Posted by: Jo Duxbury | 6 April 2009

Why poor service can help your business

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating that your business offers poor service. Rather, if poor service characterises your industry, then if you offer outstanding services, your business can stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Service is part of your company’s marketing: every touch point with your customers should reflect your brand values and your marketing strategy. These are opportunities to win customer loyalty. So why is it that so many businesses get it wrong?

Customers vote with their feet and will, more often than no, choose the stores, restaurants and other businesses where staff are pleasant, helpful, friendly and respectful.

Here are my ten quick tips on improving a business’s customer service:

  1. Smile before you answer the phone and when encountering customers in person, greet them, smile and make eye contact.
  2. Sound/look pleased to hear from/see your customers.
  3. Ensure all staff are well-versed in the products/services you offer – and train them to handle situations properly when they don’t know something (i.e. admit they don’t know (don’t make it up!) and know who to ask for the correct information).
  4. Remember basic good manners – say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ask questions (like ‘would you like a bag?’) in full sentences and politely.
  5. If you’re having a bad day, don’t take it out on the customer (it’s not their fault!).
  6. Focus on doing your job when you are at work – keep the daydreaming and social chat for after hours. Work is about your customers, not you. Take pride in your work. Be the best you can be.
  7. Be proactive and helpful. If you can see a customer looks like they need or are looking for something, go and ask if you can help before they seek you out.
  8. Never, ever do any personal grooming in sight of your customers (filing nails, applying makeup, wiping your nose with your sleeve… ). And please don’t sniff or cough, yawn or sneeze without your hand over your mouth. Especially if you are waiting tables.
  9. If a customer has a complaint,  listen to them with a receptive and concerned attitude. Acknowledge their concerns and apologise that they feel that way, before making a real effort to resolve the problem.
  10. Go a little further than you need to. Make a little extra, unexpected effort. This will surprise and delight your customer and they’ll probably tell a lot of people about it.

Any other suggestions? What excellent service examples can you cite?

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