A call is all it takes
Have you ever received a call from a business you frequent to ask you about the service? Or — even better — has anyone ever called you to thank you for complaining?
I once had a problem with the air-conditioner of my car and the dealership simply couldn’t seem to fix the defect. I complained to the service department, only to later receive a phone call from the general manager of the dealership. He thanked me for the call, explained that my car would be sent to a new air-con specialist at their expense to have it seen to again and that if it wasn’t fixed my bill would be refunded in full.
He invited me to come into the dealership to discuss it further if I wished. Although my car air-con wasn’t repaired, I really appreciated the manager going the extra mile to phone me and address my concerns.
Related: Customer Service Success Secrets
A phone call to address customer comments or complaints is a method that should be used by all businesses. The script is simple:
- Thank the customer for their feedback.
- Address their complaint.
- Tell them how it’s going to be sorted out.
- Thank them again.
- Invite them to come back soon. This is yet another way to turn a possibly damaging incident into a positive customer experience.
The sound of your own name has a certain magic about it. It makes you feel special, and it establishes a connection with the person speaking to you.
We all feel that way, so try to make your customers experience that special bond by using their first names when dealing with them. It elevates your interaction to the personal level from being just a bland transaction. You learn someone’s first name by introducing yourself by name when they come into your shop or from your business communications.
When speaking to your customer, pay attention to how they pronounce their name, then use it accordingly, and best of all, remember it. Practice using people’s first names as you address them. “I can do you a half lamb for just under R1 000, Dave. How does that grab you?”
This kind of thing will be sure to grab Dave a lot better since you’re using his first name. You’ve established a special personal bond, right there in your butchery.
Online customers, online customer service
Whether you do business on the Internet, or your store simply has a Facebook account, you have an online presence. You need to have an online customer-service ethic.
Be sure to deal with every query and comment you come across online. Do web searches for your company’s name on Facebook and Twitter. Visit your store’s Facebook page regularly and respond to every comment
on there. Check your company email inbox.
Online conversations are personal, in the same way a chat with a customer in your store is a personal one. So show the same sincere, positive, personal attitude you do in your shop. Make it personal, and someone who was initially having a rant about what they thought was a faceless company, will calm down and become reasonable.
Don’t look at your Facebook page or your Twitter account as a one-way broadcast for you to announce your promotions. It is a two-way forum for communication, and a great tool for customer service and to build positivity about your business.
A site like hellopeter.com is specifically for consumers to report on the service that they receive from suppliers. Go on there from time to time and do a search for your company name. If you find a comment — positive or negative — engage the individual. The same applies to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
In the case of an upset individual going on a bit of a rant, be reasonable and try to take the conversation offline. Ask for the person’s email address so they can explain their problem more fully. If necessary, give them a phone call. Show you care and address all issues sincerely, just as you would in real life.
Social media protocol
On social media like Twitter and Facebook you have a chance to interact with customers about your store or your brand. It’s a great opportunity. Here are a few pointers:
The point of social media is that it’s a form of multi-user interaction. Don’t think of it like a television ad or a newspaper promo that goes out from you to your customers. Everyone has the right to an opinion on your brand. Luckily you know it better than anyone. So get on there and join the conversation. Accept praise, manage complaints, and correct any possible misunderstandings.
2. Have an account manager
If the volume of your social media traffic is large, or you’re not an expert, hire a social media manager to look after your account. They will handle day-to-day interactions and flag any serious issues for your input.
3. Be positive
As in life, positivity is contagious. Negative comments from you reflect poorly on your business. So don’t diss your competition or any unhappy customers. Come at it from a positive, constructive point of view. Get on it, pronto. A message on your FB page, or on Twitter is not something to be put on your to-do list. It needs to be addressed immediately. Engage the person and start a conversation. Leaving them hanging or ignoring them is rude.
4. Don’t feed the trolls
If someone descends into abuse and disrespect, stop the conversation. State your case, and if people are unreasonable or abusive, move on. If necessary, block them.
More haste, less speed
You know that some of the fastest service is not always a sign of good service. If I place an order at a restaurant and my meal arrives 40 seconds later, I’ll be slightly suspicious.
Similarly, customer service is not always just about speed. Sure, we are all under time pressure, but we still require quality service from the businesses we support. The Gallup Organization has conducted research that found satisfying the emotional needs of customers is equally, or more important than the speed of service.
So don’t neglect the personal aspect of your interaction with customers. Favouring speed above courtesy and effectiveness can actually be counter-productive. Who wants a meal prepared in a minute by grumpy staff that tastes awful?
Also, if your customer’s experience in your store is pleasant, the time they spend there can be irrelevant. They might spend a fun 20 minutes chatting to the waiters, watching sport on the big screen and reading your store magazine. Then their tasty meal arrives!
Most of the time, quality of service trumps speed.