Are you serving or selling?

| September 12, 2013

High quality customer service can make or break your business. Shivani Gupta shares her tips for improved customer satisfaction.

I think we have gone backwards in terms of customer service of late. It is difficult to generalise but I am thinking of many recent experiences I have had.

Store retailers are losing sales to online businesses not just because they are struggling to compete on price. They have cut staff to cut costs but it means they are sacrificing a key competitive advantage – service. Outstanding service is key to business success and people are prepared to pay a premium for it.

I heard successful real estate entrepreneur John McGrath recently say one of his key business principles is service. He seeks “raving fans”. He astutely pointed out that things don’t buy goods and services, people do.

How does your business really rate in terms of customer service? Answer honestly. Do you know?

Here are my 5 tips for improved customer satisfaction.

1. Ensure your business’ values are aligned to delivering great service. That puts everybody in the right mindset. In my businesses we take the view that we are serving people rather than selling to people. Selling is important but secondary. In our spa business we see ourselves as providers of spa services we see ourselves as being our customers’ partner in building and maintaining their well-being.

2. Walk in your customers’ shoes.Order something off your website or be a mystery shopper on the phone. Are your processes simple and customer focussed?

3. Gather and act on customer feedback. We have a customer suggestion box in our spas and at our team meetings we look at the comments together along with other customer feedback and research.

4. Fix your complaints handling.One way many businesses lose customers is poor complaints handling. If you stuff up, admit it. We all make mistakes and customers understand that if you own up and rectify a problem. Research shows that responding promptly to a complaint or mistake can make customers more loyal. If we have an unhappy customer we ask them to come back in and give us another go. We don’t argue with customers, ever.

5. Get a Director of First Impressions.  Another mistake businesses can make is putting their lowest paid or least skilled person at reception. The person who answers most of your customers’ calls or is a customer’s first point of contact is critical.

Identify three actions you can take this month to improve service in your business.

Shivani Gupta is an author, key note speaker, and personal and business coach. She is a successful businesswoman and the founder and CEO of Passionate People Institute. Shivani has won several awards including Telstra Young Businesswomen of the Year. She has a passion for inspiring and challenging women to lead the life they want to live.