Five factors for great customer service

Offering low prices isn't the only way to bring in the patrons, says MYOB executive director Scott Gardiner

Deliver a personal, high-quality shopping experience and you will gain repeat custom, and enjoy positive personal endorsements that will attract a larger customer base. Photo / Thinkstock
Deliver a personal, high-quality shopping experience and you will gain repeat custom, and enjoy positive personal endorsements that will attract a larger customer base. Photo / Thinkstock

With more and more businesses starting up every year, getting your customer service proposition right has become increasingly crucial. Think about how you will make the most of this opportunity in 2014.

While small businesses are often unable to compete with larger organisations on price, they can gain an edge in customer service that will boost customer acquisition and retention. These are two areas our research has shown to be the top focus for SMEs over the next year.

Deliver a personal, high quality shopping experience - online and/or offline - and you will not only gain repeat custom, you will enjoy positive personal endorsements that will attract a larger customer base.

Communication - Communication is essential, whether it is face-to-face, over the phone, or via email. Personal one-to-one contact lets your customers know how valued they are. Every customer deserves a response, so create a follow-up protocol to ensure enquiries are dealt with in a timely manner.

Train your staff so they are highly knowledgeable on your offering and current promotions, and pay attention to social media because it is a great way to maintain communication with your customers and their networks.

Consistency - Consistency is key - customers like to be confident in the knowledge that they will receive a high level of service every time they shop with you. It's important to instil in your employees the value your business places on customer care.

In an increasingly online world, one noisy disgruntled customer can mean a whole lot less business.

Surprise them and show you care - When it comes to creating reciprocity, it really is the thought that counts. An act of kindness is more effective when it is unexpected.

Look for opportunities to surprise loyal customers with a follow-up freebie or some sort of treat to thank them for their continued support.

Like attracts like - There's a psychological concept that says we generally like people more if they are like us. In customer service, this can often be achieved by finding common ground.

Relationships with customers are built one step at a time, and the first step is simply getting to know them. Listen, show you've listened and you're well on your way to customer love.

Embrace negative feedback - If you impress a customer by resolving their complaint and doing so quickly, they are likely to reward you with loyalty.

To stay consistent, use the CARP method of dealing with unhappy customers:
• Control the situation.
• Acknowledge the dilemma.
• Refocus the conversation.
• Problem-solve so the customer leaves happy.

- NZ Herald

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