Retail in Asia

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Taking Stock: Eight rules for good customer service

The lifeblood of any business is good customer service. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, the business won’t be profitable for long.

Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. It’s about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others.

If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that an individual customer feels he would like to pursue.

Here are eight golden rules when it comes to customer service:

  1. Answer your phone. Make sure that someone with a pleasant voice is picking up the phone.
  2. Don’t make promises unless you will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception.
  3. Listen to your customer. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting certain merchandise or how to solve the problem.
  4. Deal with complaints. Give the complaint your attention: you may be able to please this one person this one time – and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.
  5. Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it. The other day Jane popped into a local watch shop because she had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of her watchband together. When she explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to her watchband – and charged her nothing! Where do you think Jane will go when she needs a new watchband or even a new watch? And how many people do you think she has told this story to?
  6. Train your staff to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. Give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, "I don’t know."
  7. Take the extra step. Lead the customer to the item they asked about. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it.
  8. Throw in something extra. Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they expect.

If you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good service. Over time, good customer service will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever will!

Barbara Wold has more than 45 years of first-hand retail experience, and is one of the industry’s most sought-after speakers and consultants.

Taking Stock is Retail in Asia’s fortnightly column dedicated to showcasing opinions from experts in the retail industry.