January 10, 2017
Customer frustrations are on the rise. Their number one complaint?–no one really seems to care anymore. Customers are discouraged by poor service and expectations are low.
The market often talks of customer satisfaction, a deceptive phrase because it sounds better than it is. Would you have wanted a grade of satisfactory in school? Probably not. Satisfactory implies adequate, good enough, acceptable. Customers who are merely satisfied with your business can easily be wooed away by others who offer something better.
Your customer can tell the difference between satisfactory service and caring service. Satisfactory service is what most customers expect. This type of service focuses on completing a task rather than building a relationship with the customer.
Voicemail, automated phone systems, email and other technology have replaced the personal touch when it comes to customer service. Building customer loyalty boils down to one simple concept–C.A.R.I.N.G. The simple gesture of showing your customers that you care about them will be a welcome surprise compared to the apathy they experience elsewhere.
C = Consistent
Customer loyalty is earned. Commit to delivering exceptional service with every customer interaction, every day. Show your customers that you value their business by taking ownership of their concerns. Provide each of your customers with respect, friendliness and knowledge. Maintain a positive attitude. Deliver consistent quality and sign your work with excellence.
A = Attentive
Take time to listen carefully to your customers. Don’t rush through service or view your customer as an interruption of your work. Your customer is the reason you are there. Focus on what he or she needs and avoid distractions so you can give your customer 100% of your attention.
R = Reliable
When you make a promise to a customer–keep it. Take responsibility for meeting your customers’ needs. Project a professional image through the way you dress. Return phone calls and respond to email messages promptly. Maintain order in your work space. Be completely honest with your customers. Build your reputation of reliability through clear communications, accuracy and consistent follow-through. The way you interact with customers and do your work speaks volumes about the type of person you are.
I = Individualized
No two customers are alike. Each customer has individual needs and concerns. Pay attention to your customer’s tone of voice and actions. Learn how to respond to your customer based on their particular style. A dominant customer may seem impatient and will want to control the situation to get his or her desired results. A shy customer may need assurance and guarantees. An outgoing customer may require more “chat” time. You can build rapport quickly by learning to respond appropriately with each type of customer.
N = Notable
Word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing campaign of all. Give your customers quality service that they can brag about. Greet each customer as you would a friend–someone you are glad to speak with. Surprise and delight your customers with unexpected service such as a follow-up phone call or handwritten “thank you” note. A warm, friendly response to a complaint will exceed most customers’ expectations.
G = Generous
Look for opportunities to go the extra mile for your customers. Congratulate your customers on their achievements–when they’ve been appointed to a board, won an award, received a promotion, etc. Reward your loyal customers with a surprise “thank you” gift–a box of chocolates, gift card, calendar, etc. Be generous with your compliments about the way they’re dressed or their pleasant attitude. Learn their names and ask about their families. If you don’t have the item your customer wants, offer to find one at another location before he or she asks.
People are loyal to a business when they feel they’ve been treated well and received good value for their money. Customer service goes a long way toward pleasing customers on both counts. C.A.R.I.N.G customer service means going out of your way for customers, doing everything possible to meet their needs, and sometimes making decisions that benefit customers, even at a minor expense to the company.