Social media is a helpful communication tool for businesses as it allows them to communicate directly with customers and engage them in conversations. Social media can also help you to increase your customers’ brand awareness and find new contacts or business opportunities. If you want to become active on social media, but don’t know [...]
Who's running your show?
In the fiercely competitive business world, no one needs to remind you that your customers are your greatest assets. As a business owner you are aware of it, but what about your staff? Whatever product or service your business provides, when dealing with customers you are dealing with emotional beings. Unless your staff has basic customer relations skills, the dollars you spend on advertising and marketing may well be wasted. Poorly trained staff can send customers to your competitors as quickly as you bring them in.
I got up this morning at 5.45am to attend my Wednesday morning spin class. I was at the gym by 6.15am when the list for the bikes is made available and members add their name to the list on a first in, best-dressed basis. The system is clear, the list is available at 6.15am. I was not happy when I arrived to find the list had been produced at an earlier time and that it was now full. The system had broken down. However, if you have a system of any sort in place, make sure your staff implements it. Sounds basic doesnt it? Read on, it gets worse.
As a regular member, I wanted an explanation and assurance that the problem would be rectified before my next visit. I approached a member of the counter staff and explained the situation. Her immediate response was to argue the point. She tried to convince me that I must have been running late, even though it was now only 6.20am and I had had time to check upstairs and come down again.
The rules of customer service
Rule 1: Never argue with customers and never try to make them wrong
Human beings get emotional and few things get them more emotional than being told that they are wrong.
I turned my attention to another staff member who I know by name and asked him directly when the list had been put out. He shrugged his shoulders and said it was about 6.05am as far as he knew. He said a member must have taken the list without asking so there was nothing he could do. His attitude gave a clear message that he was on the defensive and didnt care. He was even prepared to blame another member/customer.
Rule 2: Take your customer seriously and empathise with your customer
Make it clear that you will do everything you can to solve the problem. If people feel they are being heard they will usually calm down and be prepared to work with you to solve the problem.
I left the gym feeling angry and frustrated, so I rang later in the morning to find out the managers name. I was given his name but the staff member was unable to let me know when he would be available, made no attempt to find out what the problem was and did not offer to have the manager return my call.
Rule 3: Listen to your customer
Find out what it is that they want and offer a solution or a choice of solutions. Ask "Is this a problem I can help you with or can I arrange for the manager to ring you back? What would be a convenient time for you?" Customers are not alien beings, they like to feel valued and they like to be heard.
As a business owner you are committed to excellence in customer service
It is vital that your staff have a sound understanding of what this means. Customer service is not something you do to customers. It is something you do for them by relating to them and fulfilling their needs. It is up to you as the owner of the business to do the training and then follow up to make sure that staff is behaving in the desired way. The viability and success of your business may very well depend on it.
By the way, I left a message with the customer relations manager for the entire chain and, you guessed it, she hasnt bothered returning my call!