While we are all taught to make our customers our priority in business, do we as a rule offer the same service to the consumer who only frequents our store during the holiday buying season, or do we make exceptions and bend further to the left or to the right when it comes to mitigating bad customer experiences depending on the customer or how much they have spent? If we listen carefully, we learn what our customers need because they will tell us either directly or indirectly, and in order to engage new customers, we often depend on word of mouth and our reputations.
Excellent service creates loyal customers for life; customers who are willing to refer your business to friends, family and colleagues. Providing this type of excellent customer service starts with a genuine desire to delight your customers, but you also have to think beyond selling your products or services. You need to consider the cumulative experience your customers have when they visit your store or website, what they think and feel, and what you can do to make it better. In order to provide better service to the consumers, you need to know what you’re selling, inside and out. Make sure you — and all of your customer-facing staff — know how your products or services work. Be aware the most common questions customers ask, and know how to articulate the answers that will leave them satisfied. Similarly, Listening is one of the simplest secrets of customer service. Listening means hearing what your customers are saying out loud, as well as what they are communicating non-verbally. Watch for signs that they are displeased, while listening to what they say to you directly.
But… no matter how great our products or how efficient our service, fate somehow finds its fickle finger sooner or later and just goes awry; it’s how we handle all of this and how our customers are made a priority that maintains customer loyalty. If 60% of customers tell their friends of a bad experience, 31% share their experiences on Facebook and other social media, and 20% write reviews, we definitely need a positive service recovery when our most sophisticated technology fails to remedy a customer’s displeasure.
As businesses pinpoint that lucrative 20% of the high volume buyers, recent studies also show these are the customers willing to spend more, and are extremely knowledgeable and more interested in sophisticated technology bringing them better solutions for superior service. Common sense drives companies therefore to focus on those passionate, engaged, and sometimes obsessive customers who contribute to a larger share of the profits. We listen to them, and we learn. We separate them from the 20% who spend their time complaining, and the rest of the buyers who occasionally stop by our stores or website during the high shopping seasons. Although we still offer reward programs, we tend to give them little personal attention nor do we tailor our better services to their individual needs.
While most organizations try to assure everyone that customers are their priority, it’s hard to persuade most of us that customer service was born equal.