As products, price, and location becomes even more competitive in today’s marketplace, the spotlight on customer service as a competitive advantage grows. For small businesses, the stakes are even higher. According to a survey conducted by American Express, 81% of respondents believe that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on service than larger companies.
While tips, tactics, and how-tos on providing standout service are abundant, what are the things you could still be doing to scare your customers away? Here are 4 customer service “don’ts” to avoid at your small business, and some easy suggestions on what to do instead.
1. Don’t rush customers out the door
Speedy service equals great service, right? Well, not exactly. In a study conducted by Gallup, they found that customers who gave high ratings on attributes like sincerity, willingness to help, and product knowledge were nine times more likely to be fully emotionally engaged with a brand or service. They concluded that while speed is important, it cannot stand alone without quality service.
Do take the time to personalize their experience
Taking small steps to personalize a customer’s experience can go a long way. according to a study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology, waiters were shown to increase their tips by 21% by simply following up with customers after their purchase. When your employees show their willingness to help, customers will be reaffirmed that made the right decision visiting your store.
2. Don’t turn your back on your customers
The nonverbal signs you’re giving your customers may fly under the radar, but your customers are sure to take note of them. Avoid facing your back to your entry door, failing to make eye contact, using your personal phone, or carrying on personal conversation while your customers are waiting.
Do greet customers and connect with them
When customers walk in your front door, take the time to make a positive first impression and greet them with a kind welcome. As you’re completing the transaction, focus on the customer you’re working with. This means actively listening, making eye contact, and following up on any questions they may have.
3. Don’t be unprepared for a service breakdown
Let’s face it, customer service breakdowns happens. Whether it’s a product failure or miscommunication, don’t get caught without a plan to recover from a customer service blunder. Not having a clear path to resolution will leave your customers even more frustrated, and you’ll miss out on the opportunity to earn back their loyalty.
Do train your employees on how to handle blunders
Plan ahead and prepare a plan for service recovery that any of your employees can use. Micah Solomon, a leading customer service expert, lays out a simple 5 step process (Check it out in more detail here) you can use in most scenarios:
- Apologize and ask for forgiveness.
- Review the complaint with your customer.
- Fix the problem within the next 20 minutes.
- Follow up after fixing the problem to show concern.
- Document the problem in detail to help you permanently fix the issue and identify trends.
4. Don’t forget about your employees
Your employees are on the front lines of your business, and they’re your biggest brand ambassadors. Not prioritizing your employees, their satisfaction, and the working culture in your business will spill over into your customer experience. If you don’t go the extra mile for your staff, you can’t expect them to go the extra mile for your customers.
Do create a culture that promotes great service
How can you move beyond a culture of function, to a culture of purpose? Take note from companies like Southwest Airlines, Disney or Chipotle. Each company emphasizes the importance of their staff and their role in meeting the company’s mission.
Southwest Airlines’ mission is to “connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.” They motivate their staff with this shared vision and a culture that celebrates successes, empowers employees and provides mentorship. Read more about this in the book, Lead with LUV: A Different Way to Create Success.
Define the mission of your company, share it with your staff and celebrate their efforts in moving it forward.
Now that you know to avoid these customer service oversights, you can focus on fun, positive interactions and creating a solid base of loyal customers.
Have any customer service dos or don’ts of your own to add? Feel free to share them in the comments.