You want to build a reputation as the best. But doing great work is only half the battle. You need to improve your customer service skills to make sure your clients walk away feeling like they made the right choice. It may sound stressful, but it’s key towards growing your business!
Read the tips below to learn the best ways to maximize your client interactions and improve your long-term business prospects.
Benefits of Great Customer Service
While great customer service is a reward unto itself, it has tangible benefits for your small business. By improving your customer service, you can help:
Referrals are essentially an individual showing enough trust in you to put their own reputation on the line. Most people won’t refer their friends or family unless they know you’re trustworthy. Even if you’re good at what you do, it’s treating the client right that cements their trust in your work ethic and your company.
Small businesses live and die on referrals. Anything that helps you turn your happy customers into free advertising for your business is a huge benefit, especially when you’re just getting started!
Like referrals, a repeat customer is tough to earn but worth every bit of effort it takes. The important thing to remember is that it’s not just the quality of your work that will bring people back to you the next time they need your services. You want them to know that you’re easy to work with!
Repeat business helps you build connections and gives you the possibility of predicting future income. For contract work, that can be a huge relief! More importantly, a repeat customer is almost guaranteed to sing your praises in their own circles, generating even more referrals for you.
Building Trust in Your Community
The fly-by-night contractor or business is a common worry when anyone starts their search for someone in the trades. In most communities, the two easiest types of tradespeople to find are the most reputable and the most notorious.
When you do your best work and follow it up with your best customer service, you can help generate online reviews for your business. While it’s rightfully hard to get work if you’ve been repeatedly named-and-shamed in your community, it can be just as difficult when potential customers are left guessing at your quality. You need reviews. Turning out positive reviews consistently will quickly establish your name as a trustworthy one. It also helps mitigate the damage from the occasional, and often seemingly inevitable, bad review from someone who had unreasonable expectations from the start!
How to Improve Your Customer Service
1. Communication Is Key
Great customer service begins and ends with communication. Whether the job went smoothly or hit a few bumps, the ability to speak with your clients will make the difference when they choose who to hire next time.
You don’t have to be a professional speaker to communicate well. Focus on these three things, and everything else will mostly fit into place:
Be Clear – Don’t forget that many of the people you complete work for won’t understand industry terms or other information. Make sure to explain things in a way that they understand and don’t try to be vague about issues or concerns.
Be Concise – You’re busy. They’re busy. Don’t let complicated explanations get in the way or make your customers feel overwhelmed. Practice explaining what you do and how you do it in a way that’s comprehensive but avoids unnecessary details. Follow-up by giving them an opportunity to ask questions.
Be Honest – This seems obvious, but it’s so core to great customer service it’s important to mention. Being honest involves more than not lying. You can’t omit the truth when you identify an issue or run into a snag. Honesty will trade short-term convenience for long-term respect, and that’s worth a lot when your name is on the line.
The last part of proper communication is to excel at documentation. Thorough documentation benefits you and your customers. You’ll have references if there’s an issue after you’re done, and they’ll know the scope of work that you completed. It can also help you make small talk with repeat customers, which can help build rapport.
2. Be Proactive
As the expert, you have insight that those coming to you for help won’t have. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions or make recommendations based on your knowledge. In many cases, your recommendations will make the job easier for you and prevent your customer from walking into a disaster.
Being proactive shows your customers that you’re confident, knowledgeable and ready to do your part as the expert for a given job. If you wait until they have questions or concerns, even if you have the right answers, it won’t look as good as if you handle them before they’re a problem.
Likewise, if you run into an issue while working, don’t just ignore it! Alert the client, give them their options and your recommendation, and let them make the call. This goes back to the importance of communication.
3. Be Empathetic
No contractor will retire without their fair share of bumps in the road. Whether it’s the job, a problem client or an unforeseeable issue completely outside of your control, you’ll run into a major hiccup eventually.
Don’t let pride blind you to legitimate criticism! When the person who contracted you comes to you with a complaint, it’s rarely to be malicious; they had an expectation that wasn’t met. Work with them as a team to come to a solution.
4. Be Flexible – When It Makes Sense
Rules are important, especially for safety and security, and this is true for customer service. Having policies and plans in place helps you and your employees provide consistent service to all of your customers. However, these guidelines should only be considered a starting place.
You can convert customers into repeat customers by finding ways to go above-and-beyond for them. In many cases, these extra efforts won’t mesh with hard-and-fast rules, which is why it’s important to be flexible.
When it makes sense, consider that losing an extra hour or a few dollars on one job can help guarantee future business.
5. Remember to Follow-Up
Few things are as rewarding as putting the finishing touches on a job and calling it a day. But that’s not where customer service should end!
Follow-up is important to ensure your client is satisfied with your work and to help establish a reputation for caring about your craft. Repeat business is clinched through effective follow-up.
Reach out a week or two after completion to find out if there are any issues or concerns. Better yet – if they’re extremely satisfied, use this time to request an online review!
About Adrian Steel
Adrian Steel manufactures contractor-grade products and storage solutions including shelving, drawers, cabinets, partitions, ladder racks, aluminum toolboxes, and accessories. Beyond manufacturing, our dedicated Customer Care Team and a network of highly qualified distributors can have your vehicle upfitted at a location convenient for you – at the factory, out of dealer stock, at your place of business, or through a bailment pool.
Plus, upfits installed by an authorized Adrian Steel distributor are covered for a full 3 years or 36,000 miles.
Find a distributor near you to get started today!
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