“The customer is always right” is a popular expression you might not agree with, but the survival of your business is closely tied to the quality of customer service you provide.
How can your business provide better customer service?
1. Develop a culture of treating customers well.
It is important that you and your staff always present the right attitude to customers. From the gate or front desk of your business, customers must be shown respect and treated like welcome guests. This begins with creating a customer service policy to guide employee behaviour toward customers. A good customer service policy should include instructions for greeting customers, handling their complaints, measuring their satisfaction and following up.
2. Listen first.
People want to be listened to and your customers are not an exception. Never, ever cut a customer off. Be patient enough to listen to complaints no matter how long they are and ask for clarification just to be sure customers express themselves thoroughly.
Listening also applies to non-verbal conversations with customers. When handling customer service with messaging apps such as WhatsApp or on social media, let customers finish before offering a solution.
3. Be more human.
Good customer service is often dependent on the quality of the communication between your business and your customers. While politeness is important, automated responses and an unnecessarily formal or stiff tone tend to make customers uncomfortable. Never treat all customers like they are the same person. Be friendly and sensitive to individual needs, and respond to enquiries on a case-by-case basis instead of giving generic answers.
4. Always provide useful and simple information.
No matter how responsive you are to your customers’ needs and enquiries, if the information you provide is too complicated or not useful, you cannot help them.
Every communication to your customers should be useful to them and easy for them to understand without asking further questions.
If your business has a website (yes, you need one), create an FAQs (frequently asked questions) page. Your FAQs page should provide details of your business operations that customers need to know in a question and answer format, with answers that are simple and clear enough for your customers to understand immediately.
If your business does not have a website (or if you are responding to customers in real time), the same rules apply: the information you provide must be relevant to a customer’s immediate need and clear enough for easy understanding.
5. Don’t make promises you cannot keep.
Failing to keep your promise is a quick way to lose your customers. It is always better to give a realistic time frame for resolving issues, no matter how long, than to give a shorter time and take longer. No one likes to be let down. Don’t build a culture of disappointing customers or you will soon have none.
6. Do more than is necessary.
Customers love businesses that do more than is required of them and extend their services beyond “business as usual.” Following up after solving an issue, providing drinking water in your reception area and sending birthday cards are a few ways to show the caring side of your business and set it apart from your competitors. Never forget that the little things count.
Margin delivers local insights, practical advice and resources to help Nigerian entrepreneurs build and maintain profitable businesses.