It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business, customer service can make the difference between profits and losses. Getting it right up front can save you a lot of time and money in damage control.
I’ve been around long enough to see the general, unfortunate decline in customer service across the board. The gotcha is that these days, thanks to this decline, it’s soooooo easy to wow customers at the most basic level of customer service.
Thankfully, these three mistakes are easy to fix and cost you zero dollars, while possibly saving you from having to issue refunds or otherwise making up for a disservice.
Customer Service Mistake #1: Your contact information is missing
When you visit my site you’ll notice there’s no phone number listed. This is by design because impromptu phone calls interrupt my workflow. When fully operational, there’s enough information on my site for you to gauge whether or not you want to move forward with getting more info or starting an inquiry.
However… once we reach the consult stage, and definitely once you become a paid customer, you have the phone number and an additional way to contact should the need arise.
Have you ever experienced the anxiety that comes with not receiving what you paid for and not being able to contact the vendor immediately? It ain’t pretty, I can tell you that much. Make sure people who are paying you are able to contact you.
Do this: make sure your telephone number, email address and mailing address are listed on invoices, packing slips, labels, and customer emails (confirmation, shipping, follow up). Make sure that these are operational i.e. they actually work. Nothing like only having an email address to contact someone and getting a “delivery failure” message that says that email address doesn’t exist, after something you’ve paid for hasn’t been delivered. Audit your contact information quarterly.
Customer Service Mistake #2: Poor communication
When you’re a business owner, it’s especially important for you to have a plan of communication. Your customers don’t care what happened if they have to come looking for you. And the longer they have to look for you, the less cares they’ll have once they know what went wrong.
Poor communication isn’t limited to emergencies, though. One of two things should happen during a customer’s purchase cycle with you:
A – there’s an update at each stage; or
B – they are made aware of when to expect communication at the beginning of the process.
And if something changes? Let them know IMMEDIATELY on multiple channels.
Didn’t get the presales you wanted or didn’t get/finish the product in time and need to postpone/cancel? Pay proper attention to the folk who DID pre-order and let them know, on all of your channels. The embarrassment of not delivering on time is minimal compared to the embarrassment of disgruntled customers on social media. Get your ego out of your business.
Don’t make your clients come looking for you. It won’t end well. Missing contact information falls under this category as well, BTW.
Do this: draft an email for each stage of the purchase cycle, OR on the order confirmation let customers know when next to expect to hear from you. Use them. Bonus points when you do both.
Customer Service Mistake #3: Inconsistent or non-existent policies
I didn’t have a refund policy for seven years, because up until then, I’d never had to issue one. If you find that you are consistently having to make up for missing deadlines or shoddy product, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and revisit your policies and procedures. For some of you it means creating – and sticking to – them; especially if you can’t afford to be giving away time, products/services and money.
Consistent policies also let your clients/customers know what to expect. When communicated, if you find yourself in a touchy situation, you can simply direct them to your policy.
But policies aren’t just for your clients/customers. You should have them for yourself, employees, interns, ambassadors and vendors. This will help you to track your consistency and if an opportunity is something you should pursue.
Do this: come up with a set of policies that cover each of these areas and post them on your site:
- Emergency situations
Like I said before, it’s so easy to wow your customers for free, especially when your competition isn’t doing these things. You never know when a customer is playing secret shopper before referring you for an opportunity you actually want. Govern yourselves – and your business – accordingly.