As a small business owner, your customers are your bread and butter. Without these valued people, your business wouldn’t survive. It only makes sense, then, that one of your ongoing goals is the improvement of the customer service that you and your employees provide. While you may not have the overhead to send employees off for training in order to improve their skills, there are several easy things that you can do on your own to keep your customers coming back for more.
If you have the type of operation where your receptionists or other employees have to leave the front desk to perform other duties, an entry alarm will be invaluable. These alarms will alert your employees that a customer has walked into your business, and that an employee needs to hustle back to the front. Nothing is worse in a customer’s eyes than walking into a store or business and seeing no one available to offer service. Without an entry alarm, you can be guaranteed that your customer will walk down the street to your competition.
Have you ever walked into a store, doctor’s office or other business expecting service, only to stand and wait for employees to finish their conversation before they wait on you? This activity is annoying to customers. Discourage your employees from congregating at the front desk to talk about their nights out and other gossip. If you have two or more employees that work at the front desk, conversations are bound to take place. Make sure that your workers understand that these conversations are to cease immediately if someone walks through your front door.
It’s difficult to avoid being pleasant to someone who is smiling at you. It’s also difficult to not have a good experience when the people serving you are pleasant and happy. The simple act of smiling, and encouraging your employees to do the same, will have customers coming back for more. Encourage your employees to leave their bad marriage, argument with the kids and other baggage at home.
Customer service can be basic or it can be outstanding. Think of how you woul like to be treated when you walk into a business. There are always little things that you can do to offer more to your customers than the next guy. If you sell goods, toss in a sample of a new product. Offer to carry your customer’s heavy or large bags to their car. Instead of asking, “Is there anything else?” ask, “What else can I help you with today?” Even small changes in the way that you phrase questions can improve your customers’ experience.
Phone manners can be taught with scripts. Until your employees get used to the way that you expect them to answer the phones, hang a short script near every phone in your business. Every employee should answer the phone in the same way, using a steady pace of voice and with a smile on his or her face. You script should go something like this: “Hello. (Name of business). This is (name of employee). How may I help you?” Your phone should be answered, when possible, on the first ring, and it should never take more than three rings. If an employee needs to put a customer on hold, encourage your employees to ask, “May I please put you on hold for a moment?” instead of simply commanding, “Hold, please.”
There are dozens of small changes that you can make in your business to improve customer service. None of these things cost thousands of dollars and all are easy to implement. One of the best things that you can do is to decide how you would like to be treated as a customer and to treat your own the same way.