The idea that providing good customer service is important to your business should come as no surprise. But can that be translated into dollars and cents?
The value of customer service is hard to quantify because it is part of a store’s brand and reputation. There are, though, some indications of what it can mean for a business. For example, four out of 10 individuals would return to a business that handled their complaint satisfactorily. And another two people might return.
What that means is at least four individuals are continuing to buy your goods and services. A simple return then can be calculated by simply multiplying the average yearly sales per customer. This is a rough number, but you begin to get the value of your customer service efforts.
Realistically, the return is probably much greater than this simple number. To begin with, customers who have received good service, be it a complaint resolution or just in general, tend to return to a store more often. And some research suggests they also increase the amount they buy.
People who have received good service also tend to become ambassadors for the store. In conversation, people share their positive images of how they were treated as a customer. Over and over, this type of marketing has been one of the most effective tools you can have.
All of these examples mean an increase to your bottom line.
So where does good customer service start?
The first steps to great customer service are easy to do, inexpensive, and generate an immediate positive image of the store. Step one is a simple smile and a hello when someone walks in the door.
Step two is just as easy and effective. Ask how you can help someone. Help the person find the section and item he or she wants. Suggest other items he or she may need or would support the item being purchased.
When customers leave, ask if they found what they were looking for, thank them for stopping and tell them to come back. If they purchased something, remind them to get in touch with you if they have any questions or problems. If they did not find what they were looking for, offer suggestions on where they might try. If you can’t get the business, you certainly would like to keep it in the community.
Here are some of the other components of good service:
- Respond promptly
- Resolve issues quickly
- Keep your promises
- Give more than expected
- Help even if it does not have an immediate return for you
- Make sure you and all your employees offer this assistance
Good service is as important to your business as the need to offer a product or service that meets the customer’s needs. Spend time examining how your business looks to the customer and making improvements where needed.
Glenn Muske is the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality. Follow Glenn on Twitter: @gmuske
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Becky McCray says
Lance Cummins sent this comment by email:
“Thanks for sharing that post!
It’s not just critical for smiling in person. You should be smiling on the phone as well. We wrote an article about that for one of our clients, TeleCapture. Here it is if you want to read it:
My parents lived out in Beaver, OK for the last 10 years of their lives, before they passed away. I absolutely love that area of the country.
You’re doing a fantastic job communicating to all small business owners. Keep up the great work.”
Stefan Franken says
You are so right, indeed you can not grow if you only think in the short term. Invest in your clients, I like ¨ Help even if it does not have an immediate return for you¨,because the person who left your shop will remember your gave good service. And they will feel committed to you in one way or the other. The same goes for the listening part, too bad too many people still think listening equals talking a lot. If you really listen to a client with a complaint and you solve it for the client, you will have a very loyal client in return. Because you showed interest in the client needs and not in you selling something. Thanks for sharing
Smiling to customers is a good way to start a customer service. But it would be more effective if we create a very good reason to smile, like smiling because we are confident that our products have high quality and would really satisfy and make our customers happy.
Becky McCray says
Entreb, I think that goes along with it. Glenn said it is as important as having the right product or service. It’s a balance, to me. Both are necessary.
Ivan Widjaya says
While the ideas look good on theory, it is not necessarily exercised by everyone. The key is really finding someone who gets along well with people. Someone who values customers more than themselves. People who want to assist more than they want to make money. These people are really hard to find.
Becky McCray says
Ivan, you’re definitely right. Those people are hard to find. I like to think they are a little easier to find in small towns.