What you offer to customers is important. But how you offer it might be even more critical. 76 percent of customers stop doing business with a company after only one bad experience. That’s why it makes sense to develop a culture of customer service among your staff. How they treat customers will determine whether you have a one-time sale or a lifelong buyer. Here are some tips to help you create a culture of superior customer service in your small business.
Take a look at your business’ mission statement. How many times is the word “we” used? Words like that focus on what you get out of it, not what it does for customers.
For example, “We are the leading solution for HVAC systems in the four-state region.” Turn that around to be more customer focused. “Our customers look to us to improve the efficiency of their heating and cooling systems and save money on their energy costs.”
This may seem like a small change but it can shift the way your staff thinks about their job. It sets the expectation about what they’re being hired to do.
You wouldn’t hesitate to capture an employee’s attendance record on their performance evaluation. But are you also evaluating them on their customer service skills? Making it part of their permanent record sends the message that service is important.
While it’s the employee’s job to deliver good service, it’s your job to define what that means. Be specific about what you consider “good service.” For example, the customer should be greeted within the first 30-seconds they enter the store. Since you don’t want everyone to bombard the customer at one time, your staff needs to work as a team to accomplish the goal.
Don’t wait until performance time to give them feedback. Some business owners use a quick five-minute staff meeting at the beginning or end of the day. It’s your chance to praise a customer champion or identify problems and coach towards a solution.
Whether or not you think the customer is always right, your employees still have to deal with the difficult ones. But they don’t have to do it alone. Consider a team approach to dealing with challenging customers.
It starts with training your staff. For example, acknowledge a mistake or restate their understanding of the problem. But it should also include knowing when to get help. If you intervene, acknowledge the staff member’s efforts and move forward. The idea here is that you’re working as a team to help resolve the issue. It’s part of that service culture you’re trying to create.
Part of this approach is supporting fellow employees after a difficult situation. It’s a chance for staff to acknowledge the situation, express empathy, and give them a break. Knowing you can rely on others for support helps develop team unity.
Customer service isn’t a value-add. It’s a core part of your product or service. That’s why it’s important to create a culture of first-class service among your employees. Start by considering these tips.