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7 Ways to Show Your Customers Some Love
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7 Ways to Show Your Customers Some Love
<p> </p><p>Great customer service is a small business’s best marketing tool. If you want your customers to be loyal to your business, show them some love by providing outstanding customer service.</p><p>Just how important is customer service to a business’s success? In a survey last year by <a href="http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2011/csbar.aspx">American Express</a>, 70 percent of consumers said they would be willing to pay higher prices if a company offered great customer service. And 81 percent believed that generally, small businesses provide better customer service than big businesses do.</p><p>To make sure your business is truly providing outstanding service, here are seven moves you need to make:</p><p><strong>Be friendly:</strong> The way your employees interact with customers is crucial to how people feel about your service. In the American Express survey, “friendly employees” were cited by 65 percent of respondents as a major factor in making them feel positive towards a company and more likely to recommend it to others. You can’t train people to be friendly, so hiring front-line employees who are naturally warm and engaging is the best strategy here.</p><p><strong>Be genuine:</strong> Do your and your employees’ actions align with your marketing message? Customers know when you’re faking it. If you promote your business as offering a personal touch, but customers who walk in the door aren’t greeted or, worse, are treated poorly by indifferent salespeople, that disconnect will drive customers away. Worse, it’s likely to leave a bad taste in their mouths, and they’ll spread the word about your business to other potential customers. In today’s social-media-driven world, it’s more important than ever that your customer service truly reflect your business’s mission.</p><p><strong>Solve problems:</strong> Sixty-six percent of respondents in the American Express study said solving their problems was a hallmark of good customer service. Being friendly is great, but even more than that, customers want you to truly help them. To ensure your team can do this, you must empower your workers to make decisions on their own. There’s nothing customers hate more than hearing, “I’m sorry, that’s not our policy” or a similar excuse. Try giving employees free reign up to a certain dollar amount to do whatever it takes to satisfy a customer. You can also brainstorm with employees to figure out how they might deal with difficult situations that are likely to occur.</p><p><strong>Defuse tension:</strong> No matter how well you run your business, mistakes happen, and customers will are going to get upset. When this occurs, it’s important that your employees not fuel the fire by getting defensive, making accusations or losing their tempers. Role-play with your employees to figure out ways they might handle difficult customers and keep unpleasant situations from escalating. </p><p><strong>Keep it simple: </strong>Whether they are shopping in your store or on your website, customers today are pressed for time. Simplify the steps needed to purchase from you, and you’re more likely to get their business. Streamlining your website’s shopping cart, offering online ordering and in-store pickup (look into signing up with <a href="http://local.ebay.com/">eBay Local</a>), and accepting a wide variety of payments are all ways to help customers get what they need quickly and easily.</p><p><strong>Be responsive:</strong> Customers today won’t stand for companies that ignore their voice mails, emails or posts on social media. Respond to every communication from a customer, in whatever format it comes to you, as quickly as you can. If consumers can’t get a response from you, they’re more likely to contact your competitor, so time is of the essence.</p><p><strong>Be thoughtful:</strong> Customer service doesn’t stop when the customer leaves your business. Follow up after the sale with a thank-you card, email or call. This not only gives you a chance to find out if there are any problems with the product or service, but also an opportunity to (gently) suggest other products or services that the customer might want. Sending a special offer coupon or discount for the next purchase is a nice follow-up move that also encourages customers to return to your business.</p><p>In the end, the best way to improve your customer service is to think about the companies <em>you</em> enjoy doing business with. What do they do well? How do they make your life easier? What strategies of theirs can you adapt to your business? Treat your customers as you’d like to be treated, and you’ll soon be feeling lots of love.</p>
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