Thursday, May 14, 2015

Eight simple rules your business can (and probably should) follow for positive customer interactions.

Customer interactions (the positive ones at least) are of paramount importance to us here at SkyPlanner, South Florida's Salesforce consulting company. Over the years we've surprised you with some pretty shocking statistics about how negative customer interactions can cost your business big time, and now we're going to clue you in on how to make sure those negatrive experiences never happen.

These are the general rules we've developed through our research on customer interactions.  We believe every business should follow them in some way when dealing with customers:
  1. Be available. When it comes to customer service you don't have to be on-call 24/7/365 but your customers should be able to reach someone at a reasonable hour if they need help. 
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  2. Don't make promises you aren't sure you will be able to keep. It's always better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around, and going beyond expectations always leaves a lasting impression. And it goes without saying that you should NEVER make promises you know you can't or won't keep. 
  3. Pay attention. Don't just let your customers unload their problems then respond by rattling off some prepackaged responses. Hold an actual conversation with them and give off the feeling of caring for what they have to say even if, frankly, you don't. 
  4. Then again, don't just pay attention but also act. Listening is all well and good but you have to actually react on customer complaints, not just throw them in a pile behind the door. Chances are that for every one person who actually gives voice to an issue there are many more who will simply choose to take their business elsewhere. If you ignore one person's complaint you could be losing much more than just their business.
  5. Live in the now even if it doesn't mean making money at the moment. Always be willing and ready to offer help to a customer even if it's a small favor with no expectation of return. It might seem like it's you doing something for nothing, you're gaining their appreciation which can lead to much greater returns in future through future business or positive referrals. 
  6. Train your support staff so they can represent your business well. If you have employees consider them the face of your business. And while you yourself might be great at dealing with customers, if your customer service reps/cashiers/waiters/etc. don't share the same gusto for positive customer interactions they will eventually destroy the image you've so carefully built. Take the time to teach your staff how to treat customers the right way. If that doesn't work it might be time to get a new staff. 
  7. Put in the extra effort. Nothing is more irritating to a customer with a problem than being told to "check the website". Going the extra mile to walk customers through issues, check inventory for them, or lead them to a specific product's location will show them they're more than just a dollar sign. 
  8. Surprise them with a little extra something. A simple example would be throwing in a sticker or coupon into the box when shipping an order. Those two things would probably cost your company close to nothing but it can mean free advertising or a more likely follow-up purchase, respectively. Just like in Rule 7, putting forth a little more effort can go very far. 
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While industry and type of business can vary the exact lengths to which your business may have to go to please customers we at SkyPlanner believe these eight rules provide a good base from which any business can develop its core customer-interaction plan. We'd love to hear the steps you take to make sure your customers come away with the best experiences possible. Leave a comment or shoot us an email here. We look forward to hearing from you!