I would have thought customer service would have been really easy for most people to do well. After all, it’s all about treating people how you’d like to be treated! However given some recent contacts I’ve had – both with disgruntled customers from other websites, and also people I’ve personally shopped with – it seems that customer service is something that is VERY easy to fail at. And so… here are some quick pointers:
1) Smile when you answer the phone.
People can tell when you’re smiling even if they CAN’T see you. Express how you feel on your face and they will hear it in your voice. So when answering a call – smile, and it goes without saying… if handling a complaint look sad. They’ll hear the sincerity.
And please don’t whisper to other people, fail to cover the mouthpiece / put people on hold when you’re talking about them… or – have a customer service patter that everyone is using and that customers can overhear being churned out to another customer on another phone in the background. These “once in a life time deals” don’t sound quite so hot when the person on another phone line is being offered exactly the same deal!!
2) The customer is always right – even when they’re wrong!
It’s an old adage but it’s a good one. Empathise with your customers. Listen to their complaints, say “I’m sorry to hear you feel that way…” and all the rest of the stuff you’re supposed to say in response.
It’s hard to give a good example of good practise… however, take for example a customer who is struggling to use the website. Not because it’s unclear, but because they just aren’t reading things properly , or their software is outdated – don’t just turn around (as I’ve seen one website do) and say to them “Well 10,000 other people have managed this – it must be you.” Email them with an offer of calling them to iron it out… find out where they are experiening the problem, try to make things easier for them, offer to email them information / post it instead of allowing them to struggle on the website. We always go the extra mile with our customers – and if they have a problem (even if it’s at their end not ours) we will try do do everything we can to make it easier for them or fix it for them.
And… bonus… if you listen to them, who knows – they might be able to offer some suggestions that WOULD make things clearer for everyone – after all not all of us are super techno-geek geniouses !
3) If the package doesn’t arrive – and it isn’t your fault – offer them a replacement or a refund anyway!
If you’re an on-line company and you ship (as we do) then despite the cock-up being in the Royal Mail – legally it’s YOUR responsibility to ensure the parcel gets to the customer on time. Believe me… I’ve spoken to trading standards recently about this as I’ve had a bad experience with a firm who refused to refund me for some items I purchased. After several exceedingly RUDE emails from them, saying that I should have contacted them earlier and that it was my fault – I spoke to trading standards and they assured me that I was right – they should either refund or repost the item.
At Red Herring Games our policy has always been to refund or resend items that go missing in the mail. I thought that was common decency – but apparently we’re fairly unsual, and this isn’t standard practise across the board.
The quickest way to irritate your customers and get a bad reputation is to fail to deliver the items they’ve ordered. Yes it might not be your fault… but it is YOUR responsibility to get them there! Claim any mistakes made back from your postal company if they’ve lost the item and DON’T take it out on your customers!!
4) Do something extra they aren’t expecting.
We all like freebies and free gifts. When we post out our printed kits we always toss in a packet of sweets. It’s only pence, but we’ve had so many people come back to us to say thank you – just because of that. Sweets are a simple, cheap way of giving something extra back to your customers.
If you go wrong… send out something as an apology. Mistakes happen in any business, but if you apologise on the phone and then send out something as a sorry as well – your customers are really going to appreciate your sincerity – and trust me… they’ll be back.
5) Thank them for the business
Sounds like a simple thing to do, but few companies do it. Pop in a compliments slip with a “Thank you for the business” in with anything you post. If you have the time to handwrite one then all the better. If you don’t – many printers will print you up one that looks like you’ve handwritten it.
If it’s a big order – then why not follow it up with a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers? A big gift will give your company a second mention – and it promotes loyalty to a brand too.