Archive for May, 2013

Continuation of Rules for Great Customer Service!

May 17, 2013
Are you giving Ultimate Customer Service to your clients?

Are you giving Ultimate Customer Service to your clients?

If you have been following my discussion of the last few weeks, you will have already read a couple of articles on Customer Service. The rules are not all-encompassing, just a starting point that is meant to make you think about the all-encompassing aspects of customer service. We have already covered the initial four rules for great customer service and this entrance includes the final four rules.

As a reminder, the first four rules include Answer the phoneDon’t make promises unless you will keep them, Listen to your customer,  and Deal with complaints. In this post, we will extend those areas to include several other rules that should be observed if you hope to have great customer service.

We will start with one that is a challenge to many, especially those who are self-employed. Be helpful-even if there is no immediate profit in it.  This is especially difficult for those who need to maximize their efforts towards creating income and profit for their business. I have seen many who limit the amount of helpfulness they will give if they cannot see immediate results in terms of being profitable. This is especially true in the real estate industry and other such professions. Lawyers are not inclined to give free consultations because there is no income in if for them.

In my business, I give away many hours a week to people asking questions about the market, most of which are not actually interested in buying or selling a home. They simply have an interest in knowing what the market is doing. They may not buy or sell a home for several months or years, and there is no guarantee they will come to me when they make their decisions. Yet, this helps to build my reputation as a helpful agent throughout the community. Furthermore, if you only give assistance to those who will pay you, you are very short-sighted. It is not all about the money, but about the client. As long as you give clients what they need, the income and sales will take care of itself.

Train your staff (if you have any) to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable. This goes in line with the previous rule, but adds to it by making sure your staff is always helpful. It is not required for you to know everything about any question your client may have, but you need to have a general knowledge and know where to find the answers. I always get questions about housing prices or sales for a certain community or area of the Triangle. Unless I have just looked up the information for a client or do tons of business in that area, there is no way for me to have the kind of information that will be helpful for my potential clients that will not be misleading. I am courteous with them and may give them some general knowledge about that area, then inform them I will get back with them once I get a chance to look into it further.

Always be wary of anyone who tends to have the answers to every question, no matter the profession. It is impossible to have all of the answers and those who do may be misinforming you just to appear that they are knowledgeable. In real estate, as in any business, it is important to know what you know and know when you don’t know and how to get the information you need. Don’t ever just “wing” it. There is no shame in informing your client that you do not know the answer to their question and you will get back to them.

Take the extra step. This is imperative to show your customer that you care. If you are in retail, take them to the item, don’t just point them in the right direction. And once you get there, wait to see if they have any questions. In any field, there are many ways to take the extra step.

In my field, the extra step means that I do additional research for my clients to help them make better, more informed decisions whether to buy or sell a home. Taking the extra step means that if my client needs to look at five homes or fifty homes to make a decision, I should show them as many as they need to see to help them find the home that will best meet their needs and wants. Taking the extra step requires a commitment to the customer that few are willing to give and many customers are not inclined to require. As a rule, customers in the U.S. accept less than great customer service and I think that is a disservice to business. They don’t know they are not giving great service if they are not given direction.

Throw in something extra. This is a little thing to do that can pay huge dividends in the end. It doesn’t have to be anything large and can simply be a guanine smile. Some professions do not give you the opportunity to give coupons or specific discounts, but it doesn’t have to be monetary. In my industry, I always give a closing gift to clients. The value is very minimal, but it is something that they were not expecting and a way to show them that I appreciate their business.

This goes beyond just working with clients, but with employees. When I was managing people, I was constantly giving praise to those who had done a good job for me and the company. I didn’t have the control to give raises, but in most situations, simply acknowledging they are doing a great job is worth more than a monetary raise.

Giving something extra will also benefit with obtaining referrals from your customers base. As with my business, referrals are imperative for success, so the more you can give your clients above and beyond the sale, will go a long way to developing a lasting relationship with them. If you are in an industry that gets repeat business, then you may want to send your past clients something extra every month or year. One year, I sent many of my past clients a bag of coffee. The coffee cost me $10 and most of them, I hand delivered, so I had an opportunity to see them again. It is a simple touch that will help you to keep in touch with them and remind them of the level of customer service you gave them.

 

I hope you have found this helpful and beneficial for your business. As I have stated before, customer service is a touchy point for me. To really give a high level of customer service, it is important to also like and respect your customer. It is always easier to be nice and helpful to those you like, respect and want to do business. As Joe Williams, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty, stated, “Anyone can do dumb deals”. It is important to have a mutual respect with your customers. Otherwise, it is a dumb deal and not worth your effort or the customer’s effort.

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