How Effective is Your Customer Service?
You may think that you are doing everything you can to achieve good customer service. You are cordial; you send out a monthly newsletter; you even send your clients a box of chocolates for Christmas as a reminder of how much you appreciate them.
Are there some aspects of your customer service that you could do better? Test yourself on these five customer service points that you may not be utilizing to their full advantage:
- Are you pleasant on the phone, each and every time you speak to someone?
It may seem easy to pick up the phone and greet your customer in a kind tone, but have you ever just had a bad day, and let it show in your voice? This can become an issue. Some clients only speak to you sporadically. If you are having a bad day on that ONE day that they call you, your tone could be the difference in keeping a client or losing a client (and possibly referrals). If you are having a bad day, the best advice we can give is when your phone rings, take a breath, and start smiling before you answer. Always smile when speaking with a customer, even over the phone. When you smile while talking on the phone, you will sound much happier and more cordial than your mood would otherwise produce.
- Do you return all phone calls?
We all have that one customer who tries our patience...a frequent caller who may be rude or long-winded. You may think that not returning that client’s phone call is not important. Think again. Every customer has the ability to refer other clients to you. If you are not answering their phone calls, why would they refer their friends or coworkers to you? Although answering the phone each time/every time is not usually an option, calling your clients back (in a reasonable time) is.
- Are you listening and responding to client recommendations?
Whether it is a suggestion or a compliment, take all client recommendations seriously. With a suggestion, most people feel they are helping you out. If a client says that you take too long to return their calls, pull them into a discussion to see how you can better meet their expectations. Thank them for their input and then put an action plan together and include them in your outcome. This will show you care, you are listening, and you want to make them happy. When you receive a compliment, acknowledge it graciously. People who seek you out to compliment you are sincerely want you know they appreciate you. Take advantage of it. Send them a card thanking them for everything they do. Post their complimentary letter on your wall so they can see how much you appreciate their kind words (if compliance allows it). Show your clients that they matter, that you hear them, and that you appreciate their responses – good or otherwise.
- If you can, are you offering more than what the job calls for?
Many issues can be resolved from a simple Google search. If you do not typically provide services that your client is asking for, try to assist them in finding a solution. Explain that you are not able to provide a specific service, but then look up possible solutions / providers to help them. Can they do this research themselves? Sure they can. But putting in a little bit of effort to help them solve their problem can go a long way toward building your relationship. This effort shows how much you care…that you take their problems seriously, regardless if that problem directly involves you. Providing this service shows you are willing to take five extra minutes out of your day to give them the help that they need.
- Do you over-explain?
Many people come to you because you offer a service that they do not know how to handle themselves. You know an entire industry that they may not have any clue about. Rather than assuming that your clients have “common sense” industry knowledge, offer up that knowledge. Many miscommunications happen when you assume that the client knows something that you believe is common knowledge. They can always come back and say, “Well you didn’t tell me that.” Don’t let that happen. Explain every aspect of each situation, and make sure that when your client leaves your office, they are confident about the conversation that they just had with you. If a client is coming into your office to discuss their retirement, explain the differences between Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Simple IRA, 401(k) or 403(b), etc. Your client may not, in fact, know exactly what they are coming in to see you about. They may think that they want one thing, but they look to you to know what they actually want. By over-explaining all of their options, they may realize that they actually need something different than they thought they originally wanted. They will appreciate your services so much more if you take the time to explore every option and over-explain different options for them.
You may think that your customer service is top-notch…that your customers have never criticized…and your business is doing very well. But imagine if you take the time to bring your service one step further by incorporating some of the steps above. Could you have saved one client who left? Could you acquire one new referral? Each option above is completely doable and 100% free. The only challenge is tweaking your approach to recognize that you could do a little more for your clients.
Are you thinking about all aspects of your client service? We are….