In today’s business world, this old axiom may not reign completely true. According to Inc.com, this may be because today’s best customer service isn’t something that can be easily faked. Customer service and the handling of customer complaints need to be a more personalized experience within a startup company-just take a look at Zappos.com. They use customer service as their number one greatest feature, and it really, really works! So let’s take a closer look at the craft of customer service so that you can improve your handling of customer complaints and continue to grow and better your business.
1. Act Like a Teenager Again-Break The Rules
Here is your chance to feel like your old, 15-year old self again-customer service gives you the opportunity to be your reckless self and break some rules! When a customer has a complaint, they do not want to hear a recitation of your company’s return policy. Instead, they want to be treated as an individual, not just another number. Therefore, every once and awhile, you will have to break your own business’s rules and guidelines. Occasionally bending the rules will ultimately cost less than it would to lose a valuable customer. What’s even worse is if that particular customer leaves and relays a negative story about your company. So don’t be afraid to break a few rules when it comes to customer service.
2. Act Like a Parent-Limit the Options
When you take the kids to the grocery store, they always seem to want everything; from outrageously-flavored Go-Gurt to a spinning Elmo toothbrush. In order to avoid a mid-grocery-store temper tantrum, most parents limit their children by saying, “Okay, you can pick ONE thing.” This is what we need to do with our customers. Overly-demanding customers may undercut your ability to grow a valuable business, so be sure to give your customers limited options. Don’t let your sales instincts undermine your entire business model. One of the best ways to do this is by prohibiting customers from being overly-demanding.
3. Act Like a Candidate-Monitor Your Reputation
Whether you’re a candidate for a job, a candidate for an award, or a candidate for a political position-most are extremely concerned about one thing: their reputations! A startup company needs to monitor their own reputation as well, especially online. When customers rant online, it has the potential to tarnish a company’s brand-and it also scares away prospective buyers. In order to track what is being said about your business online, utilize Google Alerts or Trackur, Radian6 and Viralheat.
4. Act Like a College Student-Listen and Learn
Much like a college student who patiently listens to daily lectures (we hope!), you must patiently listen to your customers. If a customer begins to rant, shut up and just listen. When customers are under a lot of frustration, it is typical that they will vent to a company before considering a proactive solution. Therefore, it is important for you, as a small business owner, to refrain from acting defensive and to utilize empathy when speaking. Most of the time, customers will calm down if you continue to ask them open-ended questions that involve the actual individual.
Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that necessary business-sustaining decisions will irk customers. Allow customers to state their opinions and then try to find a solution that will make everybody happy. Customer complaints allow for a learning process-your business will quickly learn what valued customers do and do not like and you can implement this into your business strategy. Customer feedback is an extremely valuable source for improving upon your business.
I am allowing you to act as a teenager, a parent, a candidate and a college student when it comes to handling customer complaints. Keep in mind these four personas and you will be on your way to better customer service for your business!