Trying to make your business stand out from the crowd can involve a lot of contributing factors, but if there’s one thing you should prioritise it’s your customer service. Nothing gets you a great reputation like very happy customers, and nothing drives them away like a bad experience.

Honing your customer service takes time and practice, and there are some things that only experience can teach you, but there are some small changes you can make that will give you noticeable results in the short term.

1. Colours, sounds, and smells

It’s partly common sense, but the environment of your business has to be comfortable and inviting for your customers to enjoy being there. This is particularly important for services such as salons or spas, but really goes for anywhere. It’s been proven that the colours, sounds, and smells that surround us affect our mood, and the good news is that this can be worked to your advantage.

So think about what atmosphere you want to create. Often, generating the right mood starts with the colours you choose for your business. Warm tones such as reds, oranges, and yellows are good for energising and making people feel happy; cool tones like blues and greens are good for soothing and relaxing. Likewise, think carefully about the music you play: just turning on the radio and playing the charts works for a salon where the atmosphere is fun and youthful, but if you’re trying to give your customers an oasis of tranquility you might want to stick some harp melodies on instead.

Smell is often overlooked when trying to create an atmosphere, but when you think about your favourite brands they probably have smells that you associate with them. Think luxury stores with their unique scents, or cafés that waft you with artisan coffee smells as you walk in. It’s a subtle and subconscious way of giving customers a positive association with your business.

2. Asking questions

Salons are well-known for their chatty approach to clients, but there’s no reason why other businesses can’t take a leaf out of their book. The easiest way to make a customer happy is to ask them simple, genuinely interested questions. “How’s your day going?” or “Any plans for this afternoon?” It shouldn’t be probing or insistent, but just a small amount of conversation will make the difference between a average, forgettable service and a memorable, enjoyable interaction. Giving your staff some instruction about the kind of things to ask will make them more confident when dealing with customers and help to build rapport and customer loyalty.

3. Communication

Nobody likes being spammed with marketing emails, but valuable communication is important for giving your customers a great experience with your business. When you get in touch with clients make sure you have something to offer, like a promotion or information about a new service. It’s also hugely beneficial to take the time to reply and interact with your customers online, via Twitter or Facebook for example. Responding to queries or reciprocating likes is a fantastic way to endear people to your brand.

Another great way to make your customer’s experience hassle-free and seamless is to send them reminders when they have an appointment coming up, because appointment cards can get lost and things can be forgotten. You can set up automatic text reminders with Appointedd really easily, and it’s a tiny thing that makes your operation look miles more organised and professional. It can also reduce no-shows by up to 67%!

4. Getting stuck in

Although having well-trained, friendly staff in place is a must (especially if you have more than one business to run!) there’s no substitute for getting some face time with the customers yourself if you want to keep up with what’s going on. It’s a good way to lead by example when it comes to your staff in terms of how you want them to represent the business, and it’s nice for the clients to talk to the boss in person. It’s important to keep in touch with the reason for the business in the first place (hint: it’s the customers!) and spend some time on the front line to make sure you don’t become too removed from what’s going on there day-to-day.

Excellent customer service is not a one-size-fits-all deal, and it’s made up of lots of little things that listen to and preempt the needs of the individual client. But there are some things that go down well with pretty much anyone, and that’s a good place to start!

Published on 5 April 2016