Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Keep Your Customers in Five Easy Steps

By Katherine Lazaruk on Mar 08 2010 • Filed under Image Intensive

We all make mistakes in customer service. Sometimes we have a bad day and are unable to keep our emotions out of our interactions. Sometimes we simply miss something or fail to provide the level of service we've committed to, for whatever reason. We scrupulously avoid these situations, but they can happen from time to time. If you have had a bad review, you know it feels terrible.  

Part of creating and maintaining your professional image is being able to communicate well with your clients regardless of the situation. 

Here are a few simple tips to help you keep your customers when things go wrong.  

1. Clarify your policies: and communicate them clearly to your staff before you start a venture. If you make an agreement with a customer, keep it, even if your policy has changed. Be sure to find out all the details of the agreement and then contact the customer personally to explain the policy change and let them know how it will apply to future engagements.  

2. Assume responsibility: for making a mistake, negotiating badly, failing to communicate with your staff or changing a policy. If you make a mistake and must make a change, explain the situation personally to the customer and make amends if their agreements need to be changed. Offer extra value on the agreement, or an additional service. Often your recovery can win you as much loyalty as providing excellent service in the first place.  

3. Be thankful for customers who communicate: if the customer has been helpful enough to express their opinion, value it like gold! Take this as an opportunity to improve your practice. If you hear of criticism from other quarters (the grapevine moves quickly), see if you can identify this as an opportunity for recovery.  

4. Always be gracious in all your dealings with customers: show that you care! Keep a warm smile on your face if you're on the phone, as most of our vocal communication is through tone of voice. Address your correspondence personally to the customer and if you're communicating via email, write them a note in the body of the email as opposed to simply attaching a file or sending a generic 'firstname' 'lastname' header. If you engage in face-to-face interactions, smile and make eye contact. Always listen carefully and be sure to let the customer finish what they are saying before you respond. 

5. Above all, take compliments and criticism well: if a customer says something nice, the appropriate response is 'Thank you,' even if you know your business is worthy of that compliment. If they say something else, it's a signal that you have found an area of improvement. Engage with your customers so you can grow.  

Your customers have invited you to provide them with a service or product. That’s not to say that all customers are easy to deal with or are completely right about a situation, but it’s very important for you to remember that your reputation depends on how you interact with your customers; it is your responsibility to manage that interaction.  

One way to help you be your best, even in the most difficult situation, is to ask yourself, “What do you want them to say about you?” 

If you find yourself losing focus about a situation, or you feel you need to improve your customer-relations skills, be open to asking for help. There are many professionals who can give you guidance: mentors, business coaches, and fellow entrepreneurs who have 'been there, done that' are just a few of your options. 

In the end, it's easier to keep a customer you already have than it is to find a new one.

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