Do your customers only come around once and never return? You must be wondering where you are going wrong.
In my experience, customers need three ingredients to come back to a business: quality product or service, reasonable prices, and great customer service.
Now the first two are black and white. However, the latter is a very grey area for many businesses, particularly small businesses.
What does it take to have great customer service?
If you ask me, great customer service requires three things:
- good communications skills among customer-facing employees
- a willingness to solve any customer issues as quickly as possible
- understanding and meeting customer expectations
And these have to be done day in, day out. Your customer service quality can’t be seasonal.
You need not despair though. By learning a few simple rules, you can change a customer’s experience from blood-boiling to mind-blowing and on that note, below are the five common customer service gripes and how you can avoid them.
1. The long wait
Let’s be honest, guys; no one enjoys waiting. Waiting is stressful for many customers, especially those who have booked ahead and are having a busy day.
If you’re running behind schedule, give customers an estimate of how long their wait will be and seek their permission to delay them. Permission and information are empowering, and customers are likely to feel better about the wait.
Delays longer than 15 minutes are too long, and this is where you may need to offer customers something in return for waiting, such as refreshments or a VIP service.
Whip out some ice cream and watch those frowns melt away…
2. The unexpected bill
There’s little that irks a customer more than receiving a final bill that doesn’t match your initial quote, an example being GST tacked onto invoices that wasn’t included in the quote, more so when you include the additional cost without first checking with them.
Once again, quoting accurately, seeking customer permission for necessary additional costs, and explaining the need for them will empower the customer and keep them calm.
3. The call centre merry-go-round
Do you put your customers through multiple automated voicemail prompts before directing them to the wrong department? Or do you use an overseas-based call centre?
How about you broaden your options by offering additional online chat or email services?
4. Don’t make customers the apprentice guinea pig
Think twice before putting your customer’s experience in the hands of a jittery junior.
If an apprentice needs to work on a job to gain experience, seek the customer’s permission and make it a point to be there to supervise.
Some may have had poor experiences with apprentices in the past would not return if they are serviced by a junior again, while others are more than happy to – especially if you can afford to throw in a sweet discount.
5. Rude service
Small business is challenging, and many business owners are guilty of taking their emotions out on customers from time to time, and yet customers simply can’t stand impoliteness.
If you feel yourself getting emotionally involved or are feeling stressed prior to chatting with a customer, ask a colleague to replace you, or – in extreme cases – reschedule with the customer and incentivise them for being flexible.
They may be upset at the cancellation, but at least this will prevent a rude experience that could potentially permanently damage the relationship.
Bradley Taylor is the spokesperson at TrueLocal, an online business directory and business review website that attracts 5.7 million unique customers and 3.3 million searches every month. As a seasoned professional in helping Australians find and connect with their best local services, Taylor knows what makes a customer rave about a business.