I was just reading this article, Customer Service: The Importance of Quality Customer Service and it really resonated with me. I have heard several people cite poor customer service as a reason they do not shop at local businesses.
Now, I have had poor customer service at a LOT of places, both national chains and mom and pop shops. The difference is that most independent places really can’t afford to skimp on customer service. Not only will it drive their existing customers into the arms of their competitors, it is a missed opportunity to differentiate themselves from big box stores whose employees can’t be bothered to stop texting long enough to help customers.
An excerpt from the article are these four rules.
Rule #1: Listen! When customers complain there is a reason. More importantly, it is an opportunity to learn something, so hear them out without interrupting or arguing.
Rule #2: Don’t take it personally. Customer complaints are about products or service that did not live up to their expectations or the marketing hype. Taking it personally, getting defensive, or getting angry only makes the situation worse.
Rule #3: Offer a sincere apology for the inconvenience. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Remember what it feels like when something you have purchased did not do the job it was supposed too, or caused an even bigger problem than the one it was supposed to solve.
Rule #4: Never say, “It’s not my job or my department or my responsibility.” If you work at the company that made the product or sold the service – it is your job! Make a personal commitment to do whatever it takes to fix the problem even if it is not in your job description.
These seem like pretty good rules to me!
A handy little pnemonic I learned in my other life as a nonprofit project manager is AARP.
- Acknowledge – Hey, I messed up and you suffered the consequences.
- Apologize – I am really sorry this happened to you.
- Repair – This is how I can fix it or make it up to you. (As much as is possible – sometimes its not.)
- Put In Place – Here is what I will do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
What are your customer service rules? As a consumer, how do local businesses get it RIGHT?