Protect your reputation with outstanding customer service
And even when your business does define good customer service it doesn't mean you're always going to keep your reputation intact. One of the most notorious breakdowns of customer service occurred in February, 2007, to passengers aboard the Jet Blue flight who were stuck on the JFK tarmac for nearly 11 hours before Jet Blue finally decided to cancel flights due to weather.
Horror stories still circulate two years later of conditions aboard that flight. And in one fell swoop, the gold standard of airlines got a great big black eye from which they've had a difficult time recovering.
Creating a business that will define good customer service takes constant vigilance and commitment.
Take American Express, for instance. Year after year, Amex consistently tops the "10 Best" companies for customer service. Amex customers even overlook the fact that they have high rates because they provide great customer service . . . with a real person on the other end of the phone. On the other end of the spectrum stands AOL. In the number one spot on MSN Money's 2008 "Hall of Shame," a remarkable 47 percent of people who had an opinion of AOL's customer service rated it "poor."
That's a hard number to argue with.
So what separates the excellent from the not-so-great when it comes time to define good customer service?
Well, here are some things you can do to develop extreme customer loyalty based on great customer service.
Get to know your customer.
Building a relationship with our customer is an important part of customer service.
Ask them what they need from you and from your business, and then deliver it.
Do a customer survey and find out their hot buttons. Let them know you value their opinions and value them as a person.
Courtesy is key.
No matter what, you and your employees must always be courteous, polite, and friendly to your customers and clients.
When anyone in your business is rude or discourteous, it reflects on your entire company.
Then your customer tells all their friends about the rude behavior and you lose a lot of potential business.
Develop a customer retention program.
It's tough to find new customers and clients. So once you do, give them consistent TLC.
Maybe it's giving them a few minutes of your time gratis, or a gift certificate to a restaurant for making a referral. . .Or a free product or service after a certain number of purchases.
Even something as simple as a thank you note does wonders for customer retention.
Put some thought into how you can reward your customers for loyalty.
41. Do your daily and weekly homework and stay current on all aspects of your product or services.
It's important to try to stay one or more steps ahead of your clients' current business considerations. By focusing on your clients' interests, you can begin to develop a knack for anticipating their needs on a regular basis. Also, when you're meeting a new client for the first time, try to gather as much intelligence as you can for that first pivotal meeting.
Here's an example. One of my clients set up a meeting with "Fred," a new client of his who had been the righthand man of a now-deceased power broker. My client prepared for the meeting by reading a book by Fred's deceased mentor, so he could use a phrase or two that would ring true with Fred, the new man in control. My client's strategy paid off and he got the new business!
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