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Customer Service

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Customer Service _ Do not bite the hand that feeds you

Before I discuss customer service I would like to talk about customers. It is important to differentiate between your repeat customers and your one time customers. Of course when you first deal with a customer you will not know if they will be a one time customer or a repeat customer. You will know if their initial sale is large or small but that should not be counted on too heavily. Sometimes people will initially place a small order to see how reputable your company is and how you deal with them. If they are turned off they will not deal with you again. So anytime sometime has a first time dealing with your business it is best to be on your best behavior. If you have staff make sure this is ingrained in their heads. An initial big sale may lead you to believe you have a valuable customer. However, they may never deal with you again. Why? Many reasons. You had something in stock they needed immediately or on this product you had a better price or it was convenient to deal with you for this item. The point I am making is you never know so you need to treat any initial customer dealing as if they will be a long time valuable customer.

Don’t pick and choose whom you will devote your time to because care now could lead to sales in the future. Here is one of my favorite examples. My husband sold cars. One day a man walked into the dealership dressed in overalls that were neither pressed nor extremely clean. My husband waited on this man. None of the other salesmen were running up to help this man. As it turned out this man was a rancher. He paid for his car in cash. He and my husband became friends. This man referred many people to my husband. Our family was invited out to their ranch many times. We went horseback riding and were treated to lovely, lively dinners.

Do you know who much money it costs for you to get a customer? This is one thing you need to calculate. If you keep this in mind it will help you treat your customers right.

So what is customer service? Customer service is relating to your customer and offering your customer the information and assistance they need in oder to purchase from you. Customer service does not always end after a purchase. It could also be keeping in touch with your customer between sales.

Customer service is treating a customer how you would like to be treated. I find too many businesses using scripts and thinking they are practicing good customer service. Scripts make the person you are talking to sound like a robot. I like personal customer service. I like to work with someone that has a personality and a brain. I do not want to be helped by a robotic person that is reciting a script.

If you have your own business and you use scripts you will turn off and lose your customers. They may put up with the scripts from a large corporation but they will not tolerate it from a small business. It is a turn off. So talk to your customer like they are a human being and you are also.

What about the difficult customer that wants service. Once in a while you may have a customer that you think is out to get you. There is not much you can do with this customer except to be polite and stand firm. Then there is the next group of customers that you may find difficult. This is where you must be careful.

I have found that these customer are not actually difficult. What I have found is that they need more information and explanations than other customers. What I have found is that they are not actually difficult just confused. These are the customers that you must refine your sales technique for. These are the customers that you may have to be straight forward with. For example at some point I had to raise my prices. I informed my customers that I had to raise my prices. I also told my customers that their prices would be not be raised for 30 days. I also informed them that for any new customers the price increase was effective immediately. I had to raise my price but I wanted to do something special for my long time customers. Some did call me and want to know why I was raising my prices. These are the customers I was straightforward with. I told them my staff deserved a pay increase and this was the only way I could do it. My customers knew me and they knew my staff. They knew us because our company believed in excellent customer service. We believed in getting to know our customers. When our customers called they felt like they were good friends if not family.

Once they were offered this explanation they accepted it. I think it was a fair question for them to ask since it did affect them. I think I gave them a fair answer. I also let my customers know that they had the 30 day grace period because I valued their business.

Do you thank your customers when you deal with them? Do you verbally thank them or do you do this in writing. If you thank them in writing is this a personal thank you? I recommend a personal, personalized thank you note.

Always keep your word.  If you tell a customer you will get back to thme in 24 hours get back to them in 24 hours.  Even if you do not have an answer for them get back to them and let them know you are working on this issue. 

I am advocating you engage in excellent customer service. The best way to think about this is to think how much it costs you to get a customer. How much will you lose if you lose a customer? How quickly will you replace that lost customer? Will that lost customer bad mouth you to others? These are all things to consider when you deal with your customers. Lastly remember customers are your bread and butter. Treat them with respect and let them know that you want their business and appreciate their business.

Marcia, Your Confidence Coach

February 26, 2007 - Posted by | customer service, work at home business

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