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Tips for turnaround: Customer service do’s

We know that happy customers are loyal customers. And really, the true success of any business depends on recognizing that. Nevertheless, it’s not just about providing customer service—it’s about providing customer service satisfaction.

If your customer service satisfaction isn’t where you’d like it to be, consider these ideas for turning things around.

A refresher course: Five steps to turning customer service into customer service satisfaction

1. Make customer service a priority
Customer service should be part of your brand’s everyday culture and it requires time, effort and constant evaluation. So stay on top of it by providing customer service training to all employees. Ensure that your customer service staff is just as knowledgeable about your products and services as your sales people are. Make it easy for customers to find information and to get help—post phone numbers and e-mails prominently on your website and consider implementing real time chat functions. Lastly, infuse honesty, transparency and understanding into your business’s culture.

2. Listen to what your customers want—and give it to them!
Use tools like SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang to check in with your customers and gather feedback and suggestions pertaining to their customer service satisfaction experiences. Regularly review these findings and make all efforts to accommodate reasonable requests. Follow up with respondents—both those who are pleased with your service, and those who are not. In general, keep frequent surveys short, but administer longer ones for a truly in-depth analysis on an annual basis. For these, it’s often helpful to offer a free gift like a branded, plush Picnic/Stadium Blanket or a sturdy Stainless Steel Tumbler as an incentive for completing lengthy surveys.

3. S.A.V.E. angry customers
A recent post by entrepreneur Jay Goltz on the New York Times small business blog provides some sage advice when it comes to dealing with angry customers. Here’s our take:
Sympathize—let customers know that you understand why they are upset and apologize for what they are experiencing or feeling.
Act—do what you can to solve their problem or answer their question. If you cannot, find someone who can.
Vindicate—let the customer know that what they are experiencing is not the status quo.
Eat something—show the customer that their troubles are worth something by offering discounts on future purchases or refunds.

You may even wish to follow-up with a small gift of gratitude for those customers who spent extended periods of time on hold or on the phone waiting for an issue to be resolved. Try sending a small gift box of Swiss Chocolate Coins with a note that says “A small token of appreciation for your time and business” or an Oval Quikoin Coin Purse with a note that says “We know your time is money … thank you for your patience!”

4. Give more than is expected
Don’t aim for average—aim to go above and beyond what customers expect to experience. They will be pleasantly surprised to be treated with such thoughtfulness and respect and likely be more willing to forgive when something goes wrong. It’s the little things that make a big difference—like free samples on any product page or guarantees. Most new customers don’t expect these things but become loyal customers because of them.

5. Let customers know that they are appreciated
Don’t wait for something to go wrong to let your customers know that they are valued. Let them know all the time by first and foremost offering quality service across the board, but also by surprising them with extra perks once in a while. Present customers with fun and useful gifts like a Memo Board or an Emoticon Blox Stress Reliever, and recognize long-time customers with a gift like the Keep Warm Buddy Set.

Bottom line: always remember that your customers are your biggest asset. Treat them as such and it will stay that way.

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