Are customers important to your business? They sure are to mine. If you find them to be important, I suggest reviewing the details of your customer service touches, process and ability to help customers as needed — even if that means working outside of the normal channels.

5 Customer Service Tips:

1. A business owner/supervisor/manager/employee cannot be too busy to handle customer service related issues.

We are all very busy, but it’s time to get over the “I’m too busy to help just one customer” mentality. We have to remember it takes less time to work on existing customer service needs then to find new customers to use your product or service. If the owner is available, have him or her resolve the concern. Customers rate working directly with the owner much higher than another employee, even if that employee is a manager. It makes them feel important and valued. However, when the owner is on vacation or unreachable, the employees need to have permission and feel empowered to handle customer service problems to resolve the issue and make the customer happier quicker.

Business owners and employees need to be able to think outside the box to make customer service special. Each business and industry have rules they need to stick by, but there are times that it is more important to go outside of or bend the rules in order to make up for a mistake in order to make your customers feel heard and happy.

2. As an owner, it is important to lead with good customer service.

Customers like to know you’re actually listening to them. If they have a good suggestion, let them know. Tell them you’ll bring it to your team and possibly implement the changes they’ve suggested. Give credit to your customers where credit is due if you make a change based on their needs and requests. Fox example, at Benjamin Franklin, The Punctual Plumber, we added regular Sunday services a few years ago after several of our customers told us they couldn’t take time off during the week and needed to use our services on the weekend. We listened, we acknowledged, we acted, and we thanked our customers for helping us better understand their needs.

3. Customers don’t care until they know how much you care.

Customers want to be heard, and they want to be understood. Listen more than you speak. Make sure the customer has said everything he or she wants/needs to say before you interject. Once it’s time for you to speak, begin with, “I heard you say X, Y & Z.” This ensures that you understand what is at the heart of the customer’s frustrations. It’s not always a refund that they want; sometimes they just want to be heard. Relate to them. Use phrases such as, “I understand your frustration, you’re right,” “It is a hard position to be in,” etc. Make sure to keep your tone in check. How you say what you say is often times more important than what you actually say.

4. What to do if things go wrong:

Be patient. Give the customer time to talk and share. Acknowledge what happened. Don’t defend it. Be honest, upfront, and thank them for bringing the issue to your attention. More importantly, let them know that the entire team will be informed regarding the issue, regardless of what the issue is and what actions you plan on taking. Be sure this mistake doesn’t happen again; and if necessary, re-train employees on tasks or treatments, depending on your individual industries.

Don’t just get things back to normal. Go the extra mile. Do something special like send them to dinner or a movie, buy flowers, give them a gift certificate, etc. — depending on the severity of the mistake.

5. Stand behind your guarantee.

How do you feel when a company or organization states a guarantee only to give you an excuse on why it’s not met or avoided, then ignored when your opinion was not held up?  When your guarantee is not held, the reputation of your company declines, and customers no longer feel they can trust your product or service. Sometimes as human beings we have a tendency to focus on the negative, and every good thing you’ve ever done for a valued customer can go out the window with one grave mistake. If guarantees aren’t held up, everyone is at risk of losing their company’s growth, current customers and potential employees if there is no revenue to pay their salaries. Bottom line: If a guarantee is offered, it must be held up.