by Ted Coiné
I wrote my first book, Five-Star Customer Service, with one simple premise in mind: you don’t have to charge Ritz-Carlton prices to give Ritz-Carlton service! After all, a sincere smile costs you nothing, but that alone can build you an empire – just ask Chick Fil-A how that type of warmth is working for them as they compete for customers with McWendy King.
No matter what business you’re in, you can make Five-Star Customer Service your calling card as well. Begin with some of the “12 Quick Tips” I share with each of my Five-Star audiences.
Everyone else out there is making the same sloppy mistakes, treating their customers poorly – and setting expectations low. Follow these suggestions and lock your customers in for life.
Remember, Spoiled = Loyal. Spoil your customers with your outstanding customer service.
1. Make your company a H.I.T.
Hire for attitude. Inspire through pride. Train in skills.
In. That. Order.
Remember: you can teach job-skills to anyone with half a brain, as long as their mind is open to learning. Attitude is key. When hiring, start there or suffer the consequences.
2. “It’s not my fault, but it is my problem” – Disney
Don’t take complaints personally. …But do solve them. The buck stops with you, no matter where you land on the org chart.
3. You are always on a job interview
Who’s to say that your client’s dorky intern won’t be your biggest customer three years from now, or your next boss? Give the same unrivaled level of customer service to everyone you meet, all week long.
4. If it works for Stew…
This one is written in stone outside Stew Leonard’s, “The World’s Largest Dairy Store.” If it works for Stew… I’d at least give it a try if I were you.
Rule #1 – The customer is always right
Rule #2 – If the customer is ever wrong, reread Rule #1
Of course customers make mistakes: they’re people, too! But you’ve got to stop thinking like that, or you’ll never provide Five-Star Customer Service. If the customer wants it, your only desire should be to provide it.
5.You are never fully dressed without a smile
Down? Cranky? That’s for amateurs; your competition. Can’t smile? Call in sick.
6. Replies to “thank you”
2-star answer: “No problem.”
3-star answer: “You’re welcome.”
5-star answer: “My pleasure.”
Be the 5-star “My Pleasure” Guy… or Gal. People will love doing business with you.
7. Don’t fuss at your customer
(A) “We aren’t really supposed to do that, but I’ll make an exception this once, as a courtesy.”
(B) “I’d be more than happy to help you with that. What else can I do for you? Really; what else?”
8. “My job is to make your job easier”
This should be the mantra of every member of your company – and no one should take it more seriously than the top brass. Leap tall buildings to make your workers’ jobs easier. Encourage them to make your customers’ jobs easier. Then buy your own island.
9. Act as if your customer’s business were your own
Always start a sale by asking yourself, “If I were in my customer’s shoes, would I really benefit from this?” Keep that attitude throughout your relationship. Serve your customer ahead of yourself; your customer will take care of you, so you won’t have to.
10. Give conservative estimates of time and money required for any project
Your clients expect projects to get off schedule and run over budget; it makes them tense, and they’ll resent you for it before you even start your work. Stun them by completing projects early and coming in under-budget. Earn residual sales and referrals.
11. President/CEO: call your clients “just to check in”
A sincere and unexpected “How are we doing?” call from #1 will blow your clients away – and that moment-of-truth experience will lock them in for life. Watch your referrals multiply, and enjoy the share of your clients’ wallets you gain as a result.
Communicate. Appreciate. Respect. Encourage.
Demonstrate through your every action that you C.A.R.E., a stupendous movement started by Al Smith. And you can start by practicing The 15/5 Rule, which I spell out in my recent post on the C.A.R.E. site. I hope you check it out!
…And if customer service is your thing, I can’t recommend the #custserv twitter chat group enough. The conversation is active and awesome all week long. Every Tuesday at 9 pm Eastern (that’s New York time), dive into one of the most active, fastest chats ever! It is chock-full of authors and CEOs mixing it up with front-line CSRs and small business professionals. It’s as egalitarian as it is stupendously educational… and the friendships you build will last a lifetime!
Ted Coiné is the business heretic at the helm of the Catalyst blog. Author and speaker, futurist, and happily-former CEO, Ted is currently writing his third book, Catalyst, about how business will be done in this exciting new century. Follow him on Twitter and join the conversation on #leadbiz.