Customer service is all about keeping customers satisfied. The most effective path to customer service satisfaction is spinning the traditional service model from reactive to proactive. Instead of responding reactively to dissatisfied customers, reach out proactively to ensure that they start happy and stay happy. By preempting potential dissatisfaction, you're already ahead. Give your customers top quality products, but don’t stop there. Build a relationship. Build trust and loyalty and you will also build profit.
Anticipate Your Customers Needs
The best customer service involves not only a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s needs, but also the ability to translate that understanding into anticipatory action.
Think of your relationship with your customer like a personal relationship. If you send your girlfriend flowers on her birthday, she will feel loved and appreciated. By anticipating her unspoken desire for this affectionate gesture, you send a distinct message of caring and connection. However, if she has to remind you that it’s her birthday and ask you to send her flowers, she is likely to feel taken for granted.
Similarly, if you anticipate your customers' needs, they will feel supported. Business expert Micah Solomon calls this “Get to them first” customer service. Get your customers what they want before they even know they want it. Then - just like your girlfriend - they will feel taken care of. The reward for that warm and fuzzy feeling is their loyalty to your company. Build upon that loyalty by continuing to be there with what they need. If you deliver great results consistently, trust will follow.
As in so many facets of life, communication is key when it comes to customer service. Stay in touch between customer visits to share updates or reminders. Follow up promptly after a transaction. Respond immediately to any problems. Keeping customers informed takes minimal effort, but that level of attention leads to appreciation and a level of dependence.
Carry through on the “get to them first” philosophy by becoming irreplaceable. Remind customers of their upcoming needs. Depending on your business, that could take the form of reminders about medication refills or bills that will soon be due. Offer access to new services or products that may be helpful or interesting to them based on their prior activity.
If you successfully anticipate a customer's needs, they should never have to ask for anything. You’ve taken care of it already, just like a seasoned valet.
Great service is advantageous to both the customer and the vendor. A well-served customer will be loyal to your brand and ideally provide positive word-of-mouth advertising on your behalf, in the form of praise and recommendations. Brand loyalty equates to consistent sales and increased business. Great customer service leads to loyal customers and long-term relationships, which translates to increased profit for your business.
Photo courtesy of 89Studio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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