Good customer service is the bread and butter of our hotel
instance, I paint outdoor signs and create various types of
indoor/outdoor promotionals for people in our small town. I’ve been at
this business now for over 20 years. I rarely advertise, yet I enjoy
about 80 percent of our town’s sign and display business. How do I do
I have several business success secrets that helped me get to
where I am today, and all of them relate to good customer service. These
customer service secrets can equally apply to service contractors doing
business with other businesses, as in my case, or to retailers doing
business with the general consumer.
Customer Service Secret Number One - Build Business to
Customer Loyalty. This is my number one customer service secret, and is
by far the most important one. I was taught about Business to Customer
Loyalty many, many years ago, before I started my own business, when I
still worked as a hotel detective in a ritzy down town Calgary hotel.
The hotel insisted that every one of us who had contact with their
customers know the customer by his full name and, when possible, other
personal or business information about him.
“Good evening, Mr. Smith. Welcome to our hotel.” Then, after a bit of
miscellaneous chit-chat, “By the way, Mr. Smith, did you manage to
unload at a profit those hundred shares of Doodlebug Appliances you
thought were a bit risky?” or, “Was your daughter accepted at Harvard?
Last time you were a guest with us you expressed concern that Emily was
having difficulty with her math, and wasn’t sure if she had enough
points to qualify for admission.”
Now, here’s a customer who KNOWS that he’s welcome at your hotel, and
whenever he’s back in town, you can count on him staying in your
Is this spying on customers? Not at all! It’s simply remembering a
few concerns that your customer shared with you the last time he stayed
in your hotel.
When you can show concern about what matters to your customer, that’s
Business to Customer Loyalty, and you can bet on it, you’ve just
acquired a customer for life.
Customer Service Secret Number Two - provide true customer
service. In today’s market environment, service has become a cliché and
it seems like “everyone’s doing it.” So, if everyone is doing it, why
not jump ahead of the wolf pack by providing even more creative,
personalized service to your customers than your competitors can?
One size shoe does not fit all feet. Nor is one type of customer
service suitable for all your customers. Let’s say your advertised
featured customer service is Home Delivery. The first customer may
welcome this Home Delivery because it’s difficult for him to get out and
shop in person.
But your second customer may enjoy “window shopping” and carrying his
purchases around with him as he goes from shop to shop. He is not the
least interested in your home delivery service. So, with what you save
by not needing home delivery for this customer, why not offer him an
equivalent discount on a second cash purchase, or give him an in-store
percentage-off coupon that he can use the next time he’s in your store?
repeat, be creative. Get to personally know your customers and
recognize their individual needs. Above all, make certain that what you
are offering really is something that your customer can value; that's
the key to good customer service.
Customer Service Secret Number Three - “The Customer Is always
Right.” If a customer comes to you about a complaint, be very serious
about how you handle it. Is the customer upset and angry? First, calm
him with words and action and show that you are serious about doing
something to correct the problem. Even if it is obvious that he’s wrong,
sometimes it’s better for repeat business to take the loss and
compensate the customer.
Then, when your customer is satisfied
that his complaint has been properly addressed, thank him for bringing
the problem to your attention. Remember, no amount of advertising can
repair the damage done by failing to properly address a customer’s
concern. Even more damaging to a small business is the “silent
complainer.” That’s the customer who simply walks out of your shop
without saying a word, and you never see him again. These silent
complainers have friends. And their friends have friends.
Customer Service Secret Number Four - be honest with your
customers. If your customer even suspects that you are trying to pull
something over on him, you can kiss that customer goodbye - permanently!
Were you fortunate enough to purchase an item from a wholesaler at a
discount price? Instead of being tempted to richly improve your bottom
line, pass that saving on to your customer. This will ingrain confidence
in your customer so that, in the future, your customers will know where
to come for REAL savings.
Did you manage to pick up some out of
date or reject item? Don’t be tempted to pawn it off on your customers
at a regular price without at least informing your customer that it’s a
reject or of inferior workmanship.
If your customer asks you for
advice on a product, don’t try to sell him the item that best enhances
your bottom line. Sell him the item that’s best for your customer. In
the long run, your bottom line will thank you for having made this
Customer Service Secret Number Five - educate your staff to be
equally as concerned about your customers as you are. Some years ago I
went into a hardware store and asked the young summer student clerk for
some rubber cement.
“You mean, a tire patching kit?”
“No,” I repeated. “I want a bottle of rubber cement.”
kid obviously didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. However,
rather than finding out what rubber cement is, he gave me a strange
look, then turned his back and went on to serve another customer.
Needless to say, after that incident I took ALL my hardware business
A final bit of advice about customer service; “If you aren’t taking
care of your customers, your competition will.” Print that advice out in
large, bold letters and past it above your cash register.