Top Priority

Make Customer Service Your First Priority

by Jo Ann Joy

You can improve customer service by finding ways to meet most customer needs promptly - and providing some level of service even when you cannot meet their needs..

This all boils down to what you have heard many times before—listen and express genuine concern when customers have a problem.

When you cannot give customers exactly what they want, suggest options and alternatives so they will see that you want to help them.

Your service is being evaluated every time customers or potential customers have contact with you.

Be sure that all of your staff knows how to make the customers feel welcome, important, and respected. First, they must be greeted politely and courteously. Learn customer’s names and call them by name.

Customers need to be treated fairly and with respect. Be sure your staff knows how to suggest alternatives when they cannot meet the customer’s needs.

Customers want to be educated and informed about your products and procedures, and they want you to be understanding, friendly, and fair. Remember that your customers' needs will vary according to their individual personalities and according to the nature of your business.

In one setting, they may want fun and safety, and in another setting they may want accuracy. Be sure you understand what your customers expect from you.

Also, don’t forget that your customers include anyone with whom you have dealings. This includes vendors, delivery personnel, phone calls, employees and co-workers. Your customers can be external or internal.

External customers are the people you deal with who buy products or services from you, vendors delivery personnel, and callers. Your internal customers are the people who work inside your company, but they still receive services, products, and information from you.

The relationship between internal customers and external customers is what determines the level of customer service you provide. Everyone in a company plays some part in fulfilling the customers' needs.

All day you are providing something for somebody either inside or outside your company. Also. The way you treat your employees has a direct relationship with the way they treat the customer. Treat your staff as if they are important customers, and do whatever you can do to make their jobs easier.

Once you treat external and internal customers courteously and fairly, you will set the stage for maintaining loyal customers. Remember the 80-20 rule that says that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers.

It is much more important to build customer loyalty than it is to go after new customers. It costs significantly more money to attract new customers than it costs to maintain existing customer relationships so there is a substantial payoff.

Take extra steps to be sure customers return to your business. Send them reminders or notices of special sales. Give them incentives and discounts for repeat business. Find out what your regular customers buy and keep those items in stock.

You may be able to increase sales by add other items that complement the items your regular customers buy. Be sure that your service is dependable, timely, and reliable. If you have a delay, apologize immediate and offer to compensate customers for the inconvenience.

Remember both internal and external customers. Treat all customers with courtesy and fairness. Try to build customer loyalty and find ways to encourage your customers to return. The value of good customer service cannot be overstressed. 


About the Author

Jo Ann Joy is a strategic business attorney and the CEO and owner of Indigo Business Solutions. (Indigo Business Solutions http://www.indigobusinesssolutions.net/) is a “one stop shop” for businesses. We differ from other business consulting firms, because we offer legal and business counseling. We work with our clients to create value and gain competitive advantage.