Providing top-notch customer service isn’t about following a script and smiling until your cheeks hurt – it’s about the personal touch, and that’s something that smaller companies excel at.
To really, really wow your customers, follow these five steps.
1. Make sure you’re easy to get hold of
Nothing annoys customers, or potential customers, like an unanswered email or a struggle to find a direct phone number when they have an urgent question. Make sure you’re always contactable, always helpful and always a pleasure to deal with – and not just when you’re trying to sell something.
2. Know your products inside out
You, or your sales team, should know everything about the things that you are trying to sell, in order to give genuine, tailored advice to potential customers. Don’t just try to push the biggest ticket items as hard as you can; to gain customers’ loyalty, you need to listen very carefully to what they want and then figure out what you can offer them that actually meets these requirements. To do that, you have to really understand what it is you offer – and be willing to advise on alternatives.
3. Chat – and remember the details
Be genuinely friendly and interested in what that customer has to say. Don’t just listen and note down what they want out of their product, note down why they want it, too. For example, are they buying a dress for a big event, or are they purchasing software to give their career a boost? Remember it, and include a little note, good luck card, advice or even a relevant freebie as an extra touch. People buy from people, not companies, and building a rapport is an excellent first step.
4. Over-deliver on your promises
Once you’ve made your sale, don’t just keep your word. That’s the baseline. Instead, see if you can push it a little further. Meet that deadline or delivery date a little earlier than you promised. Make sure the quality is perfect. Perhaps slip in a little complimentary extra (subtly pointing this out to make it clear it’s not part of the service!). You don’t even have to go the extra mile – often, the extra inch is enough of a surprise to make your customers remember the favour.
5. Set a discretionary customer experience budget
This is an idea that’s been put forward by Cheryl Adamson of the online fashion school Mastered, and it’s a great one: put aside a little bit of money that your staff can use on an ad hoc basis, when they want to do something really nice for a customer. Adamson gives the example of ordering a surprise cab for an “overburdened parent with a crying child”, but this could be anything. Perhaps you could send a guidebook for a long-term customer that mentions they’re being seconded overseas for a few months, or slip a simple box of chocolates into the order for someone that confides they’ve had a rough week? A little present fund like this means you’ll will seriously stand out as lovely people and build a loyal customer base in the process. It just takes listening, and a little imagination.