Little things that make a big difference

Little things that make a big difference

As you may already realise by now, I am a stickler for customer service.

And I believe it’s the little things that make the big differences.

As Maya Angelou famously quoted:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Think about how you leave people feeling in your business.  Are there any small changes that could make a big difference in how you make prospects and clients feel?

Customer service isn’t rocket science.  It really is the little things such as a smile, a handwritten note, or a follow up to see how they are.

We tend to spend time focusing on wooing our prospects to turn them into clients and a big failing is stopping this once they have purchased.  These people can become our best marketers if we continue to show we care about them.

Send a thank you card, email to see if they are happy with their purchase or send a client only special offer for a future purchase.

I’ve got a touchpoint checklist with some ideas to get you started thinking about how you can wow your prospects and clients.  You can download it here for free.

And here are a few examples that I have come across just recently.

Good customer service

Good customer service

Received a package on a low-cost item where they had included a small bag of sweets – nice touch.

Had an online chat to discuss a problem.  After the chat, I received a lovely email with the direct contact details for the person I had been chatting to so I could go to them directly if any further problems (no having to repeat the problem again which is so frustrating).

An order was messed up and after trying to find out what happened, the customer services chap gave me false information to try and fob me off (very bad customer service).  I emailed a complaint and with no further fuss I had the product delivered along with a full refund to apologise (they have now kept me as a customer)

After a long tiring drive to stay at a hotel, upon arrival the lady at the desk said she had heard there were long delays on the motorway.  She said she thought we would be tired so had gone to our room to draw the curtains and turn on the lamps so we could have a lie-down and a rest.  A small but hugely appreciated touch.

Bad customer service

Poor customer service

I paid next day delivery for an item which didn’t arrive.  I contacted the company to find out what had happened.  There was no apology but just a barrage of excuses that drivers get tired and sometimes deliver to the wrong address, can’t find properties in rural locations etc.  Yes, they said they would investigate where the item was but no refund on delivery cost and didn’t seem to care.  They have lost a long-standing customer.

At the same hotel mentioned above, upon coming downstairs in the morning, my husband and I both said good morning to the new lady on the desk, but she couldn’t be bothered to lift her head and smile. She only just muttered ‘morning’ whilst continuing to look at her mobile! This made us feel rather unwelcome.

I emailed to book an appointment with a health and beauty therapist, gave her the dates I was available, and she simply said: “no, can’t do those” in her reply.  No other dates suggested, no saying ‘unfortunately I’m booked up’ or ‘I’m so sorry I can’t fit you in’.  The message was so short and snappy I won’t be going to her again.

I purchased a product on an ongoing subscription.  It was something new and I was a little nervous about trying it as the retailer knew.  After my first purchase, the only time I heard from the retailer was to let me know my next month’s payment was due.  There was nothing wrong with the product, but I didn’t feel valued as a customer, or that they cared if I was getting on with the product of not, but that they were only interested in getting money out of me.  Their direct competitor has been in contact more than them and so I am now in the process of switching.

Does any of this resonate with you either as a seller or a buyer?

If you receive either good or bad customer service, take note of it.  If you receive bad customer service, are you guilty of this also?  Be honest with yourself.  If you receive good customer service, do you do this with your business or could you incorporate it in some way?

I’d love to hear any stories of your own that you may have so let me know in the comments below.

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How To Deal With A Customer Complaint

How To Deal With A Customer Complaint

The thing we all hate happens. We get a customer complaint. It is inevitable that we will all get an unhappy customer at times but it is how we deal with them that matters.

We have two choices. We can either go on the defensive and potentially make matters worse, or we can use the opportunity to learn and improve our business for the future.

Problems are pregnant with possibilities

Generally, unless there is a fundamental fault with the product or service you are providing (and which you need to acknowledge and fix immediately), complaints arise from a misunderstanding between parties.

It may something as simple as an order arriving on a date that the customer believes is late but you believe is on time.  This will lead to you needing to set out your delivery policy in a more clear way.

It may be you supply a product such as a handbag and a customer complaint is the bag is not as large as shown in the picture.  This leads to more details needed with your images. Put the bag against something for scale in pictures or quote measurements.

But whatever the complaint, most can be resolved if dealt with in the right manner.

I met a client recently who had received a complaint and her reaction was to say ‘how dare he?’ and tell me how she was going to phone him and tell him in no uncertain terms how unhappy she was with him.  I can just about guarantee 100% with this attitude that this customer will never do business with my client again and will more than likely tell friends and family never to deal with her again either.

