How To Differentiate My Business Through Customer Service?
How can I differentiate my business through customer service?
Making a small business stand out from the crowd can be difficult. So we have to do something that makes our business special, different to the rest.
For my jewellery business I’ve focused on customer service. When I’m selling my jewellery I’m directly competing with all the other stall-holders at large markets.
I know I have good designs and competitive prices but I also know that in the market place I have to do more. It is the little details in customer service that are the secret. It is the friendly, welcoming greeting, the care in presentation of the goods, services and staff, interest in what is happening with the customer, the lack of hard sell and the offering of sharing what you have on offer that make the difference.
I also know that at market, many of my competitors sit back and read the paper, quietly communicating (intentionally or not) that they are not interested in the customer. I use this to my advantage. I greet customers, talk about the jewellery, how the components are made, where they are made and by whom. Through all this, I educate my customers.
So by prattling away, educating my customers, I’m showing up my competitors, I’m building a trusting and warm relationship with my customers who keep coming back each market.
It is much easier to focus on friendly and informative customer service face to face. You can read the body language of the customer and adjust the sales patter accordingly.
But what about if you have a more service orientated business and really only interact with your customers via the telephone, email and at meetings? You can still consistently deliver quality customer service.
When you are calling customers have their details in front of you. Your customer database should be able to remind you of the little details that you’ve captured over time. For instance, if you get through to their assistant, you want to greet them by name, be able to state when you last had contact and what it was about, ask how a related current project is tracking, any manner of small details that demonstrates you are focused on them. It is the attention to detail that impresses.
With emails, pay particular care to email etiquette. Treat email as a formal channel of communication. Write in proper sentences, check the spelling, use appropriate punctuation, include useful Subject line headings and always re-read what you have written. If a customer forwards on an email from you to a potential customer it will be the first impression of you and your business. What impression do you want to create?
Microsoft Outlook as a range of features that can make the fine details of customer service that much easier. The spell check facility (F7) makes a huge difference as it can save you the embarrassment of sending out emails with simple spelling mistakes.
Another feature I use for all my emails is the signature file. Signature files are automatically added to your emails. You select whether it is for all emails, new emails or any combination.
Signature files at the end of emails are valuable because they give a professional impression, provide useful contact details, and are great place for marketing messages that can be treated as P.S. or as a reinforcement of the business slogan.
When you are meeting your customers, attention to detail is also crucial. Being on time, calm and confident offers much better service that being late and flustered. Careful time management makes all the difference. The trick is to schedule enough time for your meetings. Take the care to be prepared, know what transport, traffic and parking is like at the time of the meeting. Make notes in your calendar or customer file about specifics that can make a difference – how does the customer treat time and appointments, what matters to them and what do they say about other professionals they interact with?
You can also use your customer database to set reminders about contacting your customers on a regular basis. Anything from newsletters, greeting cards, friendly touching-base telephone calls, to scheduled follow-up emails can be set up with your electronic email/calendar tool. I use Microsoft Outlook and find it to be effective, easy to use and have good features.
For instance, I have one of my customers who want me to call once a month and gets upset if I call more frequently or infrequently. I have this detail set in his profile in my customer database and every month, up pops a reminder telling me it is time to call. I do this with my wholesale customers. They think I’m on top of the ball and tell me how they wish their other suppliers would be as good. The net result is that I get more repeat sales and my customers think I’m excellent with service.
Differentiating your business through quality customer service is probably about one of the most inexpensive ways to get beyond the pack. All it takes is setting up a few simple systems to create a great impression for your customers.