What’s the most valuable asset your business has? It’s your customers. If you don’t take care of them, you won’t be in business very long.
Good Great customer service is becoming expected by most everyone these days, and they are often receiving it, as competition is fierce. Word of mouth is increasingly important, too – witness the rise of websites such an Angie’s List, which rate companies and their level of customer-friendliness. This raises the bar even further.
Customer service is actually an investment in your business, because your existing customer base is your source for repeat business and referrals. The value of repeat business can’t be overemphasized. Costs involved in gaining new customers are 5 to 8 times as much as working with your existing base. So take some time to appreciate and serve the people who are keeping your art or craft business alive.
It’s got to be genuine. You have to really care about them, because your attitude in gladly providing for your customers makes all the difference. Their loyalty to you will change dramatically if they feel ignored. On average, 68% of customers won’t be back if they feel neglected. That leads to scrambling for new business all the time, which is a costly mistake.
Make sure your employees are trained in customer service. They represent you. If you don’t take the time to carefully instruct your workers on how to handle service issues, you could have a problem on your hands. Horror stories can go viral in no time when customer service hits a new low, sometimes going from bad to worse. Part of keeping good employees is helping them to do their jobs well by making sure they know your policies. And recognize them for giving great service.
Have a problem with a customer? Some customers are just difficult. And sometimes they have bad days. Overcome their issues by killing them with kindness. First of all, listen to them and give them your undivided attention. Ask questions, and don’t make assumptions. Make sure you are communicating clearly as well by letting them know how soon you can get back to them with a resolution – and then do what you say you will do.
Get it resolved. If their complaint is justified, bend over backwards to straighten things out, even if it costs you money to do it (just think of how expensive it is to gain a new customer.) Apologize for the situation and the inconvenience that it has caused. Your prompt action in making things right might just turn your upset customer into a raving fan who is happy to give you referrals.
Get proactive. Great customer service isn’t just a reaction to problems, its building relationships that last. Identify what your customer’s needs are and address them promptly. Many times what they really want is to know that they are being heard, and respected. Understanding this will help you diffuse small issues before they blow up into big ones.
Do the unexpected. When you deliver more than is expected, customers will take notice. Sometimes artists will send along a small “extra” in a package as a thank you to a customer. A handwritten thank you card with a delivery, or a coupon for a discount on a future purchase is a great touch to show your buyers just how much you appreciate them. Anticipating their needs and providing that service up front will get you noticed for outrageously good customer service.
Have you ever had a customer service nightmare on your hands? How did you handle it?