Giving amazing customer service is imperative to the success of any business. No matter how big or small, the way you treat your customers should always be at the forefront of your objectives. What’s more is that the world in which your business operates is dynamic – and your customers will change too. Meaning your service strategy should regularly be analysed, adapted, and improved.

‘Customer service is your branding’ comes from a great article by Micah Solomon (Forbes 2015). Customers’ first impressions of who you are is your brand – so it goes much deeper than just looks. Service plays a huge part in this too – yet so many forget this.

After over 14 years in customer service roles, I have experienced bundles of situations. Each and every one has helped me learn about people, and has reflected on the company’s brand.

So here are my top 8 helpful ways to give excellent customer service.

1. No Customer is The Same

Businesses can sometimes forget this simple yet powerful thing. The problem is, staff get into a routine and repeat a process or script when working. Thus the customer can feel part of a ‘machine’ and don’t feel valued as an individual. Every customer is different and the trick is to quickly learn about them. Where are they from? What are their needs? Then match this to the features of your service you provide. What’s more is that your customers will also change over time – as will service – so remember to keep it fresh by reviewing your style every now and again.

2. Expect the Unexpected

This is a top lesson anyone working in a service-orientated business should consider. People are somewhat unpredictable and you should always be on guard. Experience, practice, and good (regular) training will help ensure you’re ready for anything. Write down three new things you learned each week about service. E.g. A customer was unhappy with a haircut. Why did this occur? How would you improve how you handled it? What can you do in the future?

3. Face to Face Service isn’t The Only Way

Speaking with your customer face to face is powerful, yes. To interact with them in person is great for building and maintaining those all-important business relationships. But it’s not the only way. Remember point 1 about every customer being different? Well, they all prefer different methods of communication too. Some may lead busy lives and may not have the time to pop in or make a call to book your service. Some may prefer to have you send confirmations via text or email, especially in today’s technology focused world. The thing is, your customer should be able to choose which method of communication suits them best – and business owners should have a range of channels on offer to ensure success against the competition.

4. The Way You Communicate Affects Your Brand

So let’s look a bit deeper into the important topic of communication. Body language, eye contact, and tone of voice can all affect how your service is perceived to your customers. This goes across cultures and individuals so, again, you must learn as much as possible about your customer. Digging even deeper, the words you choose in things such as your website, social media pages, email, texts all reflect your brand. And your brand and its service is what you’re selling. So what to do is make sure your staff are briefed on your tone of voice, make sure this is consistent across all channels (or even tailored slightly for each channel and customer), and be proud of absolutely everything you put out to your customers as it all amounts to ultimately what they think of you.

5. Happy Staff = Happy Customers

It might be obvious, but if your staff aren’t satisfied, neither will your customers be. If they aren’t motivated, engaged, or proud of the service they provide, your customer will see straight through them. You may not even notice this is happening right under your nose as it’s sometimes hard to detect. But spend a little time each day analysing your staff and how they interact (at every point, calls, email, face to face). Everyone has off-days, but spotting this early one morning could prevent it continuing onto other customers. Because every customer matters to the success of your business. So make sure your staff are happy and if not, find a way to fix it with talking, re-training, or incentives. Remember: people can be good at hiding the way they feel, so keep a close eye and read the warning signs. Customers are perceptive to this.

6. Keeping Connected Makes Them Feel Appreciated

Every customer matters, so you should find ways to keep them coming back. One way of doing this is to regularly update them on current offers, promotions and news. The more informed they are, the happier they will be. They aren’t always going to be able to come to you – and you won’t always have time to message each one separately – so make sure you have some simple, easy, effective tools to help you do this. Keep regularly connected and keep it fresh, relevant, and in line with your objectives.

7. Get Personal But Stay Professional

Giving excellent service requires a non-stop positive attitude, no matter what’s thrown at you. And when it’s going well, you can sometimes get comfortable and over familiar. Friendliness is key to making guests feel welcome and relaxed. Equally, you are at work, which requires some level of professionalism because remember: you are selling and they are buying. You are a business and there always should be an element of that attitude evident in the service you (and your staff) give.

8. Making People Happy Doesn’t Have to be Time Consuming

When you’re busy, it’s hard to juggle everything at once. Some customers require more attention and care than others. And it always seems to be when you are run off your feet. It’s taken years to master the art of keeping people happy in an efficient way, but it is possible. If there’s a queue, all it takes is eye contact or a smile to the customers waiting, just to acknowledge their presence. May seem simple, but it is forgotten in so many places. If you run your business online or by telephone and there’s a query at a busy time, just reply saying you’ll get back to them soon. Just doing this makes customers feel they are appreciated, and most will understand. The key is to talk to as many customers as possible, get more confident, and therefore more productive, with the time you do have so that they get served quicker but still receive the best of what you’re offering.

So what now? Here are 3 steps to improving your customer service:

Step 1: Analyse your current customer service style

How are you and your staff communicating with your customers? What channels are you using?

Is the tone, style, and level of friendly vs. professional all in line with what you’re offering?

Are they the most suitable options for what your customers want?

Step 2: Schedule a team meeting

Get your staff together and see what they think. Share recent service experiences and what you learned. What happened? Why did it happen? What can we all learn from this? How can it be improved next time? Write down the key points to take away and remember.

Step 3: Put it into action

Select a few of the points and start putting them into practice. Could it be communicating with your customers more often? Could it be training your staff on how to give excellent service in busy times?

Remember: every time you interact with your customers, and how you make them feel, all reflects on your brand. And ultimately, if they feel welcomed, appreciated, and well-served, your business will be more successful because of it.

So regularly check-up on your customer service strategy and analyse, adapt, and never stop improving. So how can you put this into action?  Try Appointedd 14 day free trial.

Published on 12 February 2016