As a business coach, I’m regularly talking to clients (and prospects) about their customer service. Most people say they are great and really look after their customers. I also know from decades of experience that if you surveyed a business’ customers you might not always get that same confidence in service.
So here are some examples of things which represent good (and some even great) or awesome customer service in my view:
It doesn’t matter whether it’s an initial call, or an email from a customer who has been with you for 15 years – your response time should be prompt. With technology these days, the options are endless to help you be proactive and prompt in your response time. I know on my phone, if someone rings and I can’t pick up, I have a choice of a few different text messages I can send them. It’s so much nicer to get a text saying “Sorry, just can’t pick up but I’ll call you back in about an hour” than the usual “leave me a message” spiel.
Ship the item immediately
When you have sourced a great supply courier company and can ship overnight, that really impresses people. Under-promising and over-delivering is always appealing. I know one business recently (Snowy’s Camping) I purchased in the afternoon and the item was on my doorstep the very next morning. I was very pleasantly surprised, especially because one of the items was supposed to be unavailable for several more days.
Respond to complaints at the speed of light
Ok, you’re seeing a pattern here – right? In today’s world, the average customer is expecting things to happen super quickly. If you do get a complaint – action that super quickly. You may not be able to solve the problem straight away, but you can talk to the person, ascertain their issue and investigate. The trick here is to be prompt and to inform them of what happened. Getting back and letting them know what happened and how you will fix it is really important. Instead these days, we are left either with no phone number to call or wait periods which leave us old and grey.
Easy refund or replacement
I had purchased an item from Apple not long ago. It arrived not working and when I rang, they just said they’ll send me another, terribly sorry and no need to ship back the other. I wasn’t challenged or made to feel uncomfortable – exactly the opposite. Some companies have a ‘no questions asked’ policy and if you say it didn’t arrive, they accept that and replace immediately. Now, for small businesses, this can represent a challenge as some people just complain to get free stuff or get out of paying … so find a good balance that looks after your customers without sending you bankrupt.
Sending something unexpected
This can be anything from a tennis ball with dog food, to a hand-written thank you note for being a repeat customer. These things don’t need to be big, but try being a little unique, thoughtful and saying thank you to your customers will never ever go astray. When did you last send a text or note to a customer thanking them for being a prompt payer?
Anticipate your customer’s needs
I remember years ago in my consulting business where we lodged BASes. We always included the BSB and bank account number of the ATO, along with the client’s amount to pay and reference number. In other words, we made it easy for them. At other times, we would send out information sheets on how to do things or how to print a report. In fact, I still do this. Sure, it takes that little bit of extra time, but only the first time. Then every time you send it out, it’s just a matter of a minute or two in sending it with the email.
Training video on how to use the item
Do you supply an item which sometimes is difficult to use? Do you regularly have customers ring you up and ask how something works? Instead, create a training video which you pop-up on your website or YouTube channel and just send the link to any new customers who purchase. They may not need it, but if they do, they sure will appreciate you took the time to help them out. I saw one person complain on a review site and yes, the person helped them out really well then (very well) but isn’t it better to anticipate the need and pre-empt that complaint or request?
Be always helpful!
When is the last time you can remember a hotel sending you back something forgotten or left behind? It just doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, aren’t we very impressed and very appreciative! Don’t we also go around telling all our friends how great the hotel was BUT even better, they sent back one of my earrings I lost under the bed.
Making up for any slips
I was recently dining out with friends. The meal one of my friends ordered came out not matching the description at all. She queried the plate put in front of her and was responded to “Oh we ran out of that – this is your meal”. Instead, wouldn’t it have been nice that the waitress (upon learning they were out of that item) would go to the table and let her know, giving her the choice to adjust the order AND then saying “Sorry about that – your drink is on us” SMILE. Not only didn’t they do that, but when another guest asked for both cream and ice-cream on his $15 desert, he was advised it’s one or the other. How much would a dollop of cream have cost that business? Another example is one particular airline will email their customers if they have had to cancel a flight. They apologise and load up a good number of bonus/frequent flyer points for that customer.
Random acts of kindness
One great example is in America when a granddaughter asked to have some food delivered to her granddad who was 89 years old, house-bound and in blizzard-like conditions. Trader Joe’s doesn’t normally deliver but did so on that special occasion, at no charge. These things you cannot plan for, but clearly someone in there thought to do something out of the norm to help someone out.
In many ways, awesome customer service isn’t just about being nice or helpful, it’s going above and beyond.
It might be about taking ownership for a mistake (maybe you personally didn’t even make), or perhaps it’s about finding a solution to a problem. It definitely is about team training. In the above example about Trader Joe’s, whoever picked up the phone knew if they asked the boss if this could happen, they would likely get a favourable response, not “you know we DON’T deliver!” All staff should be pleasant, should smile, be helpful, thank customers for their business. That is expected customer service – not exceptional. If we make a mistake, we apologise and fix it. Possibly we can’t help a client, but we sure can try to find someone who can.
Finally, if you do offer exceptional customer service, then do what Snowy’s did with my package. They had a sticker on the outside asking for a review if I was happy with their service. I did take the time to do this because they stood out with service. Whether it’s sending an email, text or sticking a request on the parcel – there are a string of ways you can ask for happy customer reviews.
Check out my services where I can help you with your customer service style.
Read Business Anger is Deadly.