Most of the entrepreneurs who read my articles and my blog aren’t necessarily famous in their fields. Most of us aren’t considered industry experts, and we don’t have the Wall Street Journal calling us for our opinions on current business events. If there’s one way in which we can excel, though, and I mean really stand out from our peers, it’s in our customer service. You may not be able to service all the customers, but you can service the happiest customers.
All of my employees who have customer contact are armed with the following four phrases that encapsulate our attitude as a company committed to delivering stellar customer service … every time.
- “I don’t know, but here’s what I’ll do.” It’s unrealistic to expect every member of your company to have the answer to every possible question or the solution to every problem. What is reasonable is to require that they commit to finding that answer and following up with the customer. Train your staff to clearly communicate their plan: “I’m going to get that answer for you and call you back by 2pm,” or “I will do some research and let you know before noon tomorrow.” When customers understand that your staff takes their needs seriously, and that your staff will follow up on time, every time, you’re setting yourself up as a leader in customer service.
- “I am very sorry.” When a customer’s unhappy because your company has failed to meet their reasonable expectations, they want you to own up to your mistakes. Acknowledging that customers are right (when they really are) helps to defuse potentially angry clients and gets your staff started in the direction of resolving the complaint. One caveat: save the apologies for when you’ve genuinely made a mistake. We’ve all dealt with clients who are impossible to please, and apologies for not having met wildly unrealistic expectations don’t accomplish anything productive.
- “Yes.” “Yes” is the magic word that consumers want to hear more than any other, and your customer service reps should strive to say it as often as they reasonably can. Now you’re going to have to empower your reps with a little discretionary power, but imagine how this scenario plays out. A customer comes in displeased with their carryout food order from the night before. Your cashier offers them a free sandwich to replace the one they didn’t care for, and they walk out impressed with your company’s handling of their complaint. If your cashier has to fetch a manager, the customer seethes, perhaps causes a scene, and still walks out with a free sandwich that it cost you two employees to handle in addition to the potential fallout from an unhappy customer in your restaurant. If you can reasonably accommodate a customer’s wishes, then do it right away!
- “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Whether you’re wrapping up on the phone or in person, using this phrase accomplishes two goals: it lets you ensure that your customer is satisfied, and it also lets the customer have the pleasure of having the last word. Whether they leave after telling you that they’re completely satisfied or they give you one more opportunity to meet their needs, you’ve won with this phrase.
The key to superior customer service is authentically caring about your clients’ satisfaction. Training yourself and your staff to use these phrases creates a climate in which serving customers is the highest priority.