Posted: 11th May 2015
How can we get our customers to buy more? Well, says Carolyn Storey, it’s all about building happy, long term customer relationships and developing a good reputation based on service. Here are her five golden rules for delivering good customer service…
1. Show respect
Never forget that the person on the other end of the phone, or author of a letter of complaint, is a human being with pressures and challenges just like you. Focus on delivering a solution, not the customer’s personality or people’s emotions.
2. Be calm
Remain calm at all times, especially if you don’t agree with a complaint. Upset people need to be understood. The tone of your letter or voice will help to diffuse a situation. If they are spitting feathers try not to sound patronising or to give a flat response – avoid pouring petrol on the fire! Be assertive and in control!
3. Always acknowledge
Acknowledge their problem. I don’t mean take the blame but understand them without necessarily agreeing. Demonstrate empathy, for example, by saying ‘I’m sorry you’ve had a problem;” or “Yes, I agree, you have been treated badly.” This will go along way towards soothing a customer’s anger and disappointment even if you are unable to provide a response that fully meets their expectations.
4. Get the facts
Even if the customer has written in, try and contact them by phone. Why? Because you need to gather in all the facts. People in business need to know why things went wrong, to stop it happening again. Ask the right questions – especially ones that will make the customer think. This helps to keep emotion under control. Listen to their responses – show you are listening. Summarise, clarify, and reflect on what they have said before taking action
5. Take responsibility
Just because you might be the boss doesn’t mean that you pass the problem onto someone else to deal with! I’ve seen this done so many times and it always ends up taking up more time, leading the customer to the depths of despair. Simply do what you say you will do, in the agreed time span and keep in contact with the customer. It’s just a phone call, but it can make all the difference.
Businesses continue to be built on good old fashioned customer care and guess what – if you have it, you’ll have yourself a USP, because so few other companies are doing it!
WiRE member Carolyn Storey worked for Marks and Spencer for over 20 years before launching her own business development consultancy. She has teamed up with fellow WiRE member Nicky Adams and two other partners to create The BusinessImprovementAcademy(bia), offering development workshops, services and business coaching.