Give Great Customer Service by Treating People Right

Treat your customers rightBad customer service is a result of bad management. Let your employees treat customers right and they will be delighted.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve walked into a restaurant or store and just become disgusted by the way I was treated.

Now don’t start jumping to conclusions; I’m not one of those finicky customers who wants everything to be just so. It’s just that I decided that I am not going to put up with anybody who is rude and disrespectful.

One of the reasons why so many small businesses struggle for years is because even though their product might be good, they’re lacking in customer service.

People aren’t loyal to modern décor and comfortable furniture; people come back because of how you or your employees made them feel.

So you can hand out free juice, tea, coffee, candy or back rubs, but if they are greeted (or not) by a mean and surly worker who looks like his face would get a heart attack if he smiled, chances are they won’t return.

Bad customer service is a result of bad management. You might think this statement is unfair, but let’s be honest: who hired the meanie? And even if you are a terrible judge of character and ended up being impressed by the wrong person, it’s no excuse for not observing him or her to determine if they are cut out for the job. The moment you spot a bad attitude you have options for dealing with it: educate or fire. A rude employee will cost you customers.

That’s precisely one of the main reasons why you should avoid hiring friends or family. It compromises your commitment to offer good service. After all, who would dare to fire their best friend’s kid? One businesswoman I know received constant complaints because of her mother-in-law’s disrespectful attitude. As a favor to her husband, she had put the elderly woman at the front desk of her day spa. Needless to say that many potential clients were turned off by her coldness.

So if you’re really serious about getting and keeping loyal customers, pay attention to these pointers:

Make sure regulars are greeted cordially by name. It has been said that the sweetest sound to anyone’s ear is the sound of one’s own name. In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie says that “the fundamental act of calling other people by their name puts you solidly on course to establish a sincere relationship with that person.” One note of caution: be sure to get the name pronunciation right!

A smile goes a long way. I’ve always wondered how some people can say “good morning” and make it sound like a bad thing. A greeting needs to be accompanied by a smile in order for it to feel sincere. Once I walked into an office and the person at the door hissed such a fierce welcome that it was actually kind of offensive.

Be good to your employees. Even though your business might be financially tight for the first few years and you might not be offering the juiciest salaries, be sure to make your employees feel respected and valued. People tend to believe that a low salary is an excuse for impoliteness, but the truth is that employees who feel appreciated are nicer to customers in spite of the financial limitations.

Don’t try to win. Arguing with customers is usually a waste of time. It’s a lose- lose situation. Recently I was being charged $60 for a service I had already paid for in cash. The invoice said that I had requested to be billed later. I nicely told the attendant that I had already made the payment, but I couldn’t find my receipt.

A few weeks later I returned and found that the problem still remained. I spoke to the owner repeating my story, but I had still not been able to find my receipt. After a few minutes, he sighed and told me he would take my word for it and eliminate the charge. A few weeks later I found my receipt and was able to prove that I had indeed made the payment. Imagine what would have happened if the owner had not believed my story? I can tell you this much: I would have taken my business elsewhere.

Be as accommodating as you can. A cosmetologist with a small clinical practice kept getting calls from men requesting pedicures. Although she was qualified and had the equipment, she stubbornly turned them down and suggested that they go to the local beauty shop. What she didn’t understand is that had she opened that door, she would have expanded her tiny business because a lot of men aren’t comfortable with the idea of going to a beauty parlor to get their “nails done”.

Stay current. Study similar businesses close by and make sure to stay on top of your game. Don’t be afraid to make changes and adjustments if it means your customers will benefit.

Always remember that the best marketing strategy is word of mouth. As long as you keep your clients happy and satisfied, they’ll repay you by spreading good news about you.

About the Author

Dinorah Blackman-Williams‘ books may be previewed and at www.lulu.com/blackman. You may also read her articles on her blog in Spanish and English.

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