Staples | Setting Customer Service Standards

Setting Customer Service Standards

Your employees represent your business, and their behavior and attitude will ultimately determine whether customers return or head to the competition.

The following seven steps will help ensure that your company delivers quality customer service.

Create a positive first impression

Good first impressions tend to generate loyal customers, and there's only one chance to make a positive first impression. One of the most important factors in contributing to a positive first impression is appearance. The exterior and interior of the business should all be neat and well maintained. Access is another factor. Parking should be available, and the building's entrance should be easily accessible. When the customer enters the store, they should be greeted promptly by a friendly representative.

Listen to the customer

Once a positive first impression has been made, employees need to listen actively to the customer. Nodding with encouragement, repeating what was said, then asking clarifying questions will make the customer feel their needs are important. In turn, they'll be more apt to listen to the employee's suggestions .

Determine the customer's needs

After the customer describes their needs or problems, employees need to properly address them. This can be the hardest step since customers don't always know exactly what they want. Asking open–ended questions will help narrow the possibilities. Always let the customer make the ultimate decision on a product or service, but be generous with suggestions and recommendations — even if it means pointing them in a new direction.

Finding a solution that is agreeable to both parties will help make a customer more loyal.

Anticipate the customer's future needs

Employees can also try to anticipate a customer's future needs. Just because a service or product is presently acceptable for the customer, it does not mean it'll be what they need in the future. The customer may ultimately prefer something that will have a longer life span, even if it may cost more. Such a decision may spare them from having to return to the store prematurely. However, you run the risk of overselling. If a customer doesn't need a particular item and probably won't in the future, don't push it on them.

Satisfy unsatisfied customers

Inevitably, your employees will encounter unsatisfied customers. Whether they're returning an item or changing a service, customers expect a fair policy. Some customers will act belligerently to get satisfaction. The best way to combat this type of behavior is by staying calm. In most cases finding a solution that is agreeable to both parties will help make a customer more loyal; they will trust you to empathize with their situation and handle problems smoothly. Changing the service or returning the item will ensure that a customer leaves happy.

Know what you sell

Before employees can effectively help customers, they must first have a thorough knowledge of the company's products. Customers listen to employees who are knowledgeable. Keep your staff informed with internal memos, trade magazines, pertinent articles and industry journals.

Perform the "little extras"

Quality customer service also means delivering "little extras." Walking a customer to the door, helping them carry their items, calling them on the phone to keep them informed, or dropping a note in the mail are all good examples. These gestures might someday make the difference if a customer has a choice between your business and a competitor.

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