Or should I say the art of good old-fashioned quality customer service of the kind that is often lacking in today’s business world?
Universally clients are presented at Christmas with offerings of gratitude, calendars, gifts etc. But what about the rest of the year? After all, clients associates and customers are important all year round, and while giving at Christmas is expected, the impact tends to be a little lost simply because it is the convention. Now is always the perfect time to say thank you to those that have provided support or business to your business. It tells associates or clients that they are appreciated now, and not just when the cheque is signed. It lets them know they are important and have a role to play in helping the growth and sustainability of the business. It is also too easy to forget to acknowledge the contribution of people who work extremely hard in back office roles.
Recently I was shopping at a major chain retail outlet with a friend who spent well over $400. Imagine our surprise when we asked for a bag to carry a significant number of items and were told it would cost us an extra $2. We all wish to support the planet and environment and do understand the need to discourage bag use with a surcharge. But this was a small-minded approach considering the value of the transaction and it seriously dented our impression of the store. The staff did not understand the needs of the customer; they displayed no flexibility in a tight market environment and did not provide any reward for our loyalty. There was no thank you on offer that day!
What is good customer service? It is making sure that everyone you deal with in your business is treated with respect, honesty and above all with courtesy. It is making the business transaction as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. We may not get it right all the time, but how you deal with mistakes is very important, as often it is this situation that will leave the most lasting impression. To deal with mistakes, do not apportion blame; admit errors and work together with the client to determine the best solution for them.
Examples of good customer service abound. It can be the shop assistant that allows you to enter the store even slightly past closing time, the restaurant that makes you something off the menu, or the checkout operator that does not race to put up the checkout closed sign as you approach.
We recently changed our telecommunications provider and had a few a hiccups with the emails. The owner of the company phoned straight away after we reported the fault, took full responsibility for it, apologised, and wrote a charming letter. Out of one hiccup, has grown a good working relationship in which we recommend his business, and we look forward to doing further work with him.
The team that you employ is your greatest asset or liability and they need to understand and demonstrate the principles of great customer service in all their interactions with clients. Do your staff fit with your vision for your company, do they understand the needs of the customer and how the company will deliver on those needs. Are they flexible and adaptable? If not, maybe now is the time for retraining or mentoring. High quality customer service costs nothing; poor quality customer service can cost you your business.
Source – Sandra Milsom, Managing Director
(09) 430 3777