How to Provide Outrageously Good Customer Service

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?

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Comments

  1. Diane Townsley says:

    Great article! I do believe it’s the businesses that go the extra mile who will get ahead in this economic climate. I was just reading a discussion about customer service on Etsy recently, though the person asking questions was a vintage seller who got a convo from a customer with no less than 40 questions about about an item that had already been well photographed and described. I wonder how that turned out, and whether there was a sale at the end of it . ;) More than a few people advised her to run the other way. It’s possible that’s a scenario that would never pay off for her, but you never know.

    Lately I’m getting more requests for custom work than anything, and it always takes far longer than I think it will, between back and forth conversations, questions and design work, and then making something that’s often outside of my usual way of doing things which takes longer. I find myself maybe breaking even on those sales – I probably need to develop a more realistic and flexible policy about how I handle that type of order, but I’ve gained some repeat customers that way who appreciated the attention, and it’s forced me to think outside the box, solve problems and come up with some new ideas and processes, in which case I haven’t lost anything, and in fact gained valuable experience.

    It’s true, people just want to feel heard and that you care about them, it’s human nature. Those are the kinds of interactions I want to have with all the people I meet everyday, anyway, so good customer service fits right in with me learning to be a better, more connected, more compassionate person. It’s not really just about business.

    • Diane,

      You said “It’s true, people just want to feel heard and that you care about them, it’s human nature.” That pretty much sums up the whole article, and is a great takeaway. And that is true more today than ever. The new generation of buyers coming into the marketplace really expect personalized, and excellent service. Your experience with custom orders now and how you choose to handle it will bode well for you as you grow your business.

      • Your customers should be treated the same way you would like to be treated as a customer.
        I answer all questions honestly, no matter how many or how difficult.
        If someone hesitates on the price, I tell them not to feel obligated and to take his/her time. and let them know if there is less expensive way to go, such as single-ply instead of double-ply hand spun yarn. And I always include extra.
        I show them that their satisfaction is my utmost concern, because it is.
        Laura

        • Laura, your customer service techniques sound excellent – I like that you offer single-ply as a less expensive option rather than lowering your prices. Including extra product is also a great way to offer value, and let your customer know how much you appreciate their business!

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