Nobody is perfect. No business is, either. We all make mistakes, but when one involves a customer, you could be in for some costly consequences. If you’re guilty of these common – but detrimental – mistakes, it can impact your brand’s reputation. You need to commit to customer service with quick and positive actions. Your bottom line could depend on it.
#1 You Don’t Really Listen to Your Customers
Even when we think we’re listening, we’re often aren’t. Instead of listening, we’re preparing what we’re going to say. Listening – real listening – is a skill, one that’s invaluable, yet underused. Listen to your customers when they bring a problem to your attention. They’re giving you a chance to turn it around and keep their loyalty. Paraphrase what they told you, then repeat it back to them to make sure you understand the situation. That shows you’re actually listening. Don’t forget to thank them for bringing it issue to your attention.
#2 You Try to Argue with Them
This never ends well. No, the customer isn’t always right. But is it really worth the damage to your business to prove it to them? When you’re in an argument with a customer, you’re losing business and potential referrals. Also, it costs much more to gain a new customer than to keep a current one. Be polite, do what you can, and work together to find a solution.
#3 You Stick by Your Company Policies – No Matter What
Policies exist for a reason. But there has to be some built-in flexibility so you or your employees could make a justifiable exception. For example, you could “grandfather” in a long-time customer to an old pricing schedule. You may lose a few dollars at the outset, but the repeat business, reviews, and referrals you could gain would be worth their weight in gold. One note: Don’t go over your employees’ heads if they’re working with the customer. Take the employee aside, explain what you’re willing to do (and why and under what circumstances) and give them the power to do it themselves. After all, an employee who feels valued and empowered is just as valuable as a satisfied customer.
#4 You Aren’t Available to Your Customers
This doesn’t mean customers should be able to reach you 24/7. But if you’re not immediately available, acknowledge that with an “away” message and get back with them as soon as possible. Also, make sure customers have at least two ways of reaching you or your business, in case of “technical difficulties.”
#5 You Don’t Keep Your Promises
Each one of your employees represent your business, and if one makes a promise he or she can’t keep, your customer will identify the problem with your brand, not the employee. Keeping your promises is paramount to your business’ success. If one is broken, don’t make excuses – apologize and make an effort to rebuild trust with that customer. Then take whatever steps are necessary to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.
#6 You Don’t Manage Your Social Media Reputation
Nothing spreads faster than a bad review on social media. Social media is a great customer service tool, but if it’s not handled properly, it can ruin your reputation. If you receive negative feedback on your social profile, respond directly and offer whatever steps you can to correct the situation – don’t delete the feedback! If you have any concerns about your ability to handle your social media response, put someone else in charge of it.
#7 You Treat Your Employees Poorly
As mentioned before, your employees represent your business. Trust your employees, train them well, empower them, and treat them like you would your best customers. Their job satisfaction will reflect in how they treat customers and how they talk about your company to family, friends, acquaintances, and potential customers. Just as it costs more to get a new customer than it does to retain one, it costs more in dollars and lost reputation to gain and train a new employee than it does to keep a happy one on staff.
#8 You’re Behind the Times with Customer Relations Management
If you’re not already using one, it’s time to tech-up your business with a customer relations management (CRM) program. You can’t effectively listen and respond to customers these days if you’re still tracking feedback in notebooks, on sticky notes, or with random pieces of paper. There are plenty of free options available online, all it takes is a little research and a willingness to learn a few new skills.
#9 You Don’t Promote Reviews
Modern businesses can often thrive or wilt depending on their online reviews. Potential customers are always looking for businesses with consistent quality. You don’t necessary need to be the best, but you do need to have a backlog of positive reviews highlighting what it is about your business that makes you worth contacting. If you aren’t cultivating reviews, you’re going to look like a fly-by-night company next to your competitors. A 4-star profile with hundreds of reviews is going to look better than a 5-star profile with just a few. Make sure to take the time to ask your happy customers to review you; better yet, incorporate review promotion into your post-sales process with emails or other contact to make it easy!
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