- Corey Agnew
Great Customer Service=Happy Client
I want to talk about how to provide great service. Sometimes we get so focused on completing the job for our customers, that we lose sight of customer service.
Bad customer service is a great way to ensure our customers are not repeat customers. All of our customers have many options for their needs, its usually great customer service that brings them back.
We want to give our clients outstanding service at reasonable prices to ensure they will continue a relationship with us. We want to increase our number of clients. We want to grow our business and evolve. If you can align yourself with any of these goals, you likely are already working to improve your professional life in some way. If you are more interested in just getting through the day with as little effort as possible, this article isn't for you.
I've always worked in some sort of service-based industry. It started with mowing lawns and washing cars as a kid. Throughout high school and college, I worked in restaurants, and also joined the local fire department and became a Firefighter/EMT. After college I started as a Field Technician in Environmental Consulting and managed some small projects before becoming a full-time Project Manager.
I ran operations for a growing biodiesel company where we picked up used kitchen grease from hundreds of restaurants in several states. Through some consulting gigs, I ended up in the fuel quality world. I've worn different hats but the one common denominator is that I have been expected to deliver a service in each role I took on.
Throughout the years, the lessons have been tough. I hate making mistakes. I've made some bone-headed mistakes that I still cringe about. But in all honesty, the best lessons come from mistakes. The important thing is to immediately recognize it, own it, and learn how to avoid it from happening again. Repeating the same mistakes shouldn't happen. Here are some of my most important lessons:
1) Be honest, always. If a client asks you a question that you don't have an answer to, DON'T MAKE ONE UP. It's better to say "I don't know, but I will find out for you" rather than promising something you can't deliver
2) Show up on time. If something comes up and you won't be able to make it to your appointment on time, CALL AHEAD. Let the person you are meeting know as soon as you realize you'll be late. More importantly, give them an accurate estimate of your arrival. If your GPS says 35 minutes to destination, don't tell them "I'm 15 minutes down the road".
3) Do not promise what you can't deliver. Under-promise, over-deliver.
4) Understand the need of your client. Everyone is different and being flexible is part of success. Try to really "get" what your client is looking to achieve. If you understand why they are coming to you, you'll be able to deliver them a better service. Your service should fit their needs.
5) Be available every time, answer your phone. I don't particularly enjoy answering the phone after hours or on the weekend and clients probably don't like calling me then either, but I do it because I want my clients to know they can rely on me. Sometimes I cannot answer the phone, but I send a text telling them when I will be able to get back to them. Either way, always communicate back, if someone is calling you, they need an answer.
6) The best defense is a good offense, own up to mistakes when they happen before your client finds out. They will find out. The world I live in, I can't hide anything and I can never lie. See #1. Be forthcoming about what mistakes happened and have a good plan to fix it before you approach your client. People respect when someone admits to a mistake, just make sure you can prevent it from happening a second time.
7) Clients are people, develop a personal relationship. You don't have to get all soft and mushy, but don't treat your client like a number. Ask your client about their position and what they are trying to achieve or what their challenges are. Be yourself occasionally and sometimes be willing to have conversations outside of your scope of work.
8)Serve your customers the way you would want to be served. It's that simple.
Thanks for taking the time to read. Please share if you liked this article. Let me know if you have any topic suggestions for future articles. - Corey Agnew