This week is customer service week--which makes me laugh, because it means that enough companies are still ignoring the importance of customer service that they need to be reminded with a "week". Customer service can't be something that gets attention only one week per year or that companies have to remind their reps to be good at doing. It should be an integral part of the culture of each company. Here are 5 ways give great customer service all year long.
- Under-promise and over-deliver. Figure out what is realistic for your company to do, and then communicate that clearly to your customers, but work hard to be even better. When we wanted our company, Metal Mafia, to be able to start shipping all orders submitted by 2pm on the same day they were received, we continued to tell customers that the order would ship by the next business day, as it always had. This gave us a cushion period to get up to speed internally before making the "same day ship" official, Customers who had expected their order a day later, were even happier when they received their box a day earlier than indicated. Customers love when a company exceeds their expectations--and they tell everyone they know when it happens.
- Keep it simple. Don't engage in elaborate strategies that make the customer crazy--purchasing should be transparent, reward systems easy to understand, and returns handled painlessly. We have only one price for each item--there are no discounts, no special deals if you know the right person, no reorder pricing--you pay the same price, all the time for the item you want. Customers like the comfort of clarity, and they are more willing to make a purchase when they don't feel confused.
- Surprise your customers whenever you can. There are a million ways to surprise your clients, at all different stages of their interaction with your company. We make sure customers get a free item to try out with every order, we send hand-written thank you notes (and apology letters if we make a mistake), and we have even had reps hand deliver orders to customers when they vacationed in the same area. Everyone loves a good surprise, and customers are no different.
- Make everything you do about your customers. This year my company celebrated its 10th anniversary. We did so by giving away one randomly awarded order per day to our customers for the 30 days of our birthday month. It made no difference the size of the order, and we had winners walk away with anywhere from $100 to $2400, all of whom were surprised and grateful. We chose this because we figured it would be the most helpful gift to our customers' bottom lines--and thus a real thank you for their loyalty. Customers want to know that you care about their business like its your own.
- Focus on people, not policies. Customers don't like to feel like one of a million--they want to feel like one in a million. Their needs, their questions, and their problems are all different, and they want to feel like the company they are buying from understands that. When we choose our employees, we pick people who listen carefully, act with autonomy and are concerned with doing the "right thing"--and we let them decide with the customer what that "right thing" is in every situation. Customers want to be treated as individuals rather than made to fit a pre-existing policy book.
Great customer service should happen every day--not just during customer service week. After all, it just means treating your customer the way you would want to be treated.