You can have every product that anyone could possibly want, but if you don't treat your customers well, you can kiss your business goodbye! Numerous studies have shown that it's much more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep existing ones, so it's vital that your business focus on making customers happy.
Stay in Touch - Let your customers know you value their business by reaching out. Newsletters, postcards, individual letters, phone calls, and emails are all effective ways to deliver news about products, special promotions etc. Encourage customers to sign up for these communications and make sure you have permission before adding anyone to an email list. Invite them to contact you with questions, feedback, or to discuss additional requests. Focus on letting customers know that you can solve their problems and meet their needs.
Make Great Service a Priority - Excellent customer service requires training that constantly reinforces the message that customers always come first. Start with the little things, such as a standard way of politely greeting people on the phone or online. The best way to ensure that your staff will treat customers graciously is to set the right example. If you do things the way you'd like them done, that will be more effective than lecturing or criticizing.
Store Collective Wisdom - Set up a system for responding to customer inquiries or complaints. The last thing you want is for your employees to provide inaccurate information, or quote policies that may not be achievable. Problems should be resolved during the initial customer contact, or within one business day at the most. If more time is needed, let customers know -- don't leave them hanging.
Empower Your Staff - There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than encountering a frontline company representative with no authority to help solve a problem. Where there is no policy -- and occasionally in cases when the policy needs to be flexed -- you need to empower certain people to make decisions, use good judgment, and be flexible with the rules. Ask employees to document these special cases. Depending on the size of your operation, you may want to designate one person per shift as a problem-solver.
Know Your Customers - A formal method of tracking your customer interactions will help you identify your best customers, as well as those who have stopped visiting your business and need to be lured back. Simple Web-based customer relationship management software applications can help you do this. Simply enter each customer's contact information and notes about their transactions. CRM software lets you sort this data or analyze it to uncover useful information.
Manage Customer Relationships - Everyone loves special treatment. Once you have established a track record and some history about your customers, you can begin to identify and reward your most valuable ones. Perhaps you can offer a special discount or make a follow-up call to those who have needed recent repair work. There are many imaginative ways to reward customer loyalty.
Use the information you've gathered to make customer service a science. Provide a quality experience and complete satisfaction, and they'll keep coming back for more.