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Do you remember the last time you had an unpleasant experience with a service or product? Of course, you do. As paying customers, we’re looking to get value for our money. Yet we may find that at times the service or product fails to live up to the sales pitch. Perhaps the company does not answer emails or phone calls, the staff is clueless and disinterested, or you are given the run around when you called to report a problem.

It does not matter how low your prices are, if the customer service is poor you will still lose out on repeat business. When you have outstanding customer service; happy customers are more than willing to pay for quality and a pleasant experience! Excellent customer service is what will set your businesses apart and improve your sales figures.

Here is how to improve customer service for your hustle.

Get your staff trained

It is important to ensure that your staff members are trained in how to interact with customers and how to solve problems in a professional manner. You may want to train your employees on the following;

  • Greeting and interacting with customers
  • Answering the phone
  • Staying calm in a crisis
  • Managing emotions in a difficult situation
  • Solving problems in a professional manner.

Capitalise in effective and reliable training tools and on-going refresher courses. When staff members are properly trained, they feel empowered and motivated to serve to the best of their ability.

Create a welcoming environment

Companies who create a personalised service not only attract new customers but are able to retain their customer base.

Invest in friendly, patient and courteous staff. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter such as offering a cold glass of water on a hot day, comfortable seating in the waiting area or a children’s area with toys for example can go a long way towards winning them over.

In order to make lasting connections with customers, it is very important that the staff exude an authentic personable feel as opposed to animated robotic performances which may come out as fake or acting and put off the customer.

Know your products/services

It is important that the staff know your products and services in and out, how they work and how they benefit the customer. Be aware of the most common questions customers ask, and know how to articulate the answers that will leave them satisfied.

Keep your points clear, simple and leave nothing to doubt. This way you will also be in a position to assist them when they run into problems. Persuasion skills are also valuable in excellent customer service. This is the ability to convince interested customers that your products are right for them.

It is also important to honour your commitments, do what you say you will do, for example if you offer a guarantee then you must honour it. A sure-fire way to ruin your relationship with a client is to go back on your word.

Polish your internal organisational systems

Set clear goals and expectations so there are no misunderstandings, regularly communicate with your staff and find out what challenges they experience. Rectify problems and maximise on your strengths.

Have a clearly defined and uniform company culture. An organisation that is disjointed and at loggerheads with itself will soon show its cracks to the outsider and can never succeed. All involved must pull together to one direction. It is crucial to have a well-defined organisational structure for communication and decision-making purposes.

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Know your customers

Know your target market very well; what they look for in a product and what their buying habits are. This will put you in a great position to not only match their needs but exceed their expectations! Build trust by focusing on customer relationships and not sales.

Think long term when dealing with customers. By keeping customers happy, they will be loyal and through word of mouth, will do the marketing for you. It is also very important to be able to read your customers, whether face to face, via email or over the phone.

Apart from what the customer is saying out loud, some basic understanding of behavioural psychology helps you to look and listen for subtle clues about their non-verbal communication, what they are not saying, their current mood, patience level, personality etc. This will go far in keeping your customer interactions positive and fruitful.

Get customer feedback and solve problems

Remember the customer is always right. Invest in easy and swift communication channels such as a suggestion box, customer surveys and feedback forms. Besides asking them directly, you can do this by putting a suggestion box, customer surveys, feedback forms where customers can report back about your service and offer suggestions.

Offer many different ways for your customers to contact you: like phone, email, and your business’s social media pages. Also ensure management is easily accessible and reachable to resolve any matters when the need arise. Use the feedback to create a better experience and improved service.

Use social media wisely

Capitalise in well run platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where you can post about your current specials, discounts and new products around the clock. As much as social media can build your brand, posting recklessly can easily tarnish your image. Engage with customers responsibly, with great diplomacy and prudence.

In the event of any complaint whether received publicly or privately, acknowledge the problem, apologize, even if you think you’re right, accept responsibility, adjust the situation with a negotiation to fix the problem and assure the customer that you will follow through. Your customers will appreciate this!

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Look after your staff

Treat employees as you would treat your customers. Employees take on more responsibility when they know they are appreciated and are an important part of the team. Unhappy employees will project their negative energy to the customers thus creating unpleasant experiences.

There are many ways to look after your staff besides generous pay and benefits, business owners can show an interest in the employees’ welfare, families and their future, throw them office parties or give various incentives.

It is also important to offer public recognition to employees who have done well for example, have an “employee of the year” award ceremony. This will go a long way in boosting Staff morale and a happy pleasant environment for customers means more business to you!

Show appreciation to your customers

Always say thank you after each transaction, this will make the customer feel noticed, respected and valued. This is one great way of building customer loyalty.

You may write personalized thank you notes or make a follow-up phone call a month or so later to find out how they are doing, some companies will even send out birthday or holiday cards.

Recognise your most frequent customers!

Give your best Customers the VIP experience, keep track of their preferences and let them know when new merchandise arrives that they are likely to be interested in.

You might also organize appreciation days just for those clients, or invite them to private pre-sales in advance of the public. Far from alienating new customers (who will still be treated with courtesy and respect), these programs demonstrate that loyalty has its rewards.

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