Customers are vital to any company that wants to be successful in its respective industry. Customers validate the value of a company’s products or services by expressing demand for its offer. The more sales that occur, the more growth that company experiences. There is more that goes into this formula, though. A company must provide high-quality products along with excellent customer service. This means an organization’s customers must be shown appreciation in order to retain existing customers and acquire new customers. Without these two actions occurring, a dissatisfied customer base will eventually make it impossible for growth to occur.
The problem that many organizations face is taking its customers for granted. The belief seems to be that once a customer, always a customer. This could be no further from the truth. Customers are constantly analyzing and judging the company when interacting with its employees and receiving the service or using the product in question. The process before and after the sale is just as important, if not more important, than the sale itself. Customers will either suspect they are only viewed as a source of revenue or they will appreciate being seen as valued members of that organization.
It is not hard for them to tell the difference between the two, either. Bad customer service is one of the main reasons why many organizations are finding it hard to retain customers. These companies’ business models are not necessarily to blame for their underperforming sales. The problem that occurs is that they do not know how to provide a friendly experience to delight and retain their customers.
Companies now operate in a time where any little negative experience can result in a major fallout due to how connected customers are today. Customers are gathering feedback from each other to know which companies to spend their money with and which ones to avoid. If an organization has too much negative feedback, it will find its efforts in trying to build a loyal customer base going to waste. Therefore, creating a culture of friendly customer service needs to be the focal point of any organization that wants to develop a loyal customer base of frequent buyers.
This type of culture is built from within and acted upon by owners and executives who walk the talk. It has to be demonstrated that words are not enough when it comes to serving customers. The actions put forth must also be consistent with the spoken words in order for consistency to be developed. The executives within an organization must have the same attitude for the importance of their customers as the front-line employees are trained to have. If a consistent attitude is not held by all within the organization it will be reflected in the inconsistent treatment of customers. This type of embarrassment can be eliminated by installing the importance of impeccable customer service in each and every person who works within that company. Every member of that organization should be focused on ensuring that the customer’s experience with their organization is nothing less than excellent.
Promoting friendly customer service from within will not only raise the level of service administered to customers, it will also create a more friendly environment for an organization’s employees. This positive energy amongst employees will, in turn, ensure that their friendly demeanor when dealing with customers will come across as natural, rather than seeming forced. This is very important if the intent is to make the customer feel as if they are being truly served by the company, rather than just being sold a false image in order to get them to spend their money.
An example of a company that truly provides great customer service is Chick-fil-a. The consistent manner in which this organization treats its customers is consistent across the board and the same within every restaurant a customer visits. Their employees are always smiling, friendly, and warm. Management can be found on the front-line helping to place orders and bag food when the restaurant is packed with customers. The ingrained culture of pleasing the customer is the staple of this company’s success, which has a very loyal customer base.
If an organization wants to have this same type of success, it will need to follow 6 principles that will develop a culture that is dedicated to providing friendly customer service.
1) Treat Customers as Valued Members
There is a different level of service that is administered when customers are viewed as valued members of an organization who are to be respected, rather than just sold to. There needs to be a focus on not only meeting the customer’s needs but exceeding them. This commitment to treating customers as valued members will elevate the customer service of the entire organization because a mandate has been set that must be met. Sincere questions need to be consistently posed to customers to gather valuable feedback about how they feel about the business. It should never be assumed that they are happy simply because they pay or keep on buying more because assumptions will lead to unforeseen surprises. By remaining connected to the customer, information can be gathered about where improvement can be made in order to increase their satisfaction with the business and its products.
2) Know The Customer’s Needs and Provide what is Wanted
When an organization truly connects with its customers as valued members, it will gain better insight into how to provide the best products or services. This is not only great for increased sales, it also shows customers that their happiness is the main priority. By giving them exactly what they need, the appreciation they will demonstrate for their needs being met is their committed loyalty. They may even become enthusiastic advocates of the organization and its services. This enthusiasm can only be created when the high value is being administered to the customer, starting from their needs, moving on to their wants, and even on occasion surprising them with a warm gesture of goodwill.
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3) Smile, Continue the Conversation and Rectify the Problem
No organization is immune from having complaints being brought up due to some particular issue that a customer experienced. Rather than arguing and trying to prove the customer wrong, immediately correcting the problem should be the goal. Turning a complaint into a big conflict will only lead to the company looking bad in the public forum. This is especially true in these times of viral tweets and Facebook posts, which may amplify any bad customer review, regardless of whether it’s true and how bad it was. This may quickly lead to a negative perception of an organization being formed, which could have been avoided by simply satisfying the complaint with a smile. Smiling will help to diffuse any anger that the customer may have. Also, make sure that you do not cut the customer off when he is relating his problem. Provide a listening ear and show the customer that you really want to solve his problems. Ask questions and continue the conversation – a calm back and forth when interacting with the dissatisfied customer makes it easier to reach an amicable resolution so that no ill feelings are left lingering.
4) Make Eye Contact, Smile, Express Gratitude
Providing personable service is a must for all companies that interact directly with its customers. Today’s customers understand the power they hold since there are numerous other competitors that are willing to provide excellent service for their hard-earned money. All members of an organization should make direct eye contact, smile, and be friendly when greeting a customer. This helps to make them feel welcome, which will be an incentive for them to make a purchase. If a purchase is made, that customer needs to be shown appreciation and gratitude. “Thank You” and “Please Come Back Again” are words that must be said after every purchase. Gratitude should even be taken a step further by sending emails and postcards thanking customers for their loyalty. This lets customers know they are seen as valuable members, rather than just being dollar signs.
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5) Make it an Experience
Customers should walk away from an organization feeling like they have received the best experience they have ever had as compared to any other company they have dealt with. It does not take a lot to provide this high level of service. By simply being attentive the customer’s needs, having warm and friendly interactions, and providing a valuable product or service, an organization will have no problem winning a customer’s loyalty. This kind of experience is not difficult to achieve and can go a long way in producing consistent, positive results.
6) Reward Loyalty
The best way to show customers how appreciated they are is to reward their support. Offering discounts, special offers, and deals are some of the ways to reward customers. Extending such offers shows that their continued patronage has not gone unnoticed, which illustrates how important they are to the company. The benefit of doing this is retaining existing customers and increasing sales, so both sides win.
Customers are too important to an organization to be ignored and mistreated. There are too many other competitors willing to step up and provide excellent service for customers who are dissatisfied with their current provider. Therefore, it is absolutely important that an organization provides friendly service. Forgoing doing so will result in a company that has a hard time retaining and gaining customers. If the goal is to develop a company that is poised for long-term success, the customer must be an important focus within the proposed strategy to achieve continued growth. Providing customers with the best product possible along with friendly customer service will produce great results for any company focused on securing long-term customers.
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