No matter the business each one shares a core pillar that they cannot operate without. Customers.
A business is nothing without a customer. From profit, to reputation, to selling a product every business owner knows the root of success will be the customer. What is a flower shop without someone buying flowers? An indoor garden that will soon shut its door.
One misstep and the whole world will know.
The world we live in makes it easier for a bad experience to tarnish a reputation or at least cast a shadow of doubt. Reddit, google reviews, and yelp just to name a few have become a vital platform for customers to share their experiences. Now, no one expects perfection and for the most part all businesses run on human contact whether it's a register transaction or selling a product or service directly to the consumer. As with all things human and human made there are bound to be errors. Technology doesn't work the way it should, food is made incorrectly, delivery trucks break down, etc. Many things can toss a wrench in the cogs and while it is frustrating to both the provider and customer the main focus should always fall on, you guessed it, the customer.
Repairing mistakes regardless of fault is one of the best ways to not only show the customer they and their time are valued it can either cement their continued patronage or sever ties completely. Despite all of the technology we use today word of mouth is still the best networking tool new businesses can use to grow and expand their customer base. No matter what type of business you plan to start, operate, or expand there are a few key ways to treat, speak to, and react to customers in a variety of situations.
Actions that speak just as loud as words
Distractions are becoming unfavorably common in work environments. Natural socialization is both a blessing and a curse. When creating a space for customers being aware and vigilant is important meaning conversations between co-workers need to be dropped in order to help customers. It shows their time is valuable to the company and leaves the floor open for questions to the employee. Multitasking has its advantages, but when it comes to customer relations splitting attention leads to a negative outcome. Ensuring leaders reflect this behavior to their employees aids in the action becoming a habit while in the work environment.
Experience, no matter protocol, is always a personal experience to the customer. Repeat customers tend to remember more than given credit for and their time with a business leaves an impression. Recalling certain things that happened the last time they were a patron, remembering a coffee order for example, shows the customer they matter. They aren't just another person in line they're a friend, a member of the family, and not just a dollar sign.
Diving deeper into personal experience building relationships with customers is a building block of success no matter the industry. Showing genuine interest in things customers opt to share breaks down the presumptive barriers that being respectful and conversational is only part of the job and nothing more. Customers are people and people thrive on positive human contact.
Being positive is contagious. It's an aura of light that can be seen the moment you walk in the door. Now, imagine walking into a dark and dingy room devoid of light except a single bulb hanging from the ceiling. It isn't exactly welcoming is it? Creating a positive environment from the jump can yield immediate results.
Mistakes are forgiven but not forgotten when handled poorly.
No one can predict when a problem is going to arise especially when dealing with customer service. Things happen that are out of the control of the company or business, but how problems are handled is controllable.
Respect is the golden rule and continues to hold true. It is the best way to ensure the customer knows their grievances, concerns, and feelings are important. Listening intently and responding in a calm manner can often take a high-tension situation and make it more manageable. That will leave both the employee and customer satisfied and comfortable. No one wants to be ignored especially when they feel wronged. Being treated kindly, courteously, and with urgency creates a sense of trust that can go a long way.
What does going the extra mile mean? Going the extra mile means different things to different people and companies. But, when you rip off the meat and get to the bones of the phrase it's simple. It's remaking food without making a fuss. It is allowing a return for a damaged item beyond the normal retail policy. It's calling customer service rather than giving the customer the number and speaking on behalf of them. It's an extra step to ease the annoyance, confusion, or inconvenience of whatever situation is happening.
When all else fails reverse the roles
You are a customer. At a coffee shop, at a grocery store, even online shopping. How do you want to be treated? Why do you go two blocks down to get coffee when there's a chain right across the street? All of these factors are important to you, the customer, that make have established a bond strong enough to make a recurring customer out of you. While working in the manager's shoes can create a barrier it is best to always remember we are all someone's customer. We want to be important, we want our needs met, we want to be notice even if we don't need direct help. Owning or operating (or both) a business is a complicated dance but acknowledging customer experience should be a solid, important focus is the first step in making great customer service a habit rather than a necessary task.