Nobody pays good money for bad service

Bad customer service can be found everywhere these days, unmanned front desks, rude servers, clueless staff, customers wait impatiently as they watch employees fixated on hand-held devices or computer screens and managers who refuse to acknowledge that any problems exist.

What used to be an exception has now become the rule. Bad customer service always translates into lower sales and lost business. Do you have raving fans or dissatisfied customers? Do you even know?

My next statement is hardly breaking news, but it’s worth mentioning over and over. One of the single most important aspects of a successful business is good customer service. Whether you are an attorney, dog groomer or banker or in a service business; serving your customers is the only way to stay in business.

A serious business owner is customer focused and committed to helping them experience the best possible interaction from all contacts within the company. There is no valid excuse for bad customer service.

No business deliberately sets out with the goal of providing bad customer service and frustrating customers, but that is what customers experience day in, day out. Often this is because the business owners don’t see the customer service from the customer’s point of view.

When I coach sales people on the customer service side of the sales process, here’s what I stress.

If you can’t be nice, get out. If you don’t love what you do, get the heck out of a business where you deal with people. If you love what you do, it will be evident and your customers will know it. Business owners who have a bad attitude will reflect their attitude onto everyone around them, including customers. Like most everything in life, good customer service always comes back to attitude. If you believe your customers are annoying, guess what – you’re right. If you believe your customers are fantastic, guess what – you’re right.

Be reliable, responsive and credible. Businesses such as Nordstroms, Ritz Carlton and Disneyland have all gained reputations for impeccable customer service, where employees are always nearby to cater to customers’ needs. These businesses gained this reputation with years of training their employees to put the customer first. Always!

This is all done without a bad attitude, eye rolling and dirty looks. It is customer service with a smile.

Establish a positive connection. Customers will do business with people they like. Rapport can be established by simple gestures such as calling a customer by their name, recognizing mutual interests, asking questions, being genuine and making eye contact. The customer instantly recognizes the employee as someone who cares about their well-being, and is more likely to do business with the company.

Again, these tips are not breaking news, just common sense rules for business that seem to be forgotten. It will always come down to treating people like they want to be treated. Act like you are the only personal contact that the customer has with the business, and behave as if the entire reputation of the business depends on you.

Delivering excellent customer service begins inside, with the core values of your company. Everyone in your company, from the president to the janitor, all share the responsibility of making your customers raving fans. The key is to infuse everyone in the company with a customer-focused outlook.

This is not an easy transformation to make, but the potential payoff is huge. Methods could vary to achieve this goal. The Four Seasons and Nordstroms, where incredible customer service is alive and well, are examples that should be understood, taught and consistently practiced. Remember, it’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell.

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Categories: Sales & Marketing