You must understand that perception is reality. Each of your clients will have a different perception of your customer service to them and it is based on their needs. Not yours.
To say it plainly, you think you're doing a great job. They think you're slack. This misconception can lead to ill-will on both sides.
Compounding this problem is:
1. We're a nation of small businesses.
2. You need to do more than ever before with less resource.
3. You want to have a life and not work 24 hours a day.
Yet your clients today are more demanding than ever and have access to information that can cut you out of the loop - so your customer service is an important selling point. For example financial services. Travel. Retail.
All can be easily bought online. What is perhaps stopping your client from doing so is time.
Let me give you a relevant personal example. I emailed a travel broker details to book four flights to Europe to capture a good airline deal. We communicated via email that day and then, when I had not heard back four days later, I emailed. The morning of day five at 7am I texted her. Two of the days were over a weekend, but my expectations is that her business would run 7 days a week like any travel shop you go to in a mall. Travel brokers run their businesses from home.
She responded to my text message an hour later that she had several options on hold, and would email details to me soon.
See the problem?
Her customer went from feeling anxious, very anxious, to guilty (for contacting her). On her side, she must feel she is doing a great job because she was able to secure several options.
The solution to this problem and to changing your clients perception of your customer service can easily be rectified with a simple one- two knock out approach.
1. Setting a few simple procedures for communication.
2. Using smart technology shortcuts to do it - no matter where you are or when.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
•Immediately acknowledge and thank all incoming requests (for quotes, for purchases and similar).
•Establish communication occurrences to keep your client informed. Quote with underwriter, working on it today; waiting for a response . Have it to you tomorrow.
In this instance, my travel broker could have removed my anxiety, made me feel very important and feel like she valued my business by simply texting or emailing that she had several options on hold, she caught the good fares and she'll have the quote for me in x working days.
•Always thank afterwards
•Keep communication going with newsletters/updates to get repeat business or referrals.
You do not need to spend one extra penny (if they existed anymore) on implementing these procedures. You can do my favourite - the FREASY - free and easy.
•Keep a to do/follow up list that is available 24 hours. It can be on your phone. On a pad. On Gmail/Google calendars. On your webmail.
•Create standard text and email responses where you can plug in the appropriate information. Save them both as a note on your phone - then copy and paste into an email or text message (for minimal time and typing). Or as a signature or in Outlook (2007/10) Quick Parts. Again requiring only a quick insert and final details.
These two technology shortcuts will save you a phenomenal amount of time. Help turn you and your staff into customer service mavens. Help to turn client anxiety into delight and surely regard you with more referrals.