What would you do if you were out with your family for a very special occasion – at a ‘pay through the nose’ restaurant – and when your daughter politely asks for an additional bread roll, the waiter replies, “one is enough for you”.
This happened to a mate of mine and prompted him to open a business teaching Aussies to give good service, no matter what the industry.
Customers want to be treated in the manner to which they are accustomed. The old adage, ‘the customer is always right’ is crucial to strengthening the trades/customer relationship. It’s also damn useful for making bucks.
So here are 13 tips to ensure your service sparkles:
- Speak to customers – be cheerful and smile at people – frowns use 72 muscles while a smile takes 14! Where possible, call people by their name.
- Listen to your customers to find out what they really want from you and then do things the way customers want them done.
- Train your staff to treat your customers in a manner that you want them to be treated.
- Make sure your customer knows what product or service you provide so they know exactly what they are getting from you.
- Handle customer complaints with care and concern. Make sure they feel their business is important to you. Fix up possible mistakes and let your customer know you have (see below).
- Always return phone calls to customers.
- Have a policy for telephone service and make sure it’s carried out by everyone in your organisation. Service involves the way the telephone is answered, the speed of response to a query and all aspects of contact with the customer.
- Always turn up on time for your customers. If you are in the trades, or provide a service and you know you are going to be late delivering that service, call the customer and explain the reasons why you will be late.
- Make sure you are always your customer’s first choice.
- Don’t make promises to customers that you can’t keep.
- Add value. From time to time, and within budget, provide your loyal customers with extra support or rewards.
- Ask your staff and your customers what kind of service they would like and try to find ways to put any of these suggestions into practice
- Remember that there is consumer protection in Australia (the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and fair trading legislation) and the last thing your business needs is to be in a court or tribunal for deceptive trade practices.
Of course, these words of wisdom seem so obvious, but all too often both owners and employees fail to separate their own personality from their business. This can be fatal!
Playing the dutiful servant for a million dollar account is easier than smiling at a whinging customer who keeps changing his or her mind. Copping it sweet, however, and, even copping a smaller profit on one job, could get you such good references as an understanding type, that you will more than make up the losses from the client from hell.