If you’re a small business owner, you already know how hard it is to attract new customers and earn their loyalty. Providing excellent customer service is the key to generating repeat business, but what exactly does “excellent customer service” mean? It’s something everyone talks about but few people really understand.
At a time when everything seems to be getting more complex instead of simpler, it’s harder than ever to provide customer with a consistent experience. Word of mouth is incredibly important in the small business world, and bad customer experiences have far-reaching consequences in the age of social media.
The flip side of the coin is that good reviews also travel fast and go a long way. While providing customers with an enjoyable shopping experience may seem incredibly difficult and a mystically unattainable thing, there are actually two very simple principles that form its basis:
Treat Customers with Respect
If you view customers as wallets to be emptied, chances are you’re not providing shoppers with the kind of experience that wins their business next time. When it comes to dealing with customers, the secret is to treat them the way you would like to be treated.
Show respect for your customers’ intelligence. Be courteous and helpful, and never treat them like a distraction or an impediment to the countless other things you have to do at work.
Ask One Simple Question
As far as exactly what you should be doing when interacting with customers, simply answer this deceptively simple question:
What is the fastest and easiest way to deliver what this customer wants?
This is not to say that customers don’t want attentive service. They do. But they also value efficiency. They’re visiting your business to buy something, and chances are they want to complete that transaction and move on with their day as quickly as possible. Are you doing enough to facilitate that?
Encourage all your employees to ask themselves that question when they’re dealing with customers. Divide the approach into two steps:
- What does this customer want?
- What is the fastest way to deliver what they want?
The onus isn’t on the customer to make the shopping experience easy, especially when the customer has encountered a problem they need your help to solve. That onus is on you and your employees.
Don’t stick to rigid systems and unnecessary protocols. Don’t treat every customer the same way or use the same approaches every time you encounter a problem. Every situation is unique, just like every customer is different, so you and your employees may need to make adjustments and be open to doing things differently to solve problems quickly and easily.
Good Service Is the Main Thing that Brings Your Customers Back
You may offer low prices. You may have things in stock when other stores don’t. You may provide a unique service people have a hard time finding somewhere else. But if you don’t do enough to earn repeat business from your customers by providing them with good service, they won’t come back in the kind of numbers you would like.
The business world is a cutthroat place, and your competitors will always be doing everything they can to poach your customers. If you’re not ready to do what it takes to succeed in that kind of environment, chances are your business will fail sooner or later.
Send your customers away feeling satisfied. It’s easier than you think: just treat them with respect and help them get what they want as quickly and simply as possible.