I sat her down and asked her to put herself in the customer’s shoes.  Something had happened that caused him to be unhappy and less than satisfied.  Finding out what this was and how to avoid the situation again in the future was imperative.  She needed to look upon this complaint as an opportunity to improve her business so that she did not find herself in the same situation again in the future and to help her improve customer satisfaction to retain other clients.

And again, very recently, I had someone who lost their key client. Why? Because he dared to complain about the standard of work and she took umbrage at this and had an argument with him over it. She is now left struggling to replace the income he took elsewhere.

How to deal with a customer complaint

Stay calm

The first thing to do is to stay calm and try not to take the complaint personally.  The complainant is usually dissatisfied with the product or service and not you personally.  Try to distance yourself and your feelings and put things into perspective.  Taking things personally will only lead to an emotional response that is likely to make matters worse.

Acknowledge the complaint

You then need to acknowledge the customer complaint and apologise for how the complainant is feeling.  This is not accepting responsibility but is showing empathy for how the other person feels and letting them know you wish to help.

Get the complaint in writing

Wherever possible, ask for the complaint in writing.  Or if the person is complaining to you verbally, let them know you are going to write everything down so you can ensure you have all the facts and do not forget anything.  This can help as when someone starts to write, they can realise how unreasonable they may be or how they may have overreacted somewhat.  Also, if they are in front of you and angry, they will see that you cannot write as fast as they speak and so will have to slow down, which in return will give them more time to breathe and calm down.

Take time to review

You do not need to give a solution immediately if you do not want to.  You can let them know that you are going to review the complaint, look into what has happened and will get them back to them with a response in a specified timescale.

This both gives the complainant the satisfaction that you have listened and something is being done and also gives you the time to consider what has happened and what you will do to resolve the situation.

Decide upon a solution or response

Now you need to get on and look into the situation and decide what you are going to do.  This will depend entirely upon your business and what the complaint relates to.  It could be a refund, a product replacement or simply an apology and assurance it won’t happen again if relevant.

If however, you find the complaint to be unfounded, be careful with your response.  Be clear that you have investigated the matter, fully understand their frustration but then explain why you feel there is not a complaint to answer.

Respond to the complainant

Do make sure you feedback to the customer within the timescale given or be prepared for the complaint to be escalated upon.

Always stay calm, speak slowly if talking to the customer, and assure them you are taking the complaint seriously as you value their custom.

Even if you cannot come to an amicable solution, they will hopefully appreciate that you have taken the time and trouble to listen and try to do something for them.

Document every customer complaint

Now document everything.  Just in case this complaint does not get resolved and is taken further, or resurrects its ugly head in the future, make sure you have all conversations and facts documented with dates and time.

The exception to the rule

There is always the exception to the rule of course and you may have the misfortune to come across someone who complains just for the fun of it.  This person is just out to cause trouble and the best thing to do is to apologise for the way they are feeling and state that you are not a good fit for each other and therefore it will be best to not deal with each other again.  Do not let these people bully you or get you to cave in to unreasonable demands.

Mary Angelou

Just remember, the customer will not so much remember what you said, but more how you made them feel.  Do your best to leave them feeling you took the time to take them seriously and valued their custom.  You may not do business with them again, but it may a good case of damage limitation as if they know you genuinely cared, they are less likely to bad mouth you to future prospects.

Hopefully, by using this method, any customer complaint you have will be dealt with amicably and gain you a reputation for excellent customer care.

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How To Stop Clients Cancelling With You

How To Stop Clients Cancelling With You

Do you ever have clients placing an order for your products or services only to cancel a while later?  There may be a very good reason why.

Communication!

Yes, that simple act of keeping in touch and letting them know what is happening behind the scenes can make the difference between a happy customer and one who gets fed up thinking they have been forgotten and decides to take their business elsewhere.

There is no better example of this than when I ran my estate agents.  Other agents were getting complaints and clients cancelling all the time to switch and coming to me.  My clients stayed with me and the business was built on word of mouth recommendations.

Why?

Because I kept in touch.  I put myself in their shoes and kept in mind how they might be feeling.  Whilst my team were busy behind the scenes calling people about their property to book viewings and chasing surveyors and solicitors when a sale was agreed, the homeowner had no idea this was going on.  All they had from other agents was silence.  I made sure that every one of my clients had a call to update them every single week, even if there was nothing new to say.  It made them feel important.  They knew exactly what was going on and appreciated the call.

