As I rested in the leather chair in my dentist’s office, the massage component kneaded my back. I was watching Flea Market Flip on HGTV. Outside, the rain poured down and the thunder blared. Bolts of lightning flashed across the sky. All of a sudden everything went dark. (Just my luck!) The dental technician entered the room with a flash light to check how my temporary crown was setting. Never in a million years would I fathom this happening – a loss of power in my dentist’s office. Thank heavens it happened after my procedure had been completed. However, in about 5 minutes, the power returned. Now all I had to worry about was getting to my car without being drenched.
As I checked out, I was handed a beautiful red carnation and an umbrella. “Thank you so much,” I said,” I’ll return the umbrella on my next visit.” “Oh,no. That’s yours to keep,” responded the office assistant . We keep a supply of them for these unexpected bad weather days.” As I dashed outside protected by my new umbrella, I thought, “I have just experienced the ultimate in customer service. This office gets it.”
Have you ever analyzed your customer service habits or are you just in business for the money? I once worked with a very talented design professional who said to me , “The way I look at it, the customer’s money is better in my pocket than theirs!” Needless to say, she’s no longer in business. If you are more focused on how much money you can get out of your customer than how you can satisfy them, you are not going to succeed. The customer always comes first. Like my dentist’s office, any successful business will analyze every step of the customer experience and be proactive rather than reactive. To prevent your competition from attracting your customers, you not only have to meet the clients’ expectations, you have to exceed them. How can you do this?
How to Improve Your Customer Service
1. Put yourself in your customer’s place. What surprises can you create to make their experience more enjoyable? “If you list your home with me, you will get a free one-year home warranty.” “Let me stage your home and I’ll redesign a room in your new home for free.”
2. Look at your pricing and see how you can make purchasing from you more appealing. Make sure you offer single services as well as packages. If they purchase several services, offer a discount. Offer a monthly special with a powerful “call to action” and expiration date so they act quickly.
3. Find out what your competitor is doing to attract and retain customers and why they are doing so. Think about ways you can top what they are doing. Do a thorough Google search for products and services that you sell in the geographical location you cover. Research the first five businesses that appear. Check out their websites, social media pages, and directories where they may be listed. Sign up for their newsletters to see what specials they are offering. Is there anything they’re forgetting to do which would make your service a better option? Think about all of the UMBRELLAS you could offer! Is there another service you could offer or another area of expertise you could learn which would make you a more valuable resource to your clients? This is where your unique selling proposition and niche client come into play. If you are a realtor, could you become a distressed property specialist or a senior specialist? If you are a designer or home stager, could you get a certification in color, kitchen design, or senior moves?
4. Remain in touch with your customers so they keep you top of mind when they need a service you provide. Send birthday cards. Start a blog and send them informative articles. Start a newsletter or e-newsletter and send it to them monthly. Do an article on a service and then offer a monthly special on it. Include a referral incentive in your newsletter. Do a feature article on a customer – a hobby they have; a special design arrangement they have made; a home they have purchased. Customers love to be recognized. Sponsor a charitable event or get involved in one. My dentist buys back Halloween candy – $1 per pound up to a $2 limit from each patient for a specific period of time and sends the candy to the troops. For real estate agents and designers, what about volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or another worthy cause?
5. Stay current on your industry’s trends. Take training; attend conferences and trade shows; join professional industry associations. Make sure prospects know of any specialties you have. Include them on your website, in your social media profiles, and your promotional materials.
6. If a customer has a bad experience, address it as soon as possible. Be fair and reasonable. Listen to the problem before responding. If this situation is something which could have been avoided, put measures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. “Resolve a complaint in the customer’s favor, and they will do business with you 70% of the time.” ~ Lee Resources
7. Find ways to thank your customers. Send thank you cards. Create customer loyalty and referral programs. Offer an upgrade in service to your most loyal customers. Sponsor an event like a “lunch and learn” where your customers can learn more about your services or a product you sell. Refer customers to your customer’s business.
What umbrellas do you offer your customers? Please leave a comment on my blog. If you liked this article, please share it.
Know what your customers want and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet. ~ Kevin Stirtz, Business Consultant