5 Steps to Amazing Customer Service

Customers are the life-blood of any small business, but it can be challenging to keep them satisfied, engaged, and coming back.  What does it take to provide the kind of service that not only wins customers, but makes them raving fans of your business?

To win repeat customers, you must, of course, start with a great product, great marketing, and a great strategy.  With those things in place, it’s imperative to make sure your employees have the training and tools available to not only meet, but exceed customer expectations. By understanding and consistently applying the five principles below, your team can provide an amazing customer experience that ensures your business will attract and retain a loyal customer base.

Definition: How your business defines customer service shapes every customer interaction.  Customer service definitions should provide a clear direction for every representative to address client needs as much as possible and bring the vision of an amazing customer experience to life. Based on your strategic goals and values, develop a clear definition of the customer experience and be sure every employee has the tools and training to embrace it fully. Here’s a sample definition to consider:

Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met.

Customer: Who is your target market?  Where do they live? How much disposable income do they have? What factors influence their buying decisions?  Customer demographic, geographic, and psychographic data will help you better understand your customers’ needs and buying habits.  You can gather this information through satisfaction surveys or online research. SBDC can provide free Market Research Reports to help you better understand your customers.

Product/Service:  Know what you’re selling, whether product, service, or experience. Address the following questions and make sure employees understand the information well enough to convey it to clients in order to make the sale and provide follow-up as needed.

  • What benefits does your product or service provide for your customer?
  • What are the main features, costs, guarantees?
  • What are the top selling points?
  • Why is your product or service better than that of your competitors?
  • What after-sale service will the customer need or expect?

Approach: One commonality among all companies or organizations that excel in service is the development of a system and attitude that promotes customer-friendly service. Two critical qualities to a “customer-friendly” approach are communication and relationships.  Develop a service approach using the questions below and make sure each employee is trained in the process.  This will ensure every customer receives a consistent experience with your company.

  • How do you greet customers?
  • How do you find out what the customer needs?
  • What do you do if there’s a problem?
  • How do you close a sale?
  • How do you get customer feedback?

Training:  It is imperative that your employees fully understand your products and services and adhere to your defined customer service process when interacting with clients.  This is the KEY to customer satisfaction and will ensure that every customer has an amazing and po

sitive experience with your business.  Other competencies related to customer service—whether it is provided in person or via phone or internet—should be included in your employee training plan.  These skills may include topics such as the following:

  • Communication: First impressions, phone etiquette, body language.
  • Problem Resolution: Handling complaints, de-escalation, shared solutions.
  • Follow-up and Feedback: Ensuring satisfaction, survey analysis, customer referrals.

Great customer service doesn’t just happen.  It’s an intentional combination of strategy, knowledge, communication, relationships, process, and training.  To develop and provide a consistent, amazing customer experience for your clients, follow these tips and be sure to contact your local SBDC office for a full complement of free consulting services. | kwm

Kathy Miller, PHR CPTD

Small Business Blog