Yes, it took time and effort but the fact that my estate agency soared whilst others were struggling spoke volumes.

The key to stop clients cancelling

Take a moment to think how often you keep in contact with your clients.  Are you busy working behind the scenes on the behalf putting together their order or working on a project for them?  Do they know this? Are you updating them?  If not, then perhaps it’s time to think again about your communication policy.  Set up a simple database such as CapsuleCRM to keep in contact with everyone and see how much they appreciate it.  This simple step really could be the key to stopping your clients cancelling and going elsewhere.

Just to finish, here are two current examples.  Just this morning I have cancelled an order with a local company for having a sign made as they simply have not kept in contact with me and not sent information to me as promised.  I have chased them no less than three times and yet they have still failed to keep in contact, and I am now fed up.  I have now contacted another company and transferred my order to them.

The other example is with my husband’s laptop which stopped working whilst under guarantee.  We took it back to the shop where it was purchased and they promised to fix it asap.  That was six weeks ago!!!  My husband has called on a number of occasions to get updates and then called again this morning.  They said it was fixed and had been posted back.  If this company had kept us updated and even let us know it was fixed and on the way back, we may have bought from them again.  As they couldn’t be bothered to keep in touch, we have both said we will never buy from them again (and will tell others not to!)

Communication is key

Remember, whatever you do, don’t forget communication is key. If you don’t keep in contact with your prospects and clients, don’t be surprised when they go and buy elsewhere.

 

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How to delight and surprise clients

How to delight and surprise clients

Do you know that one of the best ways to delight and surprise your clients and build raving fans for your business is to do something unexpected to thank them for their business and make them feel appreciated?

However, very few businesses think about thanking their customers for their business. Even fewer actually find original ways to do so.

One of the simplest and best ways to do this is to send them a surprise in the post.  In this world of online technology, receiving something as simple as a handwritten note will make you stand out from the crowd and get you noticed.

Your clients will appreciate that you have taken a few minutes out of your busy day to think just about them.

And you don’t just have to restrict this sentiment to clients.  Why not send something to a prospect that you would like to work with.

How to delight and surprise your clients

It doesn’t have to be expensive to send something personal in the post.  After all, remember the adage that ‘it’s the thought that counts’.

Take a look through the following list to get some ideas flowing:

  • You could simply buy a pack of plain note cards and write a personal message to them.
  • Or buy packs of postcards with motivational quotes on the front and pop a handwritten note on the back.
  • If you see an article in a magazine that is relevant, how about cutting it out and sending to them – so much more effective than sending a link to an online article via email.
  • Consider getting some personalised bookmarks printed up with your branding and sending those out as gifts.
  • Think about sending a voucher to spend with your business. If you are a masseur, hairdresser or provide products, a voucher is easy.  If you are a coach or consultant, create a voucher to redeem for a free 30-minute session with you.
  • Do you have a client that you suspect is feeling tired or overwhelmed? Why not pin a tea bag to a short note telling them to take 5 mins out on you and sit down with a cuppa?  Guaranteed to make them laugh, feel loved and remember you!
  • Or how about sending a small (or large) chocolate bar to give them a treat?
  • For long-standing and valued clients, send a beautiful notebook
  • Or an inspirational book of your choosing
  • Or a gift card ……

These things are inexpensive yet will help build relationships that will generate you much more money in the future through clients who feel nurtured and valued and who will stay loyal to you. Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable.  It has to be special and feel personal.

What ideas do you have to delight and surprise your clients in unexpected ways?  Let me know in the comments below.

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Essential do’s and don’ts when a customer complains on social media

Essential do’s and don’ts when a customer complains on social media

Have you ever had a complaint on social media?

Today, more and more people take to social media to make a complaint.  But there is such a huge difference in how businesses deal with these complaints.

If you get a complaint on social media, do you want to keep that client who complains (and create a raving superfan for your business) or just get rid of them (and take others with them)?

Things go wrong.  If they don’t, you probably aren’t that busy or aren’t trying hard enough.

[Tweet “Things go wrong. If they don’t, you probably aren’t that busy or aren’t trying hard enough.”]

And this past week two retail giants had major problems.  Their websites broke!  Sainsbury’s was online but whatever search went in ended in ‘no results’ available.  Boots UK site was completely down and simply couldn’t be accessed.

Sod’s law dictated these problems happened on the very day that I was trying to do some online ordering.  After numerous frustrated attempts to order what I wanted, I gave up and took to Twitter to ask when they would have their problems rectified.

