Customer service skills are one of the cornerstones of owning a successful business. Through online reviews and word of mouth the voice of each customer travels far so it is good to know if you are turning people off or drawing them in.
Is your customer service causing potential clients to sing your praises or are they sending people in another direction? Here are 3 easy ways to assess your customer service skills and tips on how to adjust them in order to increase retention and referrals.
Do you offer transactional service?
Transactional service is giving in order to receive. You are looking for a transaction; give and get. The best customer service comes from a genuine place. Are you serving your customers in a way that truly fills their needs regardless of what you may get in return? If not, then you may be spinning your wheels and building up unnecessary frustration. The good thing is, most customers appreciate being taken care of and feel the need to return the favor. Once you change your focus from inward to outward, you will see a change in the perspective of each customer as well.
Tip: If you have trouble with transactional service here is a way to start changing your focus. Before a consultation or meeting with a client, write down a list of ways that you can help them that may not favor you or your business directly (extra time to listen to their story or even offer legal connections or advice without charging) and make a point to do or offer this service within your meeting. People want to be around those they feel truly care about their problems and can offer a way out. By focusing on the person rather than the transaction you will build a stronger rapport and less stress to make a sale.
Is your time quantity or quality driven?
Let’s say you only have two hours to meet with clients. Do you (a) schedule out 5-10 minute sections so you can fit in as many clients as possible? Or (b) give a standard 30-60 minute consultation for each client? If your answer is a- you are quantity driven and b- you are quality driven. While (a) may give you the opportunity to see more clients in a day, (b) will give you the highest rate of return. No customer wants to feel rushed or like they aren’t being heard. When you are quantity driven it tends to instill distrust and turn potential clients away.
Tip: Set up a consultation schedule and ask the customer how much time they need. This accommodation will exceed the expectations of each potential client, establish trust and make them feel more in control of the interaction. In return, this also allows you to be more precise with meeting times which will increase quality conversations without feeling like you are missing out on others.
Are you proactive?
No situation goes as smoothly as we would hope. The fact is things will go wrong at one time or another. Do you have systems in place to make sure you are ready when your original plan does not work out? Being proactive about possible worst case scenarios is one of the best and most surprising ways you can serve your customers.
Tip: Before making any promises or even stern statements to a customer, be sure to have a Plan B and C. Express these alternative plans to your customer so they have realistic expectations and of the situation and can be ensured you are in control if anything happens.
How did you do? If you give exceptional customer service you will substantially increase both retention and referrals. Whether customers talk or walk after meeting with you is completely your choice. Either way they carry with them a message to others. Build your customer service skills and be the one they are raving about!