Want to keep your customers? Offer excellent service

Customer Service Professionals

Feb. 16, 2022 - DENTON - I moved recently and was subjected to some of the worst customer service I have ever experienced. In one instance, a pair of bunk beds I paid for was sold to someone else. In another, I tried to return a refrigerator, but the big-box store I purchased the appliance from kept me on hold over the phone for more than 30 minutes before hanging up on me. Beyond that, I had several fruitless experiences with contractors who did not follow up with a quote or show up to work.

Customer service is seemingly becoming outdated, and in some instances, it appears the customer no longer comes first. An advantage of shopping at a small business is that you are more likely dealing with the owner, a family member or trusted associate. They are often more engaging and have the flexibility to offer discounts or special deals on the spot if something goes wrong—without having to wait for management approval.

An article in The Balance, titled “8 Rules for Good Customer Service: Giving Customers the Kind of Customer Service That Keeps Them Coming Back” by Susan Ward, offers tips for good customer service. They can be applied to many businesses.

Answer your phone

The first rule of good customer service is that your business phone needs to be answered. Get call forwarding, an answering service or hire staff if you need to. However, make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business.

Do not make promises you cannot keep

Keep the promises you make to your customers. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say to a customer, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday,” make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, do not say it.

Train your staff

If you have staff, train them to always be helpful, courteous and knowledgeable. Talk to your staff about good customer service and what it is (and is not) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so she or he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at ...”

These simple tips offer an excellent opportunity for small business owners to outshine their big-box competitors and to make a lasting impression on their customers. It is the kind of service that will entice customers to keep coming back.

Tracy Irby is the director for the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s University. She can be reached at tirby@twu.edu. The center is part of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership, which is dedicated to preparing more women to take on successful roles in business and public service.

Page last updated 8:29 AM, February 16, 2022