January 22, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – How’s Your Customer Service?

So, how is your customer service?  We have discussed various aspects of customer service over the past blog postings.  Also, we have discussed how to evaluate your customer service, what good customer service is, and what bad customer service is.  Right now, stop and be honest with yourself; how is your customer service?  Is your personal customer service better or worse than that of your business?

Is good customer service the same as giving the business away to increase your customer base?  No, sometimes a business must “fire” a customer, but that is a topic for another time.  So what is “good” customer service?  How do we provide it without sacrificing our core values as a business or as a person?  Good customer service begins with our core values, that is, if we have ever thought of those.  Have you considered what your core values are?

How do you treat customers when you first meet them?  Do you have the means to show them your products or services and the costs involved?  I know someone recently who was shopping for a service for her business and found only one company who had a pre-printed price list for their offerings.  Only one other company could even print a price sheet when she requested one.  She was told by one business owner, “Well, it’s not that hard to remember.”

What does the customer think when they first see your business?  Is your store, if you have one, clean, welcoming, and easy to find?  Is parking easy, convenient, and safe?  Do you welcome them in a friendly manner, making them believe that you appreciate their possible business?  Do you have a pre-printed price sheet with all your offerings, in an easy to read, and understand, format?  Do you find out what someone needs before you try to sell them what you have?

What have we said about making it easy for people to do business with you?  Professional businesses have a valid product or service for a valid price with a listing that customers can see and have if they want to do so.  Perhaps someone needs to research various businesses and write a proposal for someone else in order to finalize a business relationship; maybe they just need to think over their decision to buy from you or not.  Maybe they are concerned about you, or your employees, misquoting, or changing, the price before the decision is finalized.

Is the buying process easy to follow and understand?  Is the delivery process easy on the customer?  Will delays hamper your ability to deliver the product when the customer wants it?  Is there a way for the customer to track the product delivery?  Is there a way for problems to be rectified if necessary?  Is the customer service department necessary to correct problems, and how difficult are they to reach?  Can they make decisions to correct problems?

What about your return policy?  Do you even have one, or are all purchases made without the possibility of return?  Is the policy clearly spelled out to everyone, even to employees?  Is the policy followed, or are there exceptions?  Why are there exceptions?  Does your business take ownership of mistakes, make corrections visible to everyone, and honor everyone’s commitments?  Everyone makes mistakes; no one is immune to, or beyond, making errors.

As your comments, emails and calls come in, I’ll start writing my next blogs which will discuss some of your thoughts as well as some that I haven’t yet mentioned.  Be sure to share your ideas here, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.  Your experience, good or bad, is valuable to others.  Sharing is just great karma.

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