customer-service-smile (2)Every company knows how important customer service can be to their business. A friendly face or a little extra help can be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. With this in mind, we take a look at how we can maximise business through providing excellent customer service.

Customer service is a crucial area of business. Whether you deal with customers face to face, over the phone, online or a combination of all of these, you must ensure that whoever is representing your company is doing it in a professional, friendly and helpful manner. Every customer wants to feel valued, no matter what they are spending with your company. A customer who spends £5 with you should feel just as important as a customer who spends £500 with you.

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools at our disposal and it doesn’t cost a penny. The impression your staff make on a customer can have a lasting effect, so make sure it is the right one.

Motivated, Knowledgeable Staff

Your staff are of vital importance to your business, they are the face of your company and you need to be confident that they are delivering the service that your customers deserve. They must be very knowledgeable about the products they are selling. Knowledge is power in selling, the more a sales person knows about the product the better they can answer questions, alleviate concerns and solve any problems.

Having a motivated, knowledgeable and happy workforce can make all the difference to your business, it is therefore worth investing time and money into your staff to ensure they are happy. Try to set aside time for team meetings or product refresher days so there is an opportunity for people to raise questions, learn new things and discuss any concerns.

Consider introducing incentives and bonus structures for all the staff, not just sales staff, this will encourage everyone to pull together and work towards reaching a common goal. It can be a good way of motivating staff and creating some good team spirit.

See The Bigger Picture

The general rule of thumb in marketing is that customer retention is more cost effective than attracting new customers. It therefore makes financial sense to do everything in your power to retain existing customers and where better to start than with great customer service.

It is very easy for sales people to solely focus on targets. This can lead to them trying to sell a customer more than they need or to them trying to sell the most expensive products. However, if we look at the bigger picture, a customer wants to be honestly advised on what they really need and if they find someone they trust who is not going to oversell them items they don’t need, then they will return again and again. Building up trust with your customers is a great way of securing their future business.

Resolving Complaints

We all know the old adage ‘the customer is always right’, and we all know that this is not true.

That said, we still have to be diplomatic in these situations even when you know the customer may not be entirely in the right. Most people simply want to vent their complaint to someone who will listen, so the best thing to do is to listen to them, find out what it is they are upset about, apologise for making them feel unvalued as a customer and then take the necessary steps to resolve the problem.

Most customers will be placated if their issue is dealt with quickly and efficiently and they feel they have been listened to. Aim to leave an unhappy customer in no doubt that your company values their custom highly, this will go a long way to ensuring they will remain as one of your customers. A well handled complaint can turn what would be bad word of mouth press into a real positive for your companies reputation.

Gaining The Edge

Try to think creatively to gain the edge over your competitors. You don’t always have to lower prices or introduce offers to do this, by providing a better environment for customers to shop in you could secure their business over your competitors.

Consider offering your customers something to drink when they arrive in your store. You could offer hot drinks in winter and refreshing water or juice in the summer months. This is not only a thoughtful process to introduce that your customers will enjoy, but it is also a great way to strike up a conversation and build a rapport and it will also keep your customers in your store for longer. The longer they are there browsing or discussing your products, the more likely you are to get a sale. And the next time they need to buy something they will remember the service they received in your store and hopefully return.

Take advantage of seasonal opportunities

Christmas is a great time of year to make your customers feel special, consider offering them a small wrapped gift when they make a purchase, have Christmas sweets on offer or send out cards to a list of all your existing and potential customers, this is a nice touch and it will keep you in potential customers minds.

Use company ‘birthdays’ as an excuse to promote your store, hang balloons and banners and offer customers and passers by birthday cake or a glass of bubbly (don’t worry it doesn’t have to be champagne!) Contact you customer database and let them know about your celebrations and entice them down to your store with promises of cake or a one day special offer on certain products.

At the end of the day you want to make each and every one of your customers feel special and to do that you must surpass their expectations of customer service. Do this and you are guaranteed good customer retention and great word of mouth recommendations.