Okay so let me start this post by saying that I have spent a good part of my career in customer service in one form or fashion. During that time, I have seen how customer service can go really well and how it can go very badly. I believe that there are two key elements to making customer service successful within a company. They are attitude and communications.

Customer service must be an attitude within your organization, not a department. This attitude must start and the top and weave its way throughout the organization. This also applies to small businesses as well. If the person at the top doesn’t view the customer with the utmost respect then the people in the rest of the business won’t either. Customers come first. They are the reason we all have jobs. So, making and keeping them happy has to be the number one priority for any business.

This is something that a lot of businesses and people have a hard time with. They will list all the reasons that customers can be wrong, a pain, or in the way. However, that is where the attitude must come in. If you ensure that a good customer service attitude is a priority for everyone in your business then you will have fewer issues over time.

Let’s look at some of the ways that you can instill a great customer service attitude in your organization whether it is large or small.

  • The customer always comes first. This seems like a simple thing but how many times have you walked into a place of business and been ignored while the staff finishes something? And I’m not talking about finishing up with another customer. The other day I walked into a place of business to give them my payment. I was greeted but then had to wait while two staff members finished a conversation about an issue they were having with a document before someone would take my check. This didn’t demonstrate a customer service attitude to me. They demonstrated that they believed what they were doing was more important than my time.
  • Service ALWAYS counts. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are running customer service always is important. And it doesn’t matter how big or small that customer’s business is providing them with a great customer service experience each and every time counts.
  • Customer service starts at the top. If you do not see your customer as the most important part of your business your employees never will. If they see you always put the customer at the center of everything you are doing then they will do the same.
  • Reward and recognize good service. If you see or hear of an employee providing the kind of service you want to reward and recognize them. This doesn’t always have to be a formal program. It can be as simple as saying thank you, sending them a note of appreciation, or mentioning the occurrence at a staff meeting.
  • Make customer service fun. Helping people shouldn’t be a chore. If you hire and train people correctly they will enjoy helping people. They will see it as a fun part of their job, not something they have to do. Keep discussions about service positive and your employees will see providing service as positive.

The second key element to customer service is communication. Many businesses and people believe that they should only share what they see as absolutely necessary with their customers. This however never works. It is far better to be upfront with people by giving them as much relevant information as you can in a timely fashion.

Let’s look at some of the ways that you can use communication to improve your customers’ impressions of you.

  • When you have information, SHARE IT! If you know something that may affect your clients share that information with them before they ask. The customer will have more respect for your company if you come to them with things they need to know. This builds your trust part of the KLT Factor (Know Like Trust).
  • Share information in a timely fashion. When you have the information make it a priority to share it quickly. Don’t wait to finish other things before drafting communication.
  • Make sure what you share is relevant. Don’t communicate just to communicate. Make sure you are sharing information that is beneficial to your customer. If you are going to send out weekly emails or produce a newsletter make sure it provides meaningful information that your customers have a use for. It doesn’t count as communicating when you send fluff with no substance.
  • Be honest. When a customer approaches you with a question or concern only provide them with information that is honest. Do not make things up. And if you do not know tell them that and assure them that you will get the answer for them. And then do it.
  • Make it easy. Don’t make it difficult for customers to get to the information especially if you are using written communication. Follow the adage from newspapers. Don’t bury the lead. Customers are busy people just like you. Be up front in your communications as to what you’re about to tell them. Don’t make them read through a long email or a whole newsletter to get to the good stuff. List it up front. Put in in the subject line. Make sure they know why they should keep reading.

If you put more money into your building the right attitude when it comes to customer service and making sure that your communications are effective and timely you will spend less on marketing. Because happy customers tell other people about you.

By: Jen G Anders, Lead Designer, Cosmital Designs and Amy Matthews, CEO, AMI