National Customer Service Week is being celebrated from October 3-7. I have a question: are you delivering the best customer service you can? That is the key ingredient to generating repeat business, increasing customer satisfaction, and building your company.
A company’s front line employees can be an organization’s “secret” competitive advantage to securing repeat business.
Too many companies don’t understand that while delivering excellent customer service is the key ingredient for repeat business, it’s that special personal relationship between customer and employee that provides the link between customer satisfaction and customer retention.
The service delivered by front line employees must be viewed as the first step in the journey of loyalty. Your employees can be your most effective brand advocates.
10 Tips for Generating Repeat Business
1. Make sure that every one of your front line associates is capable of making a good first impression. Positive or negative opinions are formed within the first 10 seconds. You never have a second opportunity to make a warm and welcoming first impression.
2. Show appreciation to your customers. Thanking customers in a meaningful and thoughtful manner in every customer/front line encounter shows customers you care and appreciate their business. This seems obvious but not everyone does it.
3. Review your letters and email communications to ensure that they sound welcoming, personalized and make your customers feel important and appreciated.
4. Create a culture whereby your associates are treated as family and neighbors and they will, in turn, treat your customers the same way. Customers notice and appreciate when a company values its associates.
5. Answer questions from customers by not only responding to their direct inquiries, but by providing them with additional useful information. Customers often want to learn more about a potential purchase than what’s written on a tag or in a brochure.
6. Understand that the underlying ingredient of customer service is “helping” people. Make sure that every front line associate is trained to help people — to give that extra 10% of service. It will almost guarantee a great customer service experience. Employee training will improve customer service and satisfaction.
7. Say hello and smile. People are more stressed than ever as technology takes over our lives. Getting a big, warm hello can go a long way in giving a customer the feeling of “Hey, this company is really happy to see me.”
8. Make customers feel comfortable about returning an item to a store. Then, offer special attention to help them find what they need. Customers don’t like making returns, so be sure the return process is enjoyable and non-defensive. Customers will really appreciate it!
9. Listen to customer comments such as “This is the first time I used your site”, “I just moved into the neighborhood”, “I just happened to stop by,” etc., and leverage those opportunities to engage customers to learn what their needs are. Then find a way to meet those needs. In doing so you will build a relationship and lifetime of loyalty.
10. Reward front line employees who make every customer feel welcomed and important. Be sure that you continually thank the employees who are the lifeblood of your company.
Remember, the customer relationship starts with the first hello in person or over the phone, or the first response to the click on a link to your site. A company’s front line associates are the “voice of the company.”
Are employees who “touch” the customer properly trained to build a customer relationship? If they aren’t then give them the training they need. Employees want to do good work because if the company is successful it will thrive and grow and they will, too.
Richard Shapiro is the founder and president of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and author of the forthcoming book, “The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business” (Feb. 2012). His company designs and conducts customized customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement systems for Fortune 100 and 500 corporations and small businesses. This post is adapted from a blog originally posted on his site.