Do me a favor—Google “customer service horror stories”. The sources that come up are endless and when you actually begin to read some of them, many are astounding. As a small business owner, you will get into difficult situations involving circumstances beyond your control. However, there are things you can do (and not do) to avoid becoming the subject of a “horror story”. Even though the company name isn’t always revealed, (but on review sites such as Yelp! they are), bad customer service experiences will have a negative effect on your company and ultimately hurt your bottom line. Read on to gage your company’s vulnerability to such negative attention and obtain tips to end such stories before they start.
No matter how swamped with work you are, don’t project a tone, facial expressions, or actions that suggest the customer is inconveniencing you. Sometimes, this can come across unintentionally when you’re overworked, but be aware of your surroundings and acknowledge the person in a welcoming manner. You also never want to reveal major problems with your facility, products, or a staff member to a customer. Even if the problem is mentioned in a joking context and it doesn’t directly affect that customer, it sends the message that your business is less than reliable. That’s probably not true, so why give that impression?
This may seem obvious, but don’t lie to a customer. Certain things do not need to be revealed, but many times a customer will find out about a direct lie and not mention it—they just take their business elsewhere. For example, let’s say an employee of yours was scheduled to make a service call but failed to show up. The customer calls to ask why no one arrived. Instead of apologizing, rescheduling, and possibly offering a discount, you say that the employee had the wrong address. If the customer has done business with you before, they will know that’s not the case. This kind of thing does happen. Another thing to never do is repeat the same procedure that failed to solve a customer’s problem because this failure was not communicated. It’s not the customer’s job to keep track of who knows what details of their interactions with you. Finally, when a customer asks “how are you”, they are being friendly, but don’t want your problems heaped on them. If you’re having an exceptionally bad day (personally or professionally), now is not the time to vent. Doing so will make the customer feel guilty because they cannot help you. Instead, smile and offer a general, brief reply and move on.
You’ve probably already thought of more things you should do to avoid being the subject of a bad customer service story. As long as you work with integrity and make the customer priority number one, you will have nothing to worry about. Make it happen!
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