Around the time we celebrated our 25th anniversary in business at the same location here in Royal Palm Beach, we were asked a number of times the secrets to running a successful business for so long. And although there are a number of contributing factors to any business that has been around for 25 years or longer, there is one reason that rises above all others: consistently superior client service.
One of the many rewards that come from excellent client service is being able to contribute to the overall success of your client. A great example of this happened when we were asked to help create an internal performance poster that showed each department of a major hospital how they were doing in reaching their goals for customer service. We created the design, made a prototype and delivered it to the marketing director on time and within budget. The CEO of the national hospital corporation made a surprise visit to his office the next day. The performance poster made such a great impression on the CEO that our customer was rewarded with high kudos for a great design and implementing the outstanding customer service they want to be known for. That customer is still a happy customer with us today.
Next level customer service is something we are very proud to offer.
Superior Client service starts even before “Hello”… and continues long after the sale
You must recognize that Client service starts even before anyone in your company ever makes contact with a single client or prospect – it begins with the corporate culture that the owners and management follow and then instill in every employee from their first day at the company. If you believe the responsibility for great client service only lies with your sales people, you are making a terrible mistake that will consistently lead to you losing customers who could have been converted into long-term, loyal clients.
Once the right culture and training have been established, client service moves to the initial contact with your prospects; whether that’s in person, on the phone, or via email. In all of these situations, using good people skills will increase the chances for a positive first impression. For example, saying hello with a smile to a Client who just walked in the door will invite that person in and make them feel welcome. On the other hand, when an employee doesn’t acknowledge the client, it makes them feel like an inconvenience. That negative feeling doesn’t get the Client in a buying mood, and it will most likely turn them away from ever coming back to that particular store. At Print It Plus we greet every single person who walks in our front door.
If the employee is utilizing good Client service on the phone, the initial greeting will be courteous. This helps to make your client feel at ease and more apt to move through the phone call in a positive, productive way. This is a much better circumstance for your client instead of leaving messages on answering machines, never getting any returned phone calls, or trying to extract some product information from an uncaring employee.
Obviously, good Client service goes beyond their first contact with you. When helping Clients choose the right product or service, answering their questions or assisting them with their needs are great examples of going the extra mile. This kind of service establishes good will, and it’ll eventually lead to loyal Clients. Even if that person doesn’t purchase anything at that time, the good shopping experience will bring the Client back again.
Consider how you’ve been treated whenever you are the Client. If you’ve ever had a bad experience with a company, you know that it’s not easy to forget the encounter. Perhaps a clerk was too busy stocking shelves to help you pay for your items. Maybe there wasn’t anyone around to answer your questions or help you with some additional information. Or on the phone you sit on hold for many minutes, and then get passed around from person to person because each one of them says your question or issue is not their responsibility. In any of these instances, the managers or the owner of the store rarely are notified of the poor Client service. Instead, the people that do hear about the negative experience are many of the Client’s family, friends and business associates. Especially with social media, word travels very fast when it comes to communicating negative experiences to the world. It might not be “10 times as fast” as the old cliché suggests, but it is definitely much faster – and a much broader audience seems to pay attention.
When dealing with clients, sometimes there are situations that need to be resolved. If the Client is upset about a product or service they’ve received from the company, the first thing an employee should do is to listen. By taking the time to hear through the entire complaint, it shows the client that you care. Occasionally, the issue is actually not related to your company at all, but the initial problem is merely a catalyst for that person’s frustration about other things. Either way, attentive listening will break down that barrier and begin to build a bridge to fix the situation. Usually, discussing different options will then bring about a positive outcome for both sides.
Good Client service leads to many benefits. Not only will you gain trust with your current clients, they’ll also become a wonderful referral system as they spread the word about your business to other prospects. Especially with any internet business transactions, product reviews are quite common. Whether it’s positive or negative feedback about a product or service, people are writing freely about their shopping experiences. In the long run, treating people fairly and with respect will bring business to your company today and in the future.