The 7 Rules for Providing Excellent Customer Service, Every Time

So you’ve exceeded your insanely high sales goal for the latest of your awesome products, your customers love it, and you’re raking in the dough . . . yessss! The end, right?

Not really. The difference between getting a one-time sale and gaining a loyal, shout-to-the-heavens-satisfied customer is the customer service you provide during and after the sale.

headsetIn addition to customer loyalty, providing ahhhhmazing top-to-bottom customer service will most certainly translate into more sales. You might even be missing out on money-making opportunities if this is a part of your business you’ve been skimping on.

You can be your own rockin’ customer service rep with these top customer service skills:

Rule #1: Empathizing

Displaying real, genuine empathy is one of the most important backbones of excellent customer service. People can tell when you’re brushing them off, so to be successful on this front, you really need to be able to understand the problems, questions, and concerns your customers have. It’s not always easy to rustle up empathy for someone who’s enraged about something YOU did; often it can feel downright impossible. But those tough interactions will go so much better if you can successfully communicate how much you truly care that the problem gets settled ASAP.

Rule #2: Anticipating Needs and Knowing Your Product

If you’re providing a service or selling a product, you better be able to answer basic questions that may come up. You’re taking people’s hard earned money, and it’s understandable that they want to feel comfortable before investing in what you have to offer. Before you launch, make a list of every question you (or a trusted second-eye) can think of and write out some answers. Save even more time by using a tool like Textexpander to insert specific pieces of text into any email using keyboard shortcuts.

*Just because you’ve outlined every possible detail somewhere on your sales or FAQ page doesn’t mean you won’t get tons of questions anyway. Just saying: be prepared.

Rule #3: Being Available

It may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to respond quickly to your customers (and potential customers). If it takes you five days to respond to a billing question during a normal workweek, you aren’t prioritizing customer service. Constantly missing your promised 2 business-day help ticket response time? You need to get that straightened out fast, otherwise you run the real risk of losing the sale or repeat business in the future.

Rule #4: Being Honest

Honesty is the best policy. There’s just no other way around it: don’t lie to customers. Period. Intentional dishonesty is fraudulent behavior, and there is no better way to drive people (a.k.a. potential customers!) away. I don’t even have to mention the obvious moral, ethical, or legal problems you could have to deal with if you fib on the regular.

Rule #5: Following Through

Keep communication open between you and your customers, and do what you say you’re going to. If you say you’ll be following up on some issue for a customer, don’t just toss that matter aside—follow up! Don’t try to keep everything in your head, though. Use a tool like Boomerang to set up inbox-specific reminders and make good use of your calendar and its alerts!

Rule #6: Being Flexible

Payment policies, refund policies, registration and purchase deadlines, standard operating procedures—you’d be hard-pressed to find any business that doesn’t have any boring ol’ policies it abides by. Rules and policies are absolutely there for a reason, but there are times when breaking them is necessary.

A lot of customer service is about perception, and being perceived as inflexible and unwilling to work with customers is probably not a label you want associated with your brand. You’re not always going to make everybody happy with the way you run your business. When you can’t give the customer exactly what they want, try to let them down easy. And don’t forget, it’s waaay better to briefly explain why you can’t accommodate them (if it makes sense to, of course)—and maybe even provide alternatives—than it is to just say no.

Rule #7: Saying ‘Thank You’

Last but not least, don’t ever forget to thank your customers for doing business with you! You’re fantastic at what you do, and you’ve created some great products and offer tremendously valuable services. That said, you simply wouldn’t be thriving if it weren’t for the audience and customer base you’ve worked so hard to build. Social media is a great way to thank both your customers and your tribe – everyone loves a public shoutout, especially when it’s an unexpected one!

Your turn:

What are some of the tough customer service situations you’ve had to deal with, and what techniques did you find helped the most to smooth things over? Let’s compare notes right here in the comments!

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About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. She is the creator of the social media scheduling software Edgar, as well as social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.

Comments

  1. Great post! Thanks for the solid how-to write-up on customer service – I read a lot of mediocre ones before landing on yours. I included it in my latest blueprint on how to turn your business into a raging success: http://www.lizlockard.com/start-a-business/ – thanks!