BY March 14, 2013

 

Principles of customer service are nice, but you need to put those principles into action with everything you do and say.

There are certain “magic words” that customers wants to hear from you and your staff.

Make sure your employees understand the importance of these key words:
“How can I help?” Customers want the opportunity to
explain in detail what they want and need. Too often, business owners
feel the desire or the obligation to guess what customers need rather
than carefully listening first. By asking how you can help, you begin
the dialogue on a positive note. (You are “helping,” not “selling.”) And
by using an open-ended question, you invite discussion.

“I can solve that problem.” Most customers,
especially B2B customers, are looking to buy solutions. They appreciate
answers in a language they can understand.

“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” When confronted
with a truly difficult question that requires research on your part,
admit it. Few things ruin your credibility faster than trying to answer a
question when you are unaware of the facts. Savvy buyers may test you
with a question they know you can’t answer, and then just sit quietly
while you struggle to fake an answer. An honest reply enhances your
integrity.
“I will take responsibility.” Tell your customers
you realize it’s your responsibility to ensure a satisfactory outcome to
the transaction. Assure the customer you know what she expects and will
deliver the product or service at the agreed-upon price. There will be
no unexpected expenses or changes required to solve the problem.
“I will keep you updated.” Even if your business is a
cash-and-carry operation, it probably requires coordinating and
scheduling numerous events. Assure your customers they will be advised
of the status of these events. The longer your lead time, the more
important it is. The vendors that customers trust the most are those
that keep them apprised of the situation, whether the news is good or
bad.
“I will deliver on time.” A due date that has been agreed upon is a promise that must be kept. “Close” does not count.
“Monday means Monday.” The first week in July means
the first week in July, even though it contains a national holiday. Your
clients are waiting to hear you say, “I will deliver on time.” The
supplier who consistently does so is a rarity and well-remembered.
“It will be just what you ordered.” It will not be
“similar to,” and it will not be “better than” what was ordered. It will
be exactly what was ordered. Even if you believe a substitute would be
in the client’s best interests, that’s a topic for discussion, not
something you decide on your own. Your customers may not know (or be at
liberty to explain) all the ramifications of the purchase.
“The job will be complete.” Assure the customer there will be no waiting for a final piece or a last document. Never say you will be finished “except for …”
“I appreciate your business.” This means more than a
simple “Thanks for the order.” Genuine appreciation involves follow-up
calls, offering to answer questions, making sure everything is
performing satisfactorily, and ascertaining that the original problem
has been solved.
Neglecting any of these steps conveys the impression that you were
interested in the person only until the sale was made. This leaves the
buyer feeling deceived and used, and creates ill will and negative
advertising from the company.
Sincerely proving you care about your customers leads to recommendations … and repeat sales.