Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Customer Service Magic

A few days ago, I was in a Mall to buy a camcorder for family use. I had been told that I will get the specification I needed at an affordable price somewhere in this Mall. The Mall had several electronic shops with about the same price for all items. I got into one and started looking around. No one attended to me personally. No one took notice of me. Every of the staff went about their normal business. I asked a few question about a particular brand I love and got mono syllabic answers. Predictably, I didn’t buy anything from them.

I went in to another store close by…infact right beside the 1st one. The difference was astonishing. I was warmly greeted by a staff. He asked me what I wanted to buy and gave me a small lecture on what to look out for. When I was considering buying a particular one (just because of the brand name), he explained to me, and demonstrated to me why he thinks I won’t like it. He suggested another brand that had about the same features, was cheaper and had better handling. He then proceeded to convince me that I was buying the best camcorder of the year in that category. He brought out a magazine that showed the award for this brand and then went ahead to do a demo recording for me with this camcorder! Did I buy it? Of course yes! In no time, I was counting the money at the cashier’s!

What made the difference between both stores? Definitely not the price. Not the size of the store. Not the name. It is called Customer Service. This is what is lacking in most organizations and companies that keep them small…especially in developing countries.

World class organizations have since discovered the value of service to their customers. Improving customer service is one of the top five anguishes for CEO's today. The creation of memorable, positive customer service - service so good, so unique, so different, that it takes the customer by surprise and leaves him with a smile on his face and a story to tell- is in high demand in organizations today.

Let’s consider a few customer service tips that will give you and your company a competitive advantage.

Identify and anticipate needs.

Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.

Make customers feel important and appreciated.

Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance.

Give more than expected.

Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following: What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere? What can you do to follow-up and thank people even when they don't buy? What can you give a customer that is totally unexpected?

Know how to apologize.

When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.

Be a good listener.

Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions - thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants.

Get regular feedback.

Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services.
Listen carefully to what they say. Check back regularly to see how things are going.
Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.

Treat employees well.

Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.

You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it is your customers want. When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible.


Fola' said...

I particularly like the first point on identifying and anticipating needs. It definitely gives your business an edge over competitors.
Good one there again.

most said...

I wish Nigerian entrepreneurs who have products and services to sell will read this. We are simply lagging behind in customer service. Visit one of our numerous fast food joints and you will wonder if their staff knows anything about customer service

Tope, great post. Pls keep up the good work

Laolu Ojed said...

'Exceptional' Customer Service is the key to the sustainability of any organisation. I love the part that customers MUST always win.That's quite true!They might not be right, but they must win. Thankx for that reminder. I hope we all learn to value customers.

You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!