Providing good customer service is a choice you make. That’s not an attempt to over simplify the concept of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. There’s more to creating a customer service culture that is in line with company values than merely smiling and acknowledging a customer. However, basic front line service provided by employees on the ground is a choice they make, and that shows a customer that they care, or not. A survey conducted by the Small Business Administration found that more than two-thirds of customers will take their business elsewhere if they feel that an employee is indifferent.

Most companies have established customer service guidelines, but not all of those companies put the principles into action. There are certain words and phrases that your customers love to hear you say. These are the words that will keep them coming back.

Often what a customer wants is the opportunity to explain their needs in detail. Often what a company does is guess what the customer needs, rather than listen to them. When your employees say, ‘How can I help?’ they begin the interaction positively. This tells the customer that you are willing to listen to them.

When a customer comes to you, they are looking for a solution. This is especially true of B2B customers. If you are able to provide a direct answer, such as, ‘I can solve that problem for you’, your customer will appreciate it.

Customers also understand that you may not have all the answers immediately. If you find yourself confronted with a truly difficult question, and know that you will have to do some research to find the answer, then be upfront and say, ‘I don’t know, but I can find out’.  Nothing will ruin your and your company’s credibility quicker than trying to answer a question when you don’t know the answer or don’t have all the facts. Honesty really is the best policy in these situations.

Nothing frustrates customers more than when they approach you with a problem, and find that no one is willing to be accountable. It is your responsibility as the service provider or product seller to ensure there is a satisfactory outcome to the transaction. When you say, ‘I’ll take the responsibility’ you express to the customer that you run your business with integrity and are willing to go the extra mile to solve your customer’s problem.

Customers need to be advised of the status of the products or services they are buying. We all like getting status updates in our email when we order something online. This is no different. Especially for a project that has a longer lead time, keeping the customer in the loop is important. Saying, ‘I will keep you updated’, lets them know that you will keep them apprised of the situation, even if the news is not good. Make sure you follow up with updates, and are not just paying lip service.

We have all been customers at some point. And we’ve all had to deal with providers who can’t keep to a delivery date. A due date is a promise, and businesses who cannot keep their word about delivery dates find that they don’t have repeat customers. When you say, ‘I will deliver on time’ you have to mean it.

With the promise to deliver on time, comes the promise to complete the job as agreed upon. Delivering on time means nothing if it comes with caveats and exceptions. You have to be able to tell the customer that, ‘It will be just what your ordered’, and not similar to or even better than what was ordered.

And finally, what customer doesn’t like to hear a thank you? But it has to be more than thanking them for the order. An unpretentious, ‘We appreciate your business’ goes a long way. And it means that you genuinely offer follow ups, answer questions that may arise, and are invested in making sure that the customer has received exactly what they wanted.

These are all simple phrases we might utter every day. But if you leave them out of your daily transactions, it conveys an impression of being interested in the customer only until the point of sale. This doesn’t make a buyer feel respected or valued, and studies have shown than the vast majority of dissatisfied customers will merely leave quietly, and tell everyone they know not to do business with you. Following a few easy principles can prove that you care about your customers, and in turn lead to repeat sales and referrals.

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