We sometimes assume that all of our customers are 100% satisfied just because we do not hear from them, but that is not necessarily the truth. In fact, it is important to be in tune with our customers satisfaction rate, especially in a small company trying to build a reputation. And not a bad one. The problem is you might be wonderful at creating and distributing an awesome product, but not so great with the whole customer relationship building.
To maintain that quality relationship with customers that is so important for any business, here are a few tricks to avoid, and what to do instead:
Tricks to Avoid:
1. Promising, But Not Delivering
Never promise something at a specific time if you can’t deliver it. Period.
This is one of the worst tricks you can play on a client, and is extremely unprofessional. If you can’t do something in the time allotted, own up to it, and suggest an alternative time line. But never set your customer’s expectations unreasonably high. This is unfair to the client, and unfair to your business. Its setting yourself up for failure.
Treat your customers right by providing an alternative time line with much more reasonable expectations. Explain that the time given is not going to be enough, but that if given a certain extension you will not have a problem. If your client is unhappy about your unwillingness to commit to this decided upon timeline, be gentle, but firm with them about the fact that you are not trying to be deceptive or promise something you cannot possibly do. Its always better to lose the client before you failed than it is to go willingly towards your failure. Besides, clients appreciate honesty and transparency, and even if they find someone else able to deliver faster, you know you didn't ruin your reputation for that customer. And if the client does decide to agree to the new deadline, work hard to make it as close to that originally desired deadline if at all possible.
2. Being Unresponsive
A client asks you a question or requests you get in contact with them. You’re just so busy with the holidays coming up, and this client can wait a few days, right?
Now you shouldn’t be at your customers beck and call every hour of every day, but avoiding a customer is not going to gain their trust or command their confidence. Being hard to reach is a huge red flag of poor customer service and it shows that you do not value their business as you probably should.
If the problem the customer is presenting is a complex one that needs research and time, let your customer know that. Don’t make yourself unreachable, instead be transparent about the issues you may be facing and what is happening to resolve them. You don’t have to be super detailed, just generally let that client know what is going on. They’ll at least know you didn’t forget about them.
And don’t forget the power of the telephone. It may seem outdated in this age of email and internet communication, but you should not only be reaching out to customers with personal calls, but also let them reach out to you on their own terms through a phone call.
3. Avoiding Responsibility
So, let's say you made a mistake. An ugly and embarrassing mistake. Well, there's always loads of people you can push responsibility upon, sometimes you can even blame the client for poor communication, but is this really the best way to treat your clients?
Own your mistake, it happens. And find a way to make it right. Even if its not entirely your fault, it really doesn't matter who is to blame. Instead, focus on fixing the issue, not placing the blame. Whether this fix means that you literally pay for the mistake by taking the cost upon your company, or you find some other way to make it up to them. But never beat around the bush or pass blame off on someone else. It doesn’t inspire confidence and won’t help you grow your business in any way. We all make mistakes, it is how we handle them that will make the difference.
4. Insisting On Your Own Way
Customers may not always like the way you do things. They may suggest changes for the future, or request a change in the present. And you may argue that you are the expert, and that your customers don’t have any feedback that would be of use to you, right? Think again.
Be grateful your customers are making an attempt to communicate any issues with you. Many customers may not have gone to that great of an effort. So treat them to your best customer service by making the issue right, and learning from their feedback. As we already established, nobody is perfect, and if your customer really cares enough to let you know about an issue, than you know you have fostered a good relationship so far. Don’t ruin it now.
Being human and real with your customers is the best way to handle any service issues you may encounter. It comes down to authenticity with clients: they can tell when your trying to be something your not. And while it might be okay to dress up and be someone else for a Halloween Party, it is never a good idea for any business relationship.