning to greet your customer. Again, you're showing them that you appreciate their business.
  4. Avoid Conveying That A Customer Is Bothering You. Often I find the owner/employee is “busy" texting or on the Internet “playing," and can't be bothered by me, the customer. Anyone who walks in our door, or calls you on the phone, should never ever have the feeling that he/she is bothering you.
  5. Don't assume your customer doesn't know the products as well as you. As a prior owner of a retail shop I knew every detail, use and benefit my products had to offer. However, I never assumed that I was the only one who did. Many customers research your product long before they visit your store. Keep this in mind when you discuss your products with them and remember your favorite product may not be what they want. Customer service is about the customer, not about the products you or your employees like. Your objective is to sell products and satisfy the customer. Happy customers are return customers.
  6. Let the customer speak. We all love to talk about our products and services, but it is important that we also listen to what our customers want or need. Often our attention is divided between helping our customers and performing the daily function of running a business. If a customer is talking about the products you sell, you must give them your attention. If they are speaking about their grandkids or their dogs, or any other topic, give them a few minutes of your time. Then push for the sale in a polite way. If they aren't ready to buy, then your next move is to excuse yourself by saying, "I've enjoyed hearing about your dog Buddy, I wish I had more time but please excuse me I need to speak to that customer about his order."
  7. Smile and keep your emotions in check. Customers don't care if you or your employees are having a bad day. They also don't want to know about the hard customer you just dealt with. Always present your customers with the attitude that you want to help them, you want to be at work, and you enjoy the job.

In today's competitive market, customers have many avenues in which to spend their money. What can make you and your products stand out is how you handle your customer service. Customers who feel appreciated, and valued, will in turn appreciate and value your business.

Contributor Leigh Morrisett

Contributor: Leigh Morrisett

Contributor Leigh Morrisett spent several years in retail as the owner and customer service manager for the Outdoor Connection (a retail hunting supply store). She is now the owner and purchasing manager of J & W Distributors, an industrial supply company.

Leigh brings industry knowledge and know-how to Atwill Media's blog, providing tips and tricks from first hand experiences she's had as a small business manager.

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