The best way to retain customers is to provide excellent customer service. Follow these customer service tips and watch your business grow!
We have all had bad customer service – those times just stick out in your mind and it’s hard to shake them. If you own a small business, I’m sure you want to know how to retain customers.
The key is to keep the customer satisfied and provide excellent customer service. I have a few stories I’ll share and some tips that will help your company stand out – in a really good way.
My Bad Customer Service Experience
First, I want to share an experience I had that resulted in me leaving as a customer. I’m sure you can probably relate to it.
Earlier this year, I hired a contractor to help with my business. Over the week that he was working, there were red flags that came up. I was still willing to work it out, but then he wrote me an extremely unprofessional email with quotes including:
- “While thinking about this project, here’s what I’ve come to: You’ve got to let go of the wheel and let me drive.”
- “This project has frustrated me to the point that I’ve forgotten to ask about email set up during the process—now it looks like I don’t even know how to do my job!”
I called the contractor and instead of the working meeting we were scheduled to have, I told him that I was immediately canceling my contract with him and wanted a refund.
Customer Service Tips
The following day after this poor customer service experience, I was at a business networking event and met Steven Roper, a franchise owner of College Hunks Moving and College Hunks Hauling. I was really impressed with Steven’s skills and background when he mentioned he had 37 years in corporate retail management, with a focus on customer service.
He is well-known for his ability to understand and have his teams provide excellent customer service, that many have asked him to open his own company and consult big corporations. Instead, he chose to open a franchise that has been quick to succeed due to providing exceptional customer service.
I had an opportunity to interview Steven Roper and asked his advice on lessons learned around customer service, common mistakes that new business owners make, and what to do with an unhappy customer. He shared the following secrets to keeping your customers and providing better customer service.
1. Save Unhappy Customers
One of the first tips I learned from Steven is that we need to change how we view unhappy customers. He told me that, “An unhappy customer is giving you an opportunity to save him/her. If you’re positive and caring, then you can win their business back.”
I love how he phrased that. An unhappy customer is giving you an opportunity to save them. Use your customer service skills to win their business back. That means addressing their issue, acknowledging their feelings about it, and being honest about how you are going to solve it.
The customer should leave feeling like they can trust that it is fixed and your business cares about their issue.
2. Value Customer Feedback
Avoiding unhappy customers is one of the biggest mistakes a small business can make. All feedback from customers – even negative feedback – is extremely valuable.
In fact, Steven admits that this is actually a really bad idea. He said, “New business owners avoid the customers that are having issues and are afraid to resolve it. The longer you wait, the higher the cost! With social media, the worst thing you can have is an unhappy customer posting a negative review.”
Fun Fact: Did you know that over 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?
You should actually try to get as much customer feedback as you can.
Provide an FAQ section on your website, that way customers can find answers quickly. Another way to gain this feedback is by posting regularly in your Facebook group and ask existing clients/customers if they have any questions or issues with using your offers.
3. Handle Refund Requests The Right Way
Every business will have customers ask for a refund. Here’s how to handle it when this happens!
The first thing to keep in mind is that you need to handle each interaction individually. Steven agrees, saying, “It depends on the situation. Usually, a customer will ask for a partial refund.”
So, the first thing you want to make not to do is to tell the unhappy customer “no.”
As Steven says, “You never say no. You don’t disagree with him/her. Instead, as you think through the obstacles. Let them get their anger out! Let them express themselves. After the customer has provided you all of their objections and complaints, try to give them options to resolve the issue. In most cases, one of the options will work.”
Here’s a real example that Steven shared with me about how a customer went from really angry to accepting just a partial refund.
There was an issue where a customer was so unhappy that it got escalated to Steven. After Steven took the time to listen to the customer, he learned that the customer felt he was overcharged by $40. Steven offered to refund that amount and that made all the difference. The customer thanked Steven and said he would do business with him again. Shortly after, he hired Steven’s company to do another project, with a profit margin greater than the original refund.
I will say make sure you have a return/exchange/refund policy and that it is clearly posted where the customer can see it. Try to be consistent with it, but always listen to the customer and help them resolve their complaint.
4. Utilize Email Marketing
Email marketing plays an important role in customer service.
Create automated emails that go out after a client has purchased or started working with you to check-in and give more tips to get the most out of the products/services they purchased.
This is a way of being proactive with your customer service. Don’t wait for them to come to you with a problem. Let them know you are available before any problems come up.
This will help them trust you more and be more open to hearing solutions if they run into issues.
5. Always Trust the Customer Over the Employee
Finally, if any problems do come up, always trust what the customer says. Steven agrees, “I always try to trust the customer over the employee. Why? Because while the customers are usually slanted, they are not that far off.”
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Chances are the customer’s story is pretty close to the employee’s stories. When you believe the customer, you are building their trust in you, which is the foundation of good customer service.
An Unconventional Way to Earn More
If you don’t have excellent customer service, you are without a doubt leaving money on the table. Curious about other ways you can easily switch into profit mode? Check out my free e-course!
Customer Service Tips – Value Your Customers
Great tips and lessons learned from a customer service pro!
I wish more people had the heart and foresight around customer service like Steven.
Remember, a happy customer is the cheapest marketing! And once you have a customer, your goal should be to keep them for life. Word-of-mouth marketing is free and the most powerful way to obtain new customers, especially important for new and growing small businesses.
Do you have a horrible customer service experience that you’d like to share? What could the business owner have done to resolve things to keep your business? If you’re a business owner – What was your worse customer feedback and how did you handle it? I would love to hear your lessons learned and advice!