Good customer service is one of the main building blocks of any successful business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in new customers but unless you can get some of them to come back, your business won’t be around for long. At last Wednesday’s Exchange at the chamber, seasoned networkers shared some of their tips for customer retention that just might help you.
Customer service is all about retaining customers, bringing them back again and again. But it’s also about sending them away happy, happy enough to refer their friends and associates your way. It’s so much less expensive to retain a customer than to go out and prospect for a new one. Repeat customers should be your bread and butter.
If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it’s your customer service skills that determine whether you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else.
Think twice before you make any promises. Nothing drives customers away faster than a broken one. If you can’t deliver that stove on Friday, don’t tell your customer Friday’s the day!
Always remember you have two ears and one mouth. Use both accordingly. Listen to your customers. If they’re talking to you about their problems and needs, listen. Don’t make them repeat what they need, or they will find someone else who can help them. I can assure you it’ll be someone who will listen.
Be willing to give something extra. Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product or a thank-you note for stopping in, people love to get more than they thought they would. And don’t think that the gesture must be large to be effective. A local picture framer attaches a packet of hangers to every picture she frames. A small thing, but it works.
Deal with complaints. When something goes wrong, apologize. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately. As much as we dislike complaints, it does give us an opportunity to improve.
Customers don’t just buy your products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to their problems. Their needs are often more emotional than logical. The more you know about your customers, the better you become at anticipating those needs, and keep them returning to patronize the business of their new best buddy — you!