It is surprising how big the difference is, between the common courtesy we expect, what we receive and what we in turn, give back. Despite a certain unwritten common courtesy that underlies the corporate world, why is the simple act of being courteous so often found to be severely lacking when it plays a big part in company and client liaison?
How is it that the misdemeanour of offering poor customer service is so evidently rampant, even though the act of loosing a client from a lack of good customer service can be so easily avoided? Remember that it is not your clients or even your colleague’s fault you are having a bad day, uphold your own personal morals even if not the company’s and however frustrated a client may make you feel, keep the attitude at bay and put a lid on the lip!
Return The Call
Ever heard the expression ‘treat someone as you want to be treated’ and ever experience the growing frustration when someone doesn’t return your calls? Don’t fall into the same trap. If you are organised, then returning a phone call within a reasonable time shouldn’t be an issue. Remember that it is not nice to be on the waiting side and if someone keeps calling and consistently can’t get you, they will go somewhere else. Remember that it may be your customer service that gives you the edge over another company. People are even prepared to pay more if the service they receive is top notch. The great secret is, that offering such good customer service doesn’t cost a thing. There are no overhead costs and no monthly bills to pay for the privilege and if that wasn’t enough, it is actually easy to achieve. The key is to establish your customer service policy early on and not deviate from it, even if it means staying on an extra 5 minutes after hours to return that call.
Just as you aim to return a phone call, return an email. People will often prefer email confirmation and keeping track of business with the good old cyber trail is always good for your records and keeps the mounting pile of paper to a minimum. Keeping people waiting is impolite and a great policy to establish is to respond to all emails within one working day. You do not have to wait until you have a concrete answer to give in order to reply to an email. A simple message to state that you received the email and are working on it can be enough until you do have something of substance to send. Set your standards high and give your competitors a run for their money. Remember that the quicker you can respond to clients, the quicker you can close deals and secure further business.
Word of mouth speaks for itself so let your clients do the talking – it’s just up to you what they will be talking about.
Watch Your Intonation
Never be rude or angry over email as this can surely come back to bite you in the a**. Be firm if you need to be but never send an email that you may regret. Write your email and then review it later if you are not sure about its content. Emails can often be more misunderstood than the spoken word, so always try to be as clear as possible but if you are still unsure on the wording, get someone else to veto it or pick up the phone.
Always, endeavour to curtail your frustration when it comes to clients, however demanding they may be and ensure you are calm before emailing or speaking with them. Be firm if you have to but don’t write or pick up the phone out of anger. However tempting it may be to do so, it will not be professional.
Sometimes delicate or unpleasant issues have to be dealt with but remember that it is not what you say but how you say it that counts.
Keep it Professional
We all use company email for personal use time to time, whether that is to email friends or family or office colleagues. Try, however, to keep this to a minimum and avoid the chit-chat. Emails can easily resurface when you least want them to so avoid gossiping about clients and other colleagues and keep your image as professional as possible.
Check The Schedule
There are plenty of ways to keep on top of your schedule and not making your appointments too close to one another in case one runs over or you come across a delay is one of them.
In the case you really can’t keep to a set time and or date, notify all participants with as much notice as possible and reschedule then and there. Do NOT miss the next appointment. It is extremely unprofessional to keep cancelling and your clients will easily get fed up.
The Extra Mile
Always try to offer that element of surprise. The unexpected always goes a long way in building lasting relationships and it can sometimes be that extra mile that makes all the difference. The extra, comes in the details such as having a database of your client calls so you can note down important points such as their holiday dates etc so you can ask them how their holiday was when you next talk to them. If you work in weddings, then merely sending a congratulations card on the newly weds’ anniversary will be a small touch that means a lot. Connecting with a client this way on a semi personal level will help you to come across as friendly and personable. Just be careful not to go too far the other way and become nosy or pushy for personal details. Keep a respectful distance but show interest in who your clients are.
Showing that you actually care about your clients as people and don’t merely see them as the next pay check will be much appreciated and will stand you in good stead for recommendations and repeat business. The most important thing however, is to be sincere. Anyone can spot a false comment a mile away, so you must believe in the customer service you are putting forth.
Think back to your own experiences of great customer service and note what made them so memorable and try to implement them. You never know who your return client will be, so it pays to be nice to everyone.