"Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Their needs and wants impact every aspect of your business, from product development to content marketing to sales to customer service."
--- John Rampton
Every business anywhere can always improve their customer service. Even the best at customer service, such as Apple and Chic-fil-A, are always looking for better ways to provide a better customer service experience, which is probably why they're the best. The sign industry has its top leaders in customer service too, and it would serve us well to strive to emulate them.
Customer service isn't just about providing a quality product or service at a great price, but it is about creating an experience for the customer that makes them want to do business with us again. It is about delivering a level of quality that makes the customer tell their family and friends about us. It is showing empathy for the customer and having a deep-down desire to provide solutions for them. To help you do that, here are four segments of customer service we can all begin working on to improve:
"Grandpa didn't have any idea of customer service. But he wanted to make a living. Eventually, we saw it was not in our best interest to be arguing with customers."
--- Bruce Nordstrom
First, we all know that the customer is not always right. In fact, it is okay to fire a customer if they are wrong too many times. But some businesses go out of their way to prove the customer wrong. They are like the sign industry's version of the Soup Nazi in the Seinfeld's episodes. To be better at customer service we must first learn to listen to the customer.
Communication experts tell us that the most important part of communication is listening. Learn to really listen to the customer to uncover the root issues. If we are arguing, we're not listening and not uncovering how to best serve the customer. Read Dr. Bommelje's "Listening Pays" book as well as others to learn how to really listen.
"Customer service, they say, is dead. Actually, it isn't. It's just hiding behind a call center in Manila."
--- Timothy Noah
The second step for improving customer service is to be real. Your customers want a human being, preferably in person, to vent to. They want someone who can, not just provide solutions, but empathize with their situation. Be real with your customers. Sit across from them with a cup of coffee and strive to understand their issues.
"I think one of the things that, at least, I found out over - and many have in the industry - is that of all the customer service desires and needs, price is one of them."
--- Oscar Munoz
Thirdly, rethink your pricing strategy. You don't always have to be lower than the competition, but your pricing should be reasonable from the customer's point of view. To make that happen, you may have to educate your customers on the value of what it is that you provide. Show them what goes into your service or product and how that high level of quality has costs associated with them.
"Customer service teams at many companies have already embraced social media, often out of necessity."
--- Ryan Holmes
Finally, get with the times and showcase your business on social media and any other new outlets available. The key here is that you want to shout your great customer service from the rooftops. In order to do that, you have to learn everything that is available for you. For those in my age bracket, that may require tapping the skills of a younger team member to assist with this or take on the task completely.
Focus on these four customer service areas and make them as perfect as possible. If you do, you will notice a considerable improvement in customer loyalty as well as increased branding via your customers.