What is the main thing that us as contractors/ service providers need to always keep into account when dealing with clients? Customer Service! Here are a few points that we feel will come in handy for you and your business when dealing with customers.
Response time with Queries/ Quotes.
Service response time is the period between when a customer makes a request, and a response is given. In a small business, response time plays a significant role in retaining customers. According to Google research of 1,000 companies, the average response time to respond to customer service requests is 12 hours and 10 minutes. That is too long! Online mediums, such as email and website tools, allow customers to make requests digitally and in written format. This is an effective way of documenting service requests and generating a paper trail for correspondences. Customers expect timely responses to such requests; therefore, they should not be disregarded or delayed simply because they are in digital format. Some companies offer live online support that provides customers with immediate resolution to their inquiries. Email requests should be examined on a case-by-case basis and responded to accordingly.
Process emails one at a time and respond according to priority. In some cases, you can give immediate and definitive email responses. In other instances, a concrete response may take some time. In the latter case, promptly respond to the customer and explain that you will get back to him/her by a certain time frame. Respond to emails and online inquiries within 24 hours of receipt. Let’s face it if you have a query for a contractor/ service provider you would like to get a response in a timely manner too and if you end up having to wait hours/ days for a response your patients is no longer in tact and this is where we as small business owners suffer because this is when the customer starts to get irate and you can never seem to calm them down enough to assist. Let us avoid all this hassle and aim to a mush more considerate response time.
Tying in with this is Punctuality.
Punctuality informs many aspects of Executive Presence. … Being on time helps you to establish a good reputation and allows others to trust you. When you are punctual, your professional image appears polished and organised, rather than hurried and haphazard. Punctuality is a sign of professionalism and helps you stand out as a reliable and trustworthy business. Being punctual helps you establish your reputation as a dependable and consistent worker. Punctuality says to others, “I’m ready”. It implies that you are open to allowing more into your life. You are ready to meet with a client to discuss business. You are ready to deliver a presentation. You are ready to be involved with whatever is set before you. It goes without saying that businesses need people to show up on time to get the job done. Although this seems like common sense, you will probably encounter a few employees who are chronically late. For business leaders, tardiness needs to be addressed because it affects productivity and – ultimately – the reputation of an organisation. A sales representative out in the field who always shows up late for appointments does not instil confidence in customers and makes them feel unimportant. Every employee is a reflection on the company. When one person is chronically late, a bad reputation begins to permeate in the community. Customers not only do not have confidence in the company, but they also will not refer friends.
Continual communication/ Feedback.
Your customers’ requirements are likely to change over time, and the ability to communicate with them helps you adapt to their changing needs. … By maintaining regular communication with the customer, you are building a better long-lasting reputation. So, say for instance you have kept up to date with your customers correspondence to make a sale or to get your customer to accept the quote, if you fail to continue communication with them you are not only risking losing that client due to mishaps from miscommunication, but you are also going to be losing what ever referrals you might have gotten from this customer too. Why do you want to cut your own throat?
Friendliness and courteous.
Customer courtesy refers to a variety of informal behaviours demonstrated by a company’s sales and service employees that affect a customer’s experience. Reputation is especially important in business, and if your company is building a reputation of rudeness toward customers, then you will quickly lose the customers you have and any potential customers you might get. When customers visit your business or call on the phone, the level of courtesy employees show affects whether customers buy and whether they come back. For a small business, customer courtesy is necessary to compete against large chain stores. Customer courtesy generally centres around being friendly and kind to customers at your business. Response time is a common starting point. You show a customer courtesy by acknowledging him and giving him attention quickly after he arrives. A warm, friendly smile and attitude when you approach are critical as well. Helping a new customer find the product or service he needs by listening and making a friendly recommendation may seal the deal on a sale. Listening with empathy and genuinely working to resolve a service problem can help retain a customer after a bad experience. Customer courtesy impacts whether a customer views his experience with your business as positive, negative, or lukewarm. Hiring friendly, helpful employees and training them on being courteous helps your efforts to get repeat business and ultimately, loyalty from customers.
Honesty and professionalism.
Honesty is a key characteristic of a business because it sets the tone for the kind of work culture that you want to create, provides consistency in workplace behaviour, and builds loyalty and trust in customers and prospects. As a business owner, your personal integrity is reflected in the way you do business. Regardless of whether you are a freelancer or have a handful of employees on board, the moral code you follow out of work is the same set of principles you apply (or should apply) to professional relations. Taking this up a notch, integrity also refers to the actions of your company as a whole. If you and your employees display moral conduct in dealing with clients, suppliers and internally with each other, your business will perform better than if the opposite were the case.
Give options where possible.
There are basic tenets that can help you ensure better-quality customer service, and most of them are intuitive. Customer service representatives that are easy to contact, polite, friendly, and helpful obviously do better than their counterparts. But there are subtle psychological factors at play in a customer’s ultimate satisfaction in a given brand experience, and how you incorporate them into your business could help you earn higher customer satisfaction—and loyalty—overall. One peculiar facet of customer psychology is the availability and type of choices you provide.
Going the extra mile to ensure quality of work.
The English dictionary definition of ‘going the extra mile’ is: Make a special effort to achieve something. It is the little things in life which make a big difference. Going the extra mile is a vital ingredient that lifts our mood, allowing hopefulness to rule. Your business is nothing without your customers. You know that, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Take the chance to get to know your customers better. They cherish personalisation. Work hard to dig deep into understanding how their business works day-to-day, any problems they have encountered and how you could resolve them. Where relevant, you may also wish to take notes of any conversations exchanged so that you are able to refer them the next time you talk. Go the extra mile and make them feel like they are your only customer. You should start seeking feedback from customers. There may be a tiny mistake or issue in your company that customers are getting irritated by and you are unaware of. Therefore, always strive for high-quality output as it shows you have high standards. Develop a reputation for reliability; never make a pledge that you cannot maintain.
Follow up courtesy call after completion of work.
Customer service is a critical part of the sustained success for a company. It is in the process of servicing a customer that they make a decision about whether they enjoy the experience of interacting with your brand. This also includes any purchases. What happens during these customer service experiences determines if they return or reach out to your competitor. Your brand reputation also relies on exceptional customer service. No matter what type of follow up you do with customers—or how it goes—end every interaction with these simple words: Thank you. It can never be overused. Whatever the outcome, you should appreciate what you learned during the conversation. You either received reinforcement that what you are doing is working or you got feedback on what you could do better. Either way, you can’t lose by always following up with customers because both you and your customers will be happy as a result.