How to Establish Customer Service Standards for Your Business

customer service standards photo

If you haven’t already, you need to establish customer service standards on how you expect your employees to treat your customers. A three-step meet, greet, and leave with a smile program is easy to implement, effective, and sustainable and will help you grow your small business.

  1. Every customer/employee interaction should start with eye contact.  Ideally, acknowledging a customer within three seconds of his/her arrival. Eye contact should be followed with a smile and friendly greeting.
  2. If you (employee), are busy with another customer, let the new arrival know that you will be with them as soon as possible. If the wait is likely to be more than a few minutes, let them know that also. The last thing you want to do is get off on the wrong foot by making a promise you can’t keep.
  3. The third piece of this simple three-step customer service program is to end every customer encounter with a friendly parting statement — “Have a great day!” “Enjoy the rest of your day.” “Enjoy this great weather we’re having.” “Tell your friends about us.” Whatever you say needs to be friendly and sincere and end the interaction on a positive note.

It’s Part of the Job Requirement

The secret to the success of this customer service program is to impress on your employees that following through on the three steps is as important as any other job requirement. Right up there with arriving on time, and calling in when sick. Implement this simple meet, greet, and leave with a smile program and your customers will feel more valued and appreciated almost instantly.

Conflict Resolution is Key

Another important piece of your customer service standards is conflict resolution. Customers usually complain because something has gone wrong with regards to the purchase of an item or service. Something that has left the customer feeling cheated, slighted, unappreciated or wronged.

You can greatly minimize the damage that can be inflicted by a disgruntled customer by ensuring that rudeness, delay, inattentiveness, miscommunication, and apathy are never a part of the equation.

Respond Quickly to Social Media Reviews

Today more than ever it is important to resolve complaints quickly, leaving no doubt as to how much you value the customer’s continued business. Dissatisfied customers are quick to tell the world, via social media, how unhappy they are with you and your company. And don’t imagine for a moment that no one is listening to their negative rants. Many potential customers go online to read customer reviews before selecting a product or service. Do all you can to ensure that your reviews are positive and reflect the customer service standards that you and your employees are proudly exhibiting.

Before any of your employees encounter their first customer, make sure they know and believe that your customers are:

  • Your biggest asset and the most important people in your company.
  • Not dependent on you, you are dependent on them.
  • Not interruptions to your work. They are your reason for coming to work.
  • Doing you a favor by giving you their business. You are ensuring loyalty and repeat business when you do your best to attend to their needs.
  • Sensitive, with emotions and feelings that are influenced by events in their lives that you know nothing about.
  • Not stupid, and nothing can be achieved by trying to match wits with a customer.
  • Deserve your pleasant, polite, and undivided attention.
  • Have wants and needs that you can fulfill.
  • Are worthy of your appreciation, not your contempt.

Happy Customers Tell Their Friends!

Customer service standards should be designed to not only keep your current customers happy but also bring new customers in through word of mouth. Customers are much more likely to spread the word when they have had a negative experience.  They will also publicly praise a business where they feel welcomed and valued. Make customer service an integral piece of your overall business initiative and remember to keep it simple.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

For more valuable articles to help you successfully manage the challenges of growing your business profitably, please search our blog at our website www.portalcfo.com.

How to Compete with a Big Retailer

compete with a big retailer

How can you compete with a big retailer when you’re a small business? What should you do? This scenario may sound familiar:  You’re one of the good guys. Your customers like and trust you. You offer quality products at reasonable prices. You’re a valued member of your community and active supporter of local charities. Life was good. Then you received the news that the dreaded BIG RETAILER is moving into the neighborhood. The prospect of dealing with this competition has you feeling nauseous and thinking of throwing in the towel.  Relax. It’s not over yet.

Let’s face it. You always knew this day might come and at this point, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve prepared for it or not. What matters is what you do going forward. When it comes time to compete with a big retailer, you need to be flexible, willing to embrace change, and keep an open mind as to what your business might look like in the future.

We all know what big retailers add to the mix—cheaper prices, lots of choices, and convenient parking. You might not believe it, but having to compete with a big retailer when it comes to town isn’t a bad thing. Ideally, it means that all the vendors in town, including you, will get the opportunity to sell more products. When a big store joins the neighborhood, they’re stating that: “This is a profitable business location, with plenty of potential customers, good traffic flow and opportunity for growth.”

Before we get into how to make lemonade from lemons, we need to make sure all the ingredients are at hand. Your first task is to have a clear understanding of your business.

  • What are you actually selling and to whom?
  • Do your customers visit as much for the atmosphere or ambiance or your store as for the products you offer?
  • Do your customers value charm, tranquility, or vintage décor?

Profile both your business and your customer base in detail. Next, consider the things you can do better than the big retailers:

As a small business, you can:

  • Be Flexible! You can be more flexible, nimble, and energetic. You need to figure out how to leverage your agility.
  • Find Your Strength. Emphasize what makes you special, distinctive or unique. What is the one thing you can do better than anyone else?
  • Find Your Niche! You can’t be everything to everyone. That’s the realm of the big retailer. Instead, find your niche and focus on it.
  • Customize. Offer customization or specialty products, think obscure but valued. These are areas where the big guys falter.
  • Be better. Have a hook. Offer a handful of items that are cheaper, faster or more outstanding than what can be found elsewhere.
  • Spot trends. You can cash in on trends and fads faster than the big stores. They have complicated relationships with suppliers, a board of directors, and investors to consider. Their large staffs, budgets, and customer base affect their ability to take risks and draws out the decision-making process. Whereas, small businesses have the agility to circumvent obstacles, change direction, make new plans, and take advantage of opportunities without considering what will happen to huge inventories sitting in warehouses halfway around the world.
  • Excel at customer service. You can also outperform the big retailers in customer service. No need to wait for a manager’s decision, you are the manager. As an owner/operator, you deal directly with your customers, local charities, clubs, and peers. Make the most of one on one encounters and networking opportunities.
  • Enhance your customer relationships. Your customer base is the most important asset you have. Find ways to communicate with them and keep your products, specialties, and sales in front of them. This can mean flyers, direct mail, a website, phone texts, Facebook page, Twitter, email, newsletters, local newspaper ads, etc. Be sure to track what works best for which products!
  • Get tech savvy. Today’s shoppers value convenience. Make sure you can deliver what your customers need, in-store, online, or by special delivery. And keep it simple.
  • Consider partnering with other small businesses to increase your buying power and diversify your inventory.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

For more valuable articles to help you successfully manage the challenges of growing your business profitably, please search our blog at our website www.portalcfo.com.