The A to Z of Customer Service

Follow these alphabetical tips to provide high quality service, along with a dash of fun for customers.

A to Z of customer service

A: Anticipate: Plan ahead for possible snags. Do you need extra staff on a busy weekend? Is rain predicted the night of your outdoor event? Will you have enough merchandise for the upcoming sale? Anticipating problems saves you headaches later on.

B: Balance: Maintain a balance between your personal and professional life. It’s easy to get so caught up serving customers you forget to take time for personal relaxation and recreation.

C: Creativity: People are looking for more than dull, ordinary customer service. Be creative in signage, programs and special events. Many businesses offer customers a chance to get their picture taken with Santa. Why not offer pictures with the Grinch?

D: Donate: Foster positive community relationships by donating products or services. Offer a free monthly swim pass from your athletic center to silent auctions or community fundraisers. Offer to loan your extra display units to an elementary school planning a reading festival.

E: Exceed: Exceed customer expectations. Do that tiny bit of extra service that leaves people with the feeling of, “Wait till I tell my friends what happened at that bank!”

F: Fun: Doesn’t everyone want some humor in their lives? Add elements of fun for customers. Give a box of chocolate to every 25th customer signing up for an account. Hold raffles for gag gifts. Have staff dress in costumes for various events. Offer half price admission to your theater or bowling center if people wear pink or white on Valentine’s Day.

G: Go Green: Many people want to do their part for the environment. Provide recycling bins. Sponsor a recycling carnival where you use empty cans, newspapers and egg cartons to construct carnival booths.

H: Help: Help your staff have a positive attitude. Your smile and upbeat personality helps them cope with the stresses of the day.

I: Innovative: Take a risk and try new things. Encourage staff to give input about registration or ordering supplies. Their new ideas might provide better customer service.

J: Juggle: Expecting extra long lines? Hire a professional juggler to teach juggling skills to customers if they have to wait in line at your business.

K: Knowledge: Even though you feel there’s never enough time, try to learn some new skills. Read a book on something besides your particular field. Take a class in an area that’s new to you.

L: Leadership: Often, the leader of a department determines its success. Develop your own style of management. People see when you are sincere, instead of trying to imitate Colin Powell.

M: Memory Making: Does your business cater to families? Some families have limited time together. Do what you can to create a time of positive memories for them. Offer small rewards to children with good grades. Offer discount tickets to movies or skating centers.

N: Novelties: Many people love getting small key chains or notepads from businesses. Pass out novelty items as a fun way to let customers know you appreciate their business.

O: Organized: If organization isn’t one of your strengths, get help fast! Customers immediately notice when a business is organized. Make checklists, have supplies on hand and have a back-up plan.

P: Pretend: Pretend you are a customer. See things from a customer’s point of view. Eat the hotdogs sold in the snack bar. Stand in line to open a new checking account. Better yet, ask your mother to pretend to be a customer. She’ll certainly tell you where you need to improve!

Q: Quality: Customers expect high quality when dealing with your business. Return phone calls and e-mails within 24 hours. Handle complaints in a professional manner. Provide a small bouquet of flowers in the bathrooms.

R: Resourceful: How can you stretch your staff training budget? Ask Toastmaster groups to lead a session on public speaking. Ask a local high school for the decorations after their prom. You’ll get great themed items to use to decorate your business. Set up a display about your business at community events.

S: Surprise: Add that unexpected element of surprise to your customers. Call them by name. Thank them for participating in past programs. Send them a birthday card.

T: Training: Ongoing training is essential to keep staff motivated. Use role playing and small group discussions at staff meetings. Invite a customer to share their personal experiences, so staff has insight into customer’s opinions.

U: Unique: What makes your business unique? Is it the quality of staff? Extra clean restrooms? Unusual facilities? Low cost? High cost for quality service? Find something that makes your programs stand out from the rest.

V: Versatile: Try cross-training staff so they become more versatile. They’ll also gain an awareness of the various duties required to keep the business running smoothly.

W: Why? Ask yourself why customers would want to do business with you. What can you offer that your competitors can’t?

X: Xylophone: Learn to play the xylophone so you can perform at staff meetings. (What did you expect from the letter X? Install a coin-operated X-ray machine?)

Y: Young At Heart: Don’t forget inter-generational marketing possibilities. Grandparents enjoy spending special time together with grandkids. Plan a tea party for grandparents and grandkids when you open a new branch office or have a special sale.

Z: Zany: Let loose and get silly at times! Customers enjoy seeing your staff with a light hearted attitude. It is possible to be professional and also have fun.

About the Author

Silvana Clark is a writer extraordinaire and presents workshops on improving customer service.

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