Creating a culture of service within your organization is vital.
All business happens as a result of relationships that are created between you as the supplier and your client or customer.
A good provider-consumer relationship takes time to build and maintain, but can bring valuable returns to your business.
Relationships are vital to get right, regardless of the size of your company, or how many people you employ.
Let me give you an example.
My cat needed to go to the vet but I didn’t have the time to take him, or a cat box to transport him in, so I called a local vet who I had been told provided a pick up and drop off service. I was a bit nervous about the idea, but within an hour of my call, a polite and friendly young man arrived at my house, correctly equipped, to collect the cat.
He took the time to listen to my concerns, and then drove the cat off for a day in the hospital. It was an expensive service (especially since the cat showed no signs of ill-health once he arrived at the vet), but the next morning the vet himself called to enquire after the cat.
On the bottom of the invoice, the vet had listed his bank details so that I could make my payment by electronic transfer. I made the payment and thought that would be the end of it, but within half an hour of me transferring the money, a lady from the vet’s office called to thank me for the payment and asked how the cat was doing.
The vet provided a premium service at a premium price, but everyone I dealt with was polite, friendly and efficient. The vet, his receptionist and the man who came to collect the cat all took the time to connect with me as the customer and create a relationship that will encourage me to come back. They made it easy and convenient for me to pay, made the effort to know the cat’s name, and gave me an opportunity to give them feedback by making a follow-up call.
The easier and more convenient it is for your customers to use your service, the more repeat business you will create for yourself.
Customers will stick with you because they have been impressed with your service in the past. However, this does not mean that once you have created the relationship, you can fall back into old habits and assume they will continue to come to you anyway.
Once you have created that relationship with your client, it is more important to maintain your level of customer service. If you do not continue to meet their expectations, not only will they take their business elsewhere, but they will tell all their friends, your potential clients, when they have had a bad experience.
Always call to follow up with a client. Giving the client an opportunity to give you feedback helps the client to feel valued, and will create a sense of trust with you as the provider.
Whether the customer has given you positive or negative feedback, always respond in a polite and professional manner. Warning: if they are being nasty to you, don’t sink to their level! This just fuels the fire and gives them more reasons to give you negative feedback. Remain calm and polite throughout the exchange.
This vet has gone the extra mile and created a customer service culture in his business. Make sure you go the extra mile too.
About the Author
Lyn Glendinning writes for The Insight Institute – a teaching and training organisation, based in Gaborone, Botswana. The Insight Institute are committed to empowering individuals and organisations through our Dynamic Speaking and Communications Strategies programmes, and value the relationships we build with clients.