Within minutes of my tweet to Sainsbury’s, they responded to say they had checked and yes, there was a problem and would report back to me.  In a short while, they tweeted me again to say they were doing their best to rectify the problem and would I bear with them and try to order in a few hours time.

Boots?  The silence was deafening!  No response at all.

Later that evening Sainsbury’s asked if I would send them a contact number so they could speak to me direct.  I duly sent this and they called me to say the site was back up and had I managed to place my order.  I told them that I hadn’t placed my order as time had run out and I had gone elsewhere.   They apologised profusely for the inconvenience caused, told me how much they valued my custom and immediately sent me an e-voucher.

I was impressed.

Boots?  After sending a second tweet they responded 48 hours later to say their site had only been down for one hour.  Utter rubbish, it was down for over 6 hours!  And no further correspondence was had from them.

So what can you learn from these two companies and the way they handled a problem?  As I am sure you can guess, it’s not rocket science.

What to do when you get a complaint on social media

If you get a complaint or a client/customer flags up a problem try the following:

  • Immediately acknowledge there is a problem and it will be looked into
  • Ask for contact details to take the complaint off line
  • Inform the client of when they can expect a response
  • Respond
  • Let them know what went wrong and what has been done to rectify the problem
  • If you and your business were not at fault, there has still been a misunderstanding of some sort so acknowledge this and look into ways of ensuring the misunderstanding or problem does not happen again
  • Let them know how much you value their custom and apologise for inconvenience caused
  • Go over and above to make them feel special and offer them a freebie/voucher or similar to show you genuinely care

This is an effective way of regaining trust and credibility with the client and retaining their custom.

It is also possible they will be so impressed that they will turn back to social media to say how impressed they were with how your problem was handled, raising awareness of your business to others.

 

What not to do when you get a complaint on social media:

  • Ignore them
  • Deny there was a problem – this is basically calling them a liar – not recommended as insult will be taken
  • Get into a public argument
  • Do absolutely nothing to let them know you value their custom

If you do the above, you are most likely to lose their custom forever (there are plenty of other places to buy the same products and services from).

It is also quite probable that the client will take to social media to highlight your poor attitude giving a bad impression of your business to others who may have been thinking of buying from you and will now go look elsewhere.

 

Create a customer care policy

If you don’t have a customer care policy in place, go create one now.  It doesn’t matter if you are a one woman band or a multi-million corporation.  The principle is exactly the same.

Hopefully, you will never have to use it but as the boy scouts famously state, it is always good to be prepared.

 

 

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How to decline a customer request

How to decline a customer request

Have you ever had to decline a customer request?

How do you respond when someone makes a request that is not normally something that you do?  Do you instantly say no, not possible?  Or do you take a moment to consider whether it is something that you would consider helping them with?

Rather than just saying no, consider saying that you will look into it for them and get back with a response at a later time.  This has two benefits.

The first is that you show them respect for their request by not dismissing them instantly.  This can have a far better lasting impression than a straight out no that leaves them unsure of where to go or what to do next.

Too many businesses refuse to stray from the straight and narrow and therefore miss opportunities that are lying right under their noses.  They are too quick to say no, we don’t do that and leave the enquirer feeling dismissed with care and consideration.

[Tweet “Too many businesses refuse to stray from the straight & narrow & therefore miss opportunities that are lying right under their noses”]

Even if you decide that the request is not something that you can deal with, you can go back and let the person know that you have taken the time to consider it, but it is not something that you can personally help with.

It may, however, be the case that you can refer them on to someone else who can help.  This provides value to the person and also to any businesses that receive a referral, all of whom may remember you for your help in the future and feel the need to repay the compliment.  There may even be an opportunity for starting up collaborative working with another business that will pay future dividends to you both.

[Tweet “Look for opportunities to work collaboratively with other businesses that will pay dividends for both of you”]

The second benefit is that by considering requests that are outside of your normal remit gives you an opportunity to consider whether it is something that you could actually incorporate as a product or service into your business.  This could become another revenue stream that you had not previously thought of.

We get all too caught up with our day to day running of our businesses and can sometimes not see the wood for the trees.  By listening to requests, and dealing with them in the appropriate manner, we can find opportunities that may have otherwise passed us by.

Next time you get a request for something that you don’t currently offer, rather than instantly decline a customer, stop and think for a moment as to how you can turn it into a future opportunity for your business whilst providing great customer service at the same time.

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