The Golden Rule is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. This comes from the proverb “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Customer service should be as routine as paying your bills or ordering office supplies. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to make an impression. Often it’s the small things that customers remember: a phone call returned on time, a card to mark a special occasion, a thank you note or a gift.
In particular, great customer service depends on several keys:
• Integrity: The basis of all great customer service is honesty and fairness. You MUST deliver the product or service as offered, or better. Your prices must be fair — even if not the least expensive.
• Strong Knowledge Base: Your sales and account staff must understand the products/services your company is selling. One of the greatest irritants our company has seen is when an insurance agent doesn’t give their client the necessary detail to make informed decisions. More clients will leave your company based off of this issue than any other based off of our experience.
• Example Leadership: A company’s culture gets transmitted from the top down. Employees will only treat customers as well as their employer and managers treat them. If you deal with your employees with respect and decency, they are far more likely to treat your customers that way.
• Thorough Preparation: Most entrepreneurs and small-business owners are so busy, that they tend to take a “sink or swim” approach to their employees’ training. You can’t expect employees to know what to do or to understand products and policies unless they are adequately trained.
• Fair Treatment: Smile. Be polite. Say thank you a lot. Remember, at all times, your customers are people, not just dollar signs. As our office is in Georgia, you can always remember the “Southern Charm” that our southern state is known. People respond to a caring voice or email.
• Create Raving Fans: Whenever you can, try to make the customer more than happy. Is the customer always right? Anyone in business can tell you that they are NOT. But whatever you can do to exceed their expectations and solve their problems increases their loyalty to you and not to a cheaper competitor. Price is a part of the equation certainly, but a “Raving Fan” will stick with great customer service for longer.
• Killer Communication: Sooner or later, something’s going to go wrong. Remember, you and your staff are human beings. Even in the worst situations, it’s possible to provide great customer service. The key is to keep the customer informed. Nothing infuriates a customer/prospect more than to be surprised by bad news. This is especially true when it has not been brought to the forefront early on in the service timeline.
• Admit Mistakes. Finally, when things do go wrong or you can’t accommodate a customer, apologize, sincerely. Somewhere along the timeline of our culture the word “sorry” became avoided like the Black Plague! You expect your vendors and merchant partners to do the right thing and admit their wrongs. Why can’t your service team do the same thing?