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Chamber News & Views July 12, 2018

Published on: July 10, 2018

Customer loyalty

By LYNNE CONLAN

Executive Director, Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce

Customers are brand loyal. They’re most likely to return to a business they know and with whom they’ve had a positive experience. So good customer service is directly linked to customer retention. And as we all know, it’s much less expensive to keep a current customer than to go out and find a replacement for that customer’s business.   You and everyone working at your place of business need to be focused on creating that customer loyalty.  People can buy a widget at any number of  widget stores.  Make sure they get their widgets from you.

It’s no different here at the chamber.  Customers — or, as we call them, members — can make or break us.  So, let’s look as some keys to improving our customer service skills.

There are different types of customers: The impossible to please, those who want you to explain everything to death, and those who are just chatty and want to talk your ear off but not necessarily buy your product or service.  You must be able to sense what type of customer you are dealing with and adapt accordingly, no matter how your day is going. 

Make sure you communicate very clearly.  If you’re offering a 10 percent discount, but your customer hears 20 percent, it will not end well at checkout. 

Knowledge of your product is key.  However, if you get stumped by a customer’s question, please don’t make up an answer.  It’s okay to say “I don’t know” as long as it’s followed up with “but I’ll find out and get back to you.”  But then don’t forget that follow-up.

Remember the customer is always right, right? They are, even when they are not.  Sometimes you just gotta suck it up.  I find if I’m at fault, I have no problem standing on the carpet and taking the blame.  It becomes more difficult when you really aren’t at fault. Bottom line is, just make sure the customer is the one who determines what “right” is.

And you must learn how to use positive language. What you say is less important than how you say it.  Let’s say your customer wants a widget but that widget is back-ordered for the next month.  You can tell that customer that you can’t get him that widget until next month because you are totally out of it and it’s back-ordered until next month.  Or you put that positive spin on it.  That would sound something like: “That widget will be available next month.  I‘ll place the order for you right now, and make sure you get it as soon as it arrives.”  Both messages are the same.  But which one will make your customer the happiest?  

A little empathy doesn’t hurt.  Even when you can’t tell a customer exactly what they want to hear, a little dose of care, concern and understanding go a long way. 

But don’t let a customer make you lose your cool.  It’s your job to be the voice of reason for a customer who thinks the world is falling down due to their current problem either with or without your widget. Just keep on smiling!

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