If you want loyalty to your brand, creating a customer service culture is the foundation.
This is accomplished by always making your customer come first. It is not about you and your products/services, it is about the needs, wants and desires that your customers require. It is finding out why they are seeking you out for a solution and then focusing on delivering a gain that will satisfy their pain.
Buyers reach out to you to deliver solutions to their issues. If you focus on them, they see your mission is delivering value. If you can make your communications personal you are making them feel valuable. The interaction is not transactional, but relational. It is not a buyer entering your store, seeking a certain size nut and bolt to repair a screen door, paying, then leaving. It is you creating a dialogue about the door and the issues that caused the need for a new nut and bolt to understand their need and addressing what else might be involved in this issue. When a seller shows interest beyond the immediate need, they are creating a relationship that will form the foundation for a return engagement to meet the next need.
If you can exceed the buyer’s expectation then you are checking off a box in their mental checklist of why they should continue to do business with you. The lawn is mowed, the hedges are trimmed and the landscaper notes that there are weeds popping up in one of the yard’s gardens and addresses their removal. This is done without charge. You have just exceeded their expectations and created value in the relationship. When the contracted tasks are completed and you ask the client what else they may need to have done, you are creating a relationship vs. showing up, doing the work, then leaving without checking in with the client. When you complete the installation of a new bulkhead, sending a handwritten thank-you note exceeds expectations.
Customer service entails engendering trust, the trust that you will do what you promise in your proposal; doing what you promised by arriving on the day and time agreed upon. It means giving as early notice as possible if circumstances beyond your control require rescheduling. Not showing up does nothing but reduces trust and disappoints the buyer.
Trust starts with connecting. Connecting means talking with, not at your customer. It’s understanding what drives their buying decisions so you can get one step closer every time you communicate. Having an understanding of their buying motivation keeps them engaged, buying again and referring you to others.
As sellers and providers of customer service we have to keep in mind that buyers’ needs are currently being met by someone else. They are having their autos repaired, houses painted, lawns mowed, or newspapers delivered by another seller. In order for you to replace them, you have to have a differentiator. That difference might be how to treat your buyers, how you create “fanatic fans” for your brand. It is making customer service everyone’s job.
As the owner or manager of a business, make customer service personal. Engage personally with customers to understand how they feel about the work you do, the services you perform and take either corrective action or improve your interactions to keep them buying from you. The way you get the best information is to ask. Ask them how you are doing, how you are satisfying their needs, wants and desires. Ask them how you can improve your service. Ask them what else you can do for them.
Customer service is all about them, not you.
Marc L. Goldberg is a Certified Mentor at SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands. For free and confidential mentoring, contact SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands, www.capecod.score.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 508/775-4884.