Communication: The key to great customer service
Chic-Fil-A is a great example of fantastic customer service. Their product is a success and paralleled with a great experience they are becoming one of the biggest fast-food retailers in the USA. People want a good experience and if they do not get it, they will let your industry know. Additionally, with the internet, online reviews can quickly make you look uninviting and make your competitors look attractive.
We all have examples of shocking customer service and we let all our friends and family know about the poor experience we had. It is time for your business to invest in great customer service, so that you can grow for the long term.
Find the right employee
As an owner, when interviewing for the job, make sure that a big part of the interview is focused on their personality, their hobbies and their interests. If the interviewee has interests that are fun, interesting, and has a passion for something other then making money or their past work experience then you are on the right track.
Can he/she listen
When asking questions in the interview does the person focus on you and your questions? Does he/she cut you off or talk about all their achievements? Does the person have a genuine interest in what you are saying? Does the candidate understand your business values and can he/she give examples of things they have done in the past that include those values?
I have been to hotels and been greeted by employees at the front desk with a smile, but little to no eye contact. Recently, I had an issue with getting into my hotel room, I went downstairs to talk to the front desk and she spoke to me as if this issue was my issue, and would not look me in the eye. It was a shocking experience, that could have been a great experience. It was a common problem that hotels have. The employee could have acknowledged the issue, apologized, looked me in the eye and said
‘an assistant will be up shortly to fix the problem. While you wait, take a seat at our hotel bar and have a drink on us.’
That simple. It completely changes the experience.
Don’t take the customer on the problem journey
If a customer asks for a product that is currently out of stock or unavailable, do not explain all this to the customer. Simply, let them know that the product has been sold out and provide a solution immediately. This could be:
Once in, we will send it to you, with free shipping
Once in, we will call you and let you know it’s back in stock
Unfortunately we are out of this product and not restocking it. I can show you similar products or you can see if our friends at [insert competitor] sell it.
Communicating positively and not pushing unwanted products to your customer is key to great customer service. It means you are putting the customer first and not the sale.
Depending on your business wait times can make or break customer experience. Some businesses believe that they cannot do anything about poor wait time reviews. This is not true. Look at Disneyland. They have rides with wait times over an hour and people still LOVE Disney. What can we learn here...
Optimize the whole experience for your customer.
If it is a quote they are waiting on to remodel their bathroom in Norfolk, VA let them know how long it will take to receive the quote. If the quote takes more then 2 days make sure you interact with them and provide them updates on the quote. Keep them communicating and in the loop so that your business is still top of mind and not another competitor's quote.
The DMV is the most frustrating place in all of America. It has a very slow line, average customer service and simply a painful place to have to go. I recently had to visit the DMV for a license update and the nicest person in there was the security guard. These long lines do not help their service but make it worst. I wonder if they have considered implementing a positive, happy and inviting person to welcome people into the DMV and direct them to where they need to go. Take an employee out of the dry cubical and into the space where the customers are. Provide them assistance, ask questions, let them know about the coffee machine in the corner and just genuinely be of assistance. Adding a concierge service to your business with a long wait time/line minimizes the stress and anxiety people feel when visiting places like the DMV.
Every time I go to my pediatrician's office, I fill in the same forms. I think I have written my home address 30 times for them. This simply adds to the poor experience and makes you not want to be there. Get digital. If there is a form that must be filled out, hand the patient or customer an iPad to complete the form and hand back. This form goes straight into the system and doesn't need to be filled out again. Alternatively, send them the form via email and have it completed before coming in for the appointment.
As a small business review your customer service and see what small changes you can implement that will really make a big impact on the experience you are providing.