Having good customer service skills is crucial to having a successful business. It ranks right up there with having a useful product or service that people want and pricing it correctly.
The Importance of Customer Service Skills – One Owner’s Experience
1. Value Your Customers
In our web design business, we value our customers. Without them, we would be in bad shape. The old adage “the customer is always right” may not always be the best course of action, but we do need to remember and express to our clients that their opinions matter.
For example, we have had the experience of creating what we feel is a beautiful website with nice coordinating colors. When we show the site to our client, they may have a different opinion about the website colors we chose. If what they want is still attractive and well-coordinated, that's fine; it's an easy fix. However, if they are asking for colors that really don't go well with each other or colors that will not resonate with their audience, we have to do some negotiation. At no time during that process, though, is it acceptable to make them feel like they are making a bad choice or have poor taste.
We will normally create a page with the colors they have suggested and let them see it. We show it to them along with a page with the original color choices. And then we work with them to come up with a combination of colors that they are happy with and that will benefit the purpose of the site.
To delight customers with your service, there must be patience and respect. Everyone is different and has unique ideas of what they want. Even though we have done web design for over ten years, we do not automatically assume that what we prefer will match or be better than our clients’ preferences.
We have found it helpful to have a flexible attitude and work schedule. We may have a list of tasks we want to get done, but if we get a call from a client with an urgent request, if it's at all possible, we put our own projects aside and attend to the issue they are having.
2. Caring is Key
I believe that if you really care about what you do and the people you work with, it becomes much easier to offer exceptional customer service, which is another reason to choose a profession that you enjoy. If you love what you do, you will attract others who like it too. That is the foundation of a successful business.
It's important to gain your clients' trust and respect. This requires that you consistently put them first and meet their needs. It takes time but will be worth it.
Have You Felt Like This?
We've all had the experience of feeling like a company didn't really care if they kept us as a customer because their service reflected that attitude. You should never treat your customers like that. We want to have a long-term relationship with our customers, and we truly want to see their business succeed. Having business goals and dreams ourselves, we know how important it is to see them fulfilled. We want to help our customers do the same, and we believe that having an attractive, welcoming, and well-functioning website is part of that equation.
3. Evaluate Your Customer Service Skills
When evaluating your customer service, think about the experiences you have had. Which ones have been good ones? What elements made them good?
When trying to get something resolved, it’s very frustrating if the person/company that you need to get in touch with is unresponsive. In our business, we have to submit support tickets to resolve a problem. We will often get an automated email to say that our ticket has been received and this is very helpful. It's even more helpful if we are given a time frame for the actual response.
Show You Care
In all honesty, taking care of a customer's problem isn't always your top priority. Remember, however, that the problem is very important to your client or they wouldn't be contacting you. Work with them to resolve it as quickly as possible. Give your customers’ needs high importance.
Accuracy and Follow-Through
If you are solving a problem that may take some time, be honest about how long you think it will take. Don't sugar coat it as that will cause frustration to your customer when you cannot meet your time estimate.
We had an experience with a computer company many years ago when our laptop was under warranty and not working. We made numerous calls to the company because they did not keep to the time frame they told us. This caused us much frustration and as a result, we have never purchased that brand of computer again. Make good on your word.
People who may not be the nicest to deal with will call your company. Keep your integrity. Treat them as you would want to be treated (it's nice if they do the same, but we cannot control that). It helps to think ahead to the end of the call. How do you want to feel about the way you handled it?
If you have professional customer service skills, you will stand out from your competition. You will build your reputation as someone others want to do business with. And isn't that the goal?
Dan Neumann is the owner of Inspire Website Design where he works with his wife to provide professional and affordable web design to small business owners. You can find him on Twitter @inspireweb3.