10 Tips to Improve Your Customer Service
In an entertaining keynote speech that kicked off the National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Orlando, Fla. last week, Shep Hyken, author, professional speaker and consultant to companies on building loyal relationships with their customers and employees, listed 10 "Moments of Magic" that'll help businesses win customers for life.
1. Manage the first impression. Greet consumers and employees warmly, answer phones in your call center with a polite hello, and dress appropriately for your position, among other things.
2. Have a knowledge or expertise of your business/industry. This includes both internal (employee) and external (consumer) knowledge, Hyken said. Know where to obtain knowledge, and how to use it when you get it.
3. Build rapport. This doesn't always have to be business-related, Hyken noted. Build a rapport with employees by being able to talk with them about things other than work — e.g., their kids’ lives, sports, weather.
4. Be excited about what you do. Enthusiasm is contagious, Hyken said. And it works the other way, too. If you're not enthusiastic about your work, that's also contagious.
5. Communicate. Ask the extra question of your customers and prospects. Negotiating expectations with customers will leave them more satisfied when you can meet those expectations, Hyken said. But don't promise what you can't deliver on, he cautioned.
6. No mistakes. This is a goal, not reality. And when there is a mistake, an opportunity is presented: If you remedy the mistake to a customer's satisfaction, it can restore their confidence in your company to an even higher level. Hyken said three things must happen in order to accomplish this:
- fix what has to be fixed;
- do it with the right attitude; and
- do it with urgency.
7. Offer quality at every turn, both in your products and service. This must occur both internally and externally, Hyken stressed.
8. Underpromise and overdeliver. Set consumer expectations for your business, then exceed them. Hyken provided a very appropriate example at the Disney-owned resort hosting the conference: Disney posts wait times for visitors in line for its amusement rides. Those times are routinely 10 minutes to 15 minutes higher than the actual wait, leaving consumers excited when they reach the front of the line — even if they've been waiting for a half-hour.
9. Be consistent. This encompasses all aspects of your business — customer service, order fulfillment, merchandising, etc. Live by the policy that you're going to try to be better today than you were yesterday, Hyken said.
10. Show appreciation. Make it a habit to say thank-you over and over again when you have interactions with your customers, Hyken advised. This should extend to employees as well, letting them know that you appreciate their efforts.