By Sandra Taylor-Sawyer: Everybody’s business
Several years ago, I purchased an item, and within a matter of weeks, it malfunctioned. Upon contacting the business, the item was serviced but malfunctioned again. This scenario of repair-malfunction continued for weeks.
Most folks who know me will say I am a patient person; it takes a lot to get me excited. But when I do, I am determined to find a solution. Which is what happened in this incident; the outcome was a win-win for both sides. That business will have me as a customer for life.
As we approach the Christmas season, it is wise to have a refresher course on customer service. This does not always mean compensation; it translates to excellent service.
The small-business owner is in a better position to achieve customer satisfaction than many large businesses because the owner utilizing a small staff of employees can deal directly with the customer to immediately make decisions.
Excellent service is the result of a genuine ethical feeling — not a gimmick designed to achieve a goal. It is important that the owner ensures that everyone hired has an honest attitude of service, and the structure and operating procedures of the business are designed to provide customer satisfaction.
The person who sells the product must not be allowed to promise more than can reasonably be delivered. Failure to deliver to the level of customer anticipation will result in dissatisfaction.
A common and popular practice that employees perform is to converse on a phone while assisting a shopper on the floor or at a check-out counter. On occasion it may be a customer on the line, which is unavoidable.
Personal cell phone use that includes texting and chatting leaves a customer feeling that the sales associate was inattentive and rude, not concerned about their purchase. Repeat sales may be lost. A small-business owner should have guidelines regarding this practice.
A potent competitive tool is to maintain a high standard of customer service. Remember customers are willing to pay extra or go out of their way for good service.
Acknowledging all customers when they enter a business is a positive means to have them feel welcome. The employees may be assisting other customers, but it is necessary to let the newly arrived customer know they are appreciated.
Excellent service must be an integral part of the marketing plan and budget. In most businesses, more than 50 percent of sales come from repeat customers.
It is estimated that more than 90 percent of customers who are dissatisfied will never buy from the company they are disappointed with and, even worse, will tell at least 11 people about their negative experiences.
Attracting new customers usually costs many times more than keeping an old one. Excellent service is a worthy goal and “smart business.”