Customer service is not about you the business, it is about keeping your customer happy and continuing to do business with you.  86% of customers report they will quit working with a company if they feel they were treated poorly.  An unhappy customer will tell 9 people minimum of their dissatisfaction. To obtain a new customer will cost  you 6-7 times what it costs to keep the original customer happy.

What can you do?

First, train your staff to be professional and courteous. When a customer is speaking with them, they should focus on them and nothing else. This is not the time to be multi tasking.

Second, listen to the needs of the customer. How can you make this a better experience for them. A consumer will most likely come to you to fix a problem. This is not the time to point out their mistake or lay blame. Instead look to find a solution that works best.

Third, make customers feel important and appreciated. Use their name if possible, and compliment them sincerely. Do not be fake, they will be able to tell. Thank them every time you get a chance, remember you need them more than they need you.

Fourth, always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request within reason tell them that you can do it. Figure out how to make it happen. No one wants to hear the word no.

Fifth, this may be the hardest, know how to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Take time to deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain, value their complaints. No one likes to hear a complaint but it gives you an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.

Finally, give your customer more than they expect. Under promise over deliver. What can you give your customer that they can not get elsewhere? What can you give them that is unexpected?

Each year US companies loose 41 billion dollars to poor customer service. 93% of consumers will take action based on poor customer service, this could be leaving, this could be bad mouthing your company. Make sure you are taking the necessary steps to keep consumers purchasing from you.

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on September 21st, 2015.