Over the past couple of weeks I have been amazed by the ongoing lack of customer service by so many businesses that I have come into contact with.

Make your first impression the right one

Firstly, I requested quotes from a number of virtual assistants to supply help to a client of mine whilst they were going through a particularly busy period.

One that I contacted did not respond at all and another came back with just a one-liner that they could do the work.  Not a good first impression!  If that was the standard of work they sent me I certainly wasn’t going to let them loose with admin for my clients.  Only one replied with a fully prepared proposal and price and suggested a phone conversation so that she fully understood what was required and to ensure she would be a good fit.  I chose this lady as during our conversation, she was honest in what she couldn’t do but said she would do her best to learn anything new if required to do so.  To me, this showed enthusiasm and a desire to work with me.

 

Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them. – Kevin Stirtz

 

Be crystal clear on your service and what you can offer

I then phoned to get quotes for social media support for a client from a number of companies.  One passed me through to their social media ‘specialist’ who took what seemed like forever to find his notes on what they could offer and at what price.  He then could not clearly explain the service and upon questioning had no idea what he was talking about. No sale!

The next waffled on forever and ended up asking me what I thought they should put together as a package and at what price.  Hang on.  I thought I was phoning to find out what they could do for me, not for me to give them business advice.  No sale!

Another went into a barrage of sales spiel but was rabbiting on about social media channels wholly unsuitable for my client.  He didn’t ask one question about my client’s needs and gave me no opportunity to explain them.

 

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” – Roy Hollister Williams

 

Don’t make promises you cannot keep

Next I went to order some items from a website but had a query on another product they had for sale.  I phoned and left a message as their answerphone promised a call back within an hour.  No return call was forthcoming so I then emailed and again received no response at all.  Needless to say that I deleted the items in my shopping basket and purchased them elsewhere.

I then had another purchase to make and ordered an item for next day delivery but which did not arrive for 48 hours.  This really irritated me and I complained to the company.  If they had said delivery in 48 hours my expectations would have been met and I would have been a satisfied client so why did they promise me something that could not deliver?

 

 Make a customer, not a sale. – Katherine Barchetti

 

Exceed expectations

Finally, I made one more purchase that stated 5-day delivery yet turned up in 3 days.  Even though this item turned up one day later than the promised delivery time of the first company, I was over the moon as they had exceeded my expectations.  Just be honest with your customers and don’t set out promises that you can’t keep.

It is no use going to the time and expense of promoting your business only to throw away enquiries and valuable customers when they try to buy from you.

 

Here is a powerful yet simple rule. Always give people more than they expect to get. – Nelson Boswell

4 key tips to satisfying customers

So my key 4 tips to satisfying your customers are:

  1. Create the right first impression. Whether it is via email, phone call or face to face, when someone gets in contact for the first time, ensure that you create the right impression to gain their business.  Be professional, take an interest in their needs and listen carefully to what they actually want.
  2. Be clear on what you can offer. First and foremost, make sure that both you and every single staff member know what you offer and can explain this clearly when asked.  If you can’t, you will lose your prospect from the outset.
  3. Set expectations and then live up to them. Be clear on your pricing policy, terms and conditions, delivery and anything else relevant to the sale.  Make sure the customer is clear on these and set their expectations accordingly.  Don’t make promises to gain the sale that you just cannot keep.  It will do you more harm than good in the long term.
  4. Under promise and over deliver. Wherever possible exceed customer expectations so that they remember you for all the right reasons.  With the apparent lack of customer service with so many companies, you are highly likely to stand out from the crowd and gain long term customer loyalty.

 

Do you have a customer service story to tell, either good or bad?  Please leave your customer service experience story in the comments box below.

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