People prefer to do business with people they like, so building rapport and establishing a good relationship with your customers is one of the keys to profitability. What are you and your organization doing to develop an outstanding rapport with your customers? Here are a few ideas. See if any of them will work for you.
- Remember and try to use your customer’s name. Dale Carnegie said that the sweetest sound in any language is the sound of your own name. Customers like the attention that comes when you remember their name or voice on the telephone.
I am a loyal customer of a local dry cleaning business because the person who waits on me most of the time knows my name! I am impressed that out of all his hundreds of customers he has taken the time to remember my name.
- Work hard to solve the customer’s problems on the first time. Don’t pass it on to someone else if there is any way that you can answer their question or get them what they want. In my customer service training classes, I call it the “hot potato pass off.” You want to solve the customer’s problem without any further hassle on their part so they will do business with you again. If they have to work through several layers of supervisors, or rules and regulations, they will quickly take their business elsewhere.
- Stay in touch. On a regular basis, you should have some kind of contact with your customers. It could be a mailing, a newsletter, a telephone call, a coupon good for a discount or anything that reminds the customer that you are still “there.”
A carpet cleaning firm does a good job of this. They send a quarterly newsletter filled with facts about how to keep carpets in good condition, plus other valuable information. They make customers feel that they have their interests in mind when they send the newsletter.
- Follow through. Always do what you promise you will do and do it in a timely manner. As the saying goes, “Under promise and over deliver”. If you promised to call back in 24 hours, make it 22. If you promised to send something, do so. Show up for the service when you say you will. Customers remember lack of follow through more than anything.
- Empathize. People want to do business with companies that they feel understand their problems. When a customer is unhappy about a product or service, agree with them! Yes, agree with them. Say something like, “I’m so sorry you are unhappy with our product, Mrs. Smith. I would be unhappy if that happened, too.” It’s hard to get mad at someone who is agreeing with you. Then go on to say, “Let’s see what we can do to solve your problem.” That’s what will develop a loyal customer. Even if you can’t give her everything she wants, the way you handle the complaining customer will either make or break that relationship.
So, how would you rate yourself and your organization? Are you doing these things really well? What else can you do to cement relationships with your customers?
I share powerful Customer Service tips and insights for front line managers and employees on how to deliver customer service to keep your customer coming back. The name of the game is customer loyalty and it’s not just about satisfaction. It’s about a willingness to be a repeat buyer, willingness to recommend you to others, and resistance to switching to a competitor. Fortunately I learned this lesson through my 15-year corporate career. Poor service is an all-too-frequent experience for us all. I provide a framework for implementing ongoing processes that can build customer loyalty.
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