Nuts and Bolts: How To Do Customer Service

by Trish

Most folks think that good customer service requires a large room full of staff trained to just answer the phone. Um, if you’re running a small business, that just is not feasible, and totally unnecessary.

You can have a fantastic customer service department, even if it’s just you in the office. Here’s how:

1. Your phone message should be pleasant, inviting, welcoming folks to leave a message. Once they do leave a message, you need to call them back. One of my clients has a toll-free number that rings to his cell and he answers it 24/7, no questions asked. Sure, you say, if I don’t want to have a life. Well, this guy makes a lot of money. His company offers a very good service, further complimented by a live person at any time of day or night. If your customers need to reach you, well, you’ve got to be available.

2. If you don’t answer the phone, find someone who will. If you’d rather not haul a phone with you everywhere, then you need to hire someone to answer that phone, especially if your business relies on customer service. If you offer plumbing, or if you are an electrician that relies on service, well, that phone is your lifeline. If you don’t want to do it, you need to find someone to do it. They can cover the hours you can’t cover (overnight, weekends, etc.).

3. Try to solve the issue within an hour. If a customer just needs info on how to do something, deal with it immediately. If they are experience a tech problem, try to fix it ASAP. If it’s something that requires more time, explain that and promise to keep them updated.

4. If you can’t resolve an issue within half a day, then you need to have some sort of token ready.
A free month of service, a discount on products, a waiving of the service fee. Something that says to your customer “Hey, you’re important to us!”

5. Once you’ve resolved the issue (whether within the hour, that day, or even a month later), send a thank you to your customer for letting you know about the problem. This can be a simple handwritten thank you note, or another token of your appreciation, say a promo for their next purchase, a discount off an upcoming service, something that shows your customers are worth a LOT to you.

Trust me, it goes a long way. And in this economy, it’s the companies that appreciate their customers that will survive and prosper.

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