Happy customers are important for long-term business success. An established, stable client base can deliver repeat business at little marketing cost.

Happy customers come back, and they may also tell others about the great service provided by your company.  Word of mouth advertising is free and effective, but it’s also important to remember that word of mouth works both ways – negative feedback can spread like wildfire and damage your reputation and your bottom line, especially now that so many people rely on online reviews and social media for information about businesses.

Customer care is an essential aspect of daily business operations. Fixing problems for customers should be part of a decision maker’s job description. Individuals should have the authority to fix problems – even if it means taking a financial loss.  The customer isn’t always right, but your business should act like every customer is right every time. That’s how you build a stable base of repeat business.

Here’s how to keep your customers and clients tethered to your business – helping to grow it stronger every day.

Be accessible. Make it simple for customers to connect to a human being authorized to fix the problem. Telephone trees, automated responses, and “contact us” boxes on your website provide convenient ways to solve minor issues or frequently asked questions, but there should always be an option to contact a real person without too much additional inconvenience.

Fix it fast. The longer a customer complaint remains unresolved, the more unhappy that customer becomes. Create a customer care system that addresses complaints quickly, and keeps the customer informed during the remediation process.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a great tool to track the status of customer complaints, from current status to resolution – all at a glance. Consider adding CRM to your company tool chest to track and resolve customer complaints quickly.

Train staff to truly listen, and analyze the customer’s complaint. Often customer service representatives work from standard “scripts.” The client asks a tech support question, the rep accesses the “answer” from the standard script and provides whatever information the script contains.

Scripts are fine for standard problems, but in the case of client satisfaction, one size usually does NOT fit all. Your team should be trained to listen, and to understand the client’s point of view – the point of view that counts.

Understand the true nature of the problem. Ask questions. It’s difficult to turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied buyer or client if you don’t fully understand the nature and scope of the complaint.  Why is the customer unhappy? Listen to the customer’s entire story without interruption. Determine what steps the customer and the company have taken to resolve the problem. In other words, train your customer care team to follow the lead of customers, and go “off script” with unusual problems.

Show true customer support. That’s what you want to deliver. Reps should apologize for the customer’s inconvenience and get to work solving the problem to the customer’s satisfaction. Train customer service reps to sympathize with customers and resolve issues with a single telephone call.

Offer a free replacement. If a product arrived broken, send out a replacement immediately with no shipping charges. Follow up with an email to make sure the replacement item arrived. Provide simple directions and all necessary paperwork to return an item.

Get creative. Maybe the client doesn’t want a revision. Maybe the client doesn’t want a replacement. What do they want and how can your company provide it?  The solution may not be a simple refund.  Dig a little deeper and find out what will make them not only satisfied, but impressed with your efforts to please them.

No excuses. Solutions. Don’t make excuses. Customers don’t care that the computers went down or that another department is to blame. They want their problem resolved – without a lot of hassle. They want it solved quickly, and to their satisfaction.

Honor all warranties and guarantees. If you guarantee it, customers expect you to honor that guarantee or warranty. A guarantee is a valuable trust builder as you acquire more customers and clients. Make your terms clear to avoid misunderstandings. Post return policies where they can be seen in your retail outlet or on your web site.

The old saying is true: It’s easier and cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one. Once you have customers – happy customers – keep them that way to enjoy long-term business success.  

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A. Member FDIC