We get a lot of advice about how to deliver great customer service. Many of the tips are reminders of what we already know (but we occasionally forget). And these are useful. But sometimes, we need more than a reminder. Sometimes it's helpful to have a system or, at least, some steps to follow.
Here is an easy yet valuable road-map I've taught in many of my customer service seminars. It's easy to understand but it can be effective in keeping us on track so we consistently deliver what our customers want from us.
1. Connect with your customer
This is critical. This is where you establish rapport and begin a relationship with your customer. Connecting means you're building trust that runs both ways. Do this by engaging your customer. Start by giving them your name and asking theirs. Be interested in them and what they want. Ask questions. Listen. Respond appropriately. Have a conversation with them. Be genuine.
People know when you are genuinely interested in helping them or not. If you are, they are more likely to respond positively to you and to develop trust with you. If you are really not interested, they'll sense it and you'll have a much harder time developing the trust you need to help them.
2. Discover what they want
If you have a genuine conversation with your customer, you will discover what they want. They don't always know what they want. Or they might have trouble expressing it. Often people know what they want but they're unsure how to get it. That's where you come in.
By asking pertinent questions and paying attention to the answers, you can discover a lot about your customer. You can help guide them to getting what they want. That's the role you fill and that's how you keep customers coming back.
3. Know what you can do
We can't always give the customer everything they want. Sometimes they want what we can't do. Other times, it's something we choose not to do.
Every business has a niche to fill. That means doing what the business is best at doing for the customers it can serve best. This step is about "picking your battles". It's about choosing the customers who best fit what you can do well by knowing what you do best.
4. Do it
This sounds easy and maybe it should be. But it's where many businesses fail. They fail because they don't manage the process of planning, doing, measuring and monitoring well.
To execute well you need to be able to measure what's important. What gets measured gets done. So, convert your customer's wants into actions you can measure. Then setup a system to measure the outcomes and the actions that produce them.
For customers, this is icing on their cake. It's true for you too because it's easy to do yet it pays huge dividends in customer loyalty.
As you plan your execution phase, make sure you plan a follow-up contact. Follow-up by phone, email, letter, visit, whatever works. The more direct and personal the better but make it work for your customer and your company. This thrills customers because very few companies do it consistently.
6. Thank them
This often gets forgotten. Or it gets treated lightly. Too often when I hear a "thanks for doing business with us" it sounds phony, forced or robotic. People often say it out of habit but they put no feeling or authenticity into it.
So, when you thank your customers, be real about it. Make it genuine. Thank them in multiple ways, not just once. Make sure they know you are grateful for their business.
Follow these six steps with every customer and you'll find your level of customer service will increase dramatically. Coach your employees to understand and work through these steps (every time) and you'll see your customer loyalty and customer retention go through the roof.
Kevin Stirtz is an customer loyalty expert. He helps organizations grow by improving how they serve their customers. Kevin has spoken to groups all over the USA about how to keep their customers coming back again and again. He is currently writing his second book, about how to improve customer loyalty. Get a free copy of his first book, "Marketing for Smart People" at www.stirtzgroup.com
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