The customer is king, and local business owners would be smart to treat them as such. In order to ensure that you’re always able to offer your customers the best experience, here are some tips for before, while, and after you serve customers.
Before You Serve Customers
- Plan ahead and be ready. Be sure that procedures are perfected and finalized so that you can focus entirely on the customer. If anything fails to go according to plan, you will be forced to deal with something unexpected, and the customer might become agitated. Ensuring that nothing goes awry will allow you to maintain control and focus exclusively on your temperament towards the customer.
- There is only so much that you can control and account for. Sometimes, you will have to react to something quickly while maintaining your professionalism. While big businesses benefit from systems and structures, small businesses have to operate off the cuff. Embrace this spontaneity – have fun with it, create lasting memories and develop some great long-term customer relationships.
While You Serve Customers
- When you’re with the customer, focus solely on their experience. This is why your operational fortitude is important – rest assured knowing that everything on your end is functioning properly. At this point, you can fully cater to the customer’s needs.
- Address your customers by name. Personalizing your customer’s experience will show them that they are valued.
- Treat your staff the same way that you treat your customers. Treating everyone well will allow customers to feel comfortable and it reflects well upon you as a business owner.
- Good customer service does not just involve how you interact with customers. Customer service is a combination of your product, procedures and people. Having a good product goes a long way, but procedures and people are crucial. Your procedures (how your business operates and deals with customers) determine how professional you seem and how efficiently you are able to deal with customers. People (your employees and customers) determine your shop’s environment, so in hiring people and instructing them how to deal with customer, you ultimately dictate this.
- Be empathetic. Although your ultimate goal is to make money, the customer’s isn’t. The customer wants to feel valued and receive value for their money. Placing yourself in the customer’s shoes and thinking about the things that matter to them will go a long way. In the long run, valuing customers above all else and empathizing with them will create a situation where sustainable profits come easily.
- Make your shop welcoming. Your shop’s appearance determines how new customers perceive your business at first brush, and significantly influences how customers view your business in general. Ensuring that your shop is clean, inviting, and comfortable is crucial.
- Under-promise and over-deliver, or at least promise and deliver. You never want to get caught over-promising and under-delivering. Customers will leave your shop disappointed, and it will be unlikely that they’ll return. Be realistic and customers will have a hard time finding something be disappointed about.
After You Serve Customers
- Social media and online review sites make it so you are automatically always in a two-way dialogue with customers, so be sure to use this to your advantage. Maintain your online presence, use review sites to manage customer relationships, and never hesitate to admit a fault and remedy it.
- Make sure that you have – and customers are aware of – multiple avenues for communication. A single method of communication with customers can be a bottleneck. Different customers are comfortable communicating over different mediums, so you need to be available for regular, open, and honest communication with all of your customers.
- Actively make an effort to keep existing customers. A consistently good customer experience is the best form of advertising. Many companies spend a lot of money on customer acquisition, but they focus very little on customer retention. Retained customers cost less, so they’re more profitable.