Just think about the last time you had a bad experience with
a product or a service.
Perhaps the product or service did not live up to the sales
pitch. Maybe the company was unresponsive to your calls or
emails. Maybe they did not do what they said they were going to
do. Or they gave you the run-around when you called to report a
problem or ask a question.
If you think about it, all of these negative experiences boil
down to one thing, a lack of customer service. And a lack of
customer service usually stems from a lack of customer focus. It
seems many businesses have simply lost sight of who they are
really in business to serve.
Instead of the old saying, "the customer is always right," many
businesses seem almost bothered by customers these days. In
fact, I'll let you in on a little secret from my early ad agency
days. We used to have a saying, "this business would be great,
if it wasn't for the clients."
How ridiculous is that?! We wouldn't have had a job if it
weren't for the clients (I'm older and wiser now!). Yes,
sometimes clients can be difficult, but they are the reason we
are in business. Our job is to serve them. If they are upset, we
should welcome the opportunity to find out why, and use that
information to improve our product or service.
Yes, sometimes you'll run into someone who is being totally
unreasonable and you just have to deal with it. But very often,
client complaints uncover a problem or something we can improve
So make it a point to really listen to your customers. Make a
commitment to treat all your customers well. After all, giving
great customer services is one of the best and cheapest
marketing tools available. When you treat your customers well,
or even better, when you deliver beyond their expectations, you
will be rewarded.
Those happy clients are the same clients who will happily refer
you. The opposite is also true. If you disappoint a client, or
don't deliver what you promise, or you just plain treat them
badly, they will likely tell everyone they know how horrible you
are. In fact, those disgruntled clients are more likely to talk
about you than your happy clients. Unfortunately, that's just
the way it usually works.
The good news is, it's not hard to give great customer service.
You simply have to be aware and make it a priority. Following
are 10 tips to help you offer stellar customer service.
1. Be accessible
Your customers should be able to get a hold of you, or someone
in your company, if they have a question or if they need
service. Provide multiple ways for your customers to get in
contact with you, such as email, phone, mail or fax.
2. Respond in a timely manner
Make it your policy to return all phone calls or emails within
24 hours. And, if you cannot commit to that, then determine what
timeframe you can manage and let your customers know upfront
they can expect to hear back from you within that amount of
3. Listen to your customers
Often when a customer calls or writes to complain, they just
want to be heard. In fact, sometimes, just listening is all you
need to do. Take the time to listen to what your customers have
to say before you start responding or defending your product or
service. They may just have a point.
4. Treat your customers with respect
Even if the customer on the other end of the phone is acting
irrationally, or being rude, don't lower yourself to their level
by reciprocating. Treat everyone with respect and you will be
respected in return. Plus, you never know when someone's just
having a bad day, and they happen to be taking it out on you
(we've all done it).
5. Don't argue with your customers
You can never win an argument with a customer. Because if you do
win, you've more than likely alienated the customer and you've
lost their business. We all know the customer isn't really
always right, but instead of focusing on what went wrong and
defending yourself, focus on how you can solve the problem or
fix the situation.
6. Honor your commitments
If you say you will answer emails, then answer them. If you
offer a guarantee, then honor it. Nothing spoils a customer
relationship faster than being promised something and not
I got a nice email last week from a client that made me realize
just how important this is. Here's what he wrote:
"Many thanks for your prompt and comprehensive reply. Your
personal interest, caring and enthusiasm is clearly apparent.
Most company owners invite you to respond and promise to reply
personally, they seldom do so ..."
Yes, it took me some time to respond to his email. But I promise
email support to all clients who purchase my 10stepmarketing
System and therefore it is important to honor that commitment.
If I ever get to the point I can no longer respond due to the
volume of requests or other time commitments, I will stop
offering this service, not just stop responding.
7. Do what you say
If you say you're going to call someone on Tuesday, call them on
Tuesday. It's as simple as that. If you want your customers to
trust and believe you, you have to follow through and do what
8. Focus on making customer relationships, not sales
The long-term success of your business rests on your ability to
make long-term customer relationships. If you sacrifice
relationships to make short-term sales, your business will be
9. Be honest
Don't exaggerate the results your product or service will
provide. Don't promise things you cannot deliver just to make a
sale. I see hype all over the web these days; everything is a
quick fix or a silver bullet. It suckers people into buying the
product, and then the product doesn't deliver. Think that
customer is ever going to make another purchase from that
business? Not likely. Be honest and direct about what your
products and services can deliver.
10. Admit when you make a mistake
No one's perfect. We all make mistakes; it's part of learning.
So when you do make a mistake, don't try to cover it up or deny
it. Just admit it and if necessary, do something to make the
situation right. Your customers will appreciate it and they'll
be more likely to stay customers.
So how does your customer service measure up? Are you practicing
these 10 steps and offering stellar customer service? If not, I
challenge you to take your service up a notch. Approach it like
Ken Blanchard and instead of just being satisfied with happy
customers, create "Raving Fans" (a great little book if you
haven't read it).
Commit to putting these 10 tips into practice. Get to know your
customers. Make them the focus of your business. It's one of the
keys to marketing success and best of all, it doesn't cost very
(C) 2005 Debbie LaChusa
About the Author
20-year marketing veteran Debbie LaChusa created The
10stepmarketing System to help independent professionals and
small business owners successfully market their business,
themselves, without spending a fortune on marketing. To learn
more about this simple, step-by-step program and to sign up for
her FREE audio class and FREE weekly ezine featuring how-to
articles, tips and advice, visit