Did you know that it costs 10x more to replace a customer than to keep them? Yet most companies spend 80-90% of their advertising budget on gaining new customers. That just seems counter-intuitive.
Customer Service is all about habits: determining the bad ones and practicing the good ones until they become second nature. In honor of National Customer Service Week, here are some Dos and Don’ts when it comes to your customers so you can keep them coming back, every time.
DO be present.
Your customers should be the focus of your day, not an interruption. We all have hectic work days, but if a client takes the time to call or e-mail you, it’s because THEY perceive it to be of vital importance and the client is YOUR top priority. Remember, every e-mail and phone call is a way to either cultivate or corrode a client relationship. Which would you rather it be?
If you messed up, you should apologize, but use a different phrase. “I’m sorry” is what we were forced to say as kids when we were caught doing something we weren’t supposed to do. Sorry is negative, problem-oriented, and is typically followed by excuses. Instead, try “Thanks for bringing that to my attention” or “I apologize.” Other key phrases to avoid include: “I don’t know,” “That’s not my job,” and “I can’t.” Instead, try using these customer-focused phrases: “Let me find out for you,” “I will personally take care of that,” and “Here’s what I CAN do.”
DO focus on the individual, not the company.
You may be trying to land a deal with a big company, but you’re doing it through a person. That person is the company’s spokesperson, so sell to them and the company will likely follow.
DON’T bypass an annoying client.
If you go behind a client’s back, you will create an enemy for life. Trust me, you don’t want that. As hard as it may be, work with your client to resolve any issues and build a relationship moving forward, rather than working against them.
DO put connection first.
Clients want you to genuinely care about them. Take the time to build a personal connection and you’ll see your business relationship grow as well. Did your client mention they are going on vacation? Ask them how it was when they get back. Does your client have a kid looking at colleges? Ask them how the process is going. Oftentimes they’ll just be impressed that you took the time to remember something they mentioned. (Hint: Write it down if you’re likely to forget.)
DON’T mistake apathy for loyalty.
Haven’t heard from your client in a while? Don’t assume they’re so blissfully happy that they don’t need to talk to you. You can’t fix what you don’t know, so check in and see how things are going. They’re more likely to let you know something you need to fix if you are proactive about your relationship with them.
Your goal is to ensure that you provide your client with what they need and the only way you can do that is to listen to what they have to say. Your client doesn’t know what they need? Be prepared with questions to ask your client about their company and industry so you can better understand what they’re looking for.
DON’T badmouth your competition.
You want your client to see you as a professional and only insecure people try to build themselves up by putting others down. Explain to your client why you are the best fit for them, but don’t do it at the expense of your competitors.
It’s more important to be consistently good than to be stellar on one or two occasions. Errors in your work will erode client trust in you and your company so be on top of your work. Always proofread your e-mails and reports so that you convey professionalism every time. No client likes to read a report full of typos and run-on sentences.
What do you think of these simple rules to build great client relationships? Have you found something that works well for you? Let me know in the comments!