Customer Service Issues
We have a lot of wonderful clients. However there is one in particular that I’d like to tell you about. We started working with this client over two years ago. At first, we did some little stuff for them, a few graphics and a few web pages. We were available to them at their convenience. We answered the phone at dinner hour, we worked on the weekends, we catered to their needs and their deadlines. We gave them a lot of extras for their money, including free advice.
A year later, they came back to us and asked us to do a larger project. Again, we provided the same stellar customer service setting our guidelines for service around what they could afford and what we were capable of providing.
Recently, they just signed on for a three month service contract to maintain all their web sites.
We feel that the reason our customers come back to us is because we provide ultimate customer service. We work very hard to provide the services that they need at prices they can afford (still making the profit that we need.)
Through our experiences, we’ve worked out certain plans that we follow to provide great service. This starts with the initial consultation and quote, and goes right through to the end of the project. Of course, new issues always arise due to the specifics of each project and the individual nature’s of our clients. However, we take these new issues and incorporate them into our Customer Service Policy. Each time we learn new things, it helps us to become more business savvy.
If you own a small business, your Customer Service Policy should continually be under development to account for new issues that will undoubtedly pop up.
In order to start developing a good Customer Service Policy, you may need to think about issues that could come up and the strategies that you are going to use to resolve problems. Then you should write down your strategies so that you have a logical plan to follow in the event of problems. It also becomes a good document to refer back to, a history of your business practices.
Below, we’ve provided some general issues that apply to any business. There will be customer service issues that you need to consider that are specific to your business.
1. Employee Handbook
Your employees will be dealing with your customers on a daily basis. If you have, in writing, some simple guidelines for them to follow, they will be able to handle customer inquiries with a method that is consistent with your business policies. The other strategies below could be included in your employee handbook. Even if you only have one or two employees, a handbook is important.
2. Answering the Phone:
What will you and/or employees say when you answer the phone? Something as simple as, “Good afternoon, how may I help you,” with a smile on your face makes people feel good.
3. Answering Email:
You should have a policy in place that you will answer emails in a certain period of time. For instance, the same business day or within 24 hours. I receive a gazillion emails a day and I have to prioritize who I will answer and how I will answer them. Sometimes, if I can’t provide an answer immediately, I may shoot off a quick email that simply says, “I’ve received your email and I’m working on your problem.” Let your customers know what your policy is and put your response time on your web site.
4. What Can You Handle?
If you are in a service oriented business there are bound to be issues that will arise that you cannot handle. If you outline the things you can do and also have consultants that you can refer people to for issues that you can’t handle, then you can provide ultimate customer service. For instance, a few of our clients need script work. If the script is beyond our capabilities we do have good people that we can refer them to. If you are selling products, are you the manufacturer or are you selling products created by other business? You will need to have policy regarding how you will handle questions regarding problems with those products. If you cannot answer a question properly, how are you going to respond to your customers? Have a good response in writing.
5. Return Policy:
Will you allow customers to return merchandise through your outlet? Here’s an example that really bugs me. I bought some electronic products through Amazon. If I have problems with the products, I can’t return those products through Amazon. That bugs me. I have to go to the manufacturer of the product in order to return it. I won’t be buying any more electronic products through Amazon, it’s too much hassle. Are you doing everything you can to eliminate your customer’s hassles?
6. Guarantees or Warranties:
100% guarantee is always the best guarantee. You should give a 100% guarantee. If people are not satisfied they are not going to return to your store. What will you do when people want to return something or are not satisfied with your work? Do everything in your power to help them, ask them why they aren’t satisfied, accept the return with a smile on your face and then give them something else for their troubles. I guarantee you, they will turn to your business if they need your services or products again.