Page 9 - Upper Peninsula Business Today -- February 2020
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 The Evolution of Customer Service In Retail and Internet Environments Better Business Bureau
With an increasing number of large, national chain stores popping up everywhere, small businesses sometimes find it difficult to com- pete. In the early 1900s, successful compa- nies lasted an average of 67 years. Today, businesses typically exist for only 15 years. Mastering the fine art of providing excellent customer service is the best way to attract cus- tomers to your business and your products and earn their loyalty
Oftentimes, customers are willing to pay a little more if they are getting that little some- thing extra along with the product or service they are purchasing. Two basic rules to fol- low: train your employees and treat your cus- tomers as you would want to be treated.
Start by training your employees to treat every customer who walks through the door as an individual. Stress the importance of sim- ple tasks like being courteous, greeting cus- tomers with a smile, and respecting a cus- tomer’s decision. Develop training programs that will make your employees knowledge- able on all aspects of your services and prod- ucts. Nothing impresses customers more than
realizing a store’s employees are knowledge- able their product or service.
Studies show that three out of four con- sumers know more about the products they buy than do the salespeople. When a con- sumer realizes this, their buying experience suffers. A big part of selling is education; employees need to know what they are sell- ing, and why it is valuable to the customer. Your investment in educating and empower- ing your employees will show up in satisfied and returning clientele.
Teach your employees how to read a cus- tomer’s needs, and treat him or her according- ly. In a retail environment, some customers are in a hurry and don’t want to have a “rela- tionship” with a salesperson, they just want to know where a product is located. Others want a little courtesy and even a little pampering. The same skills will apply to online chat serv- ices an internet retailer may provide; teach your employees to follow the customer’s lead to know whether they are seeking a quick answer, or detailed information.
When dissatisfied customers present prob- lems, make certain you know how to handle the issue. Acknowledge your customer’s complaint, apologize, and respond quickly. Don’t forget that if you resolve the problem reasonably and fairly, the customer is likely to tell others about the wonderful customer serv- ice at your company. Train your support staff to be effective listeners and to diffuse tense sit- uations with customers. Provide your support staff with the means to escalate a consumer issue to a supervisor when the situation requires it.
Whether your customers rate your company on sites like Better Business Bureau® or Yelp, social media or word of mouth, people will talk about the quality of service they received. Every customer who chooses your company is placing their trust in your ability to efficiently and expediently provide the service they are expecting. They also trust your ability to handle any issues that may arise during this time.
That may not mean meeting a customer at the door with a four course meal and a shoe shine, but it does mean investing time, energy, and personnel into acknowledging and resolv-
ing customer issues. Some businesses can credit their success to something as simple as saying “please” and “thank you.”
An effective marketing plan includes a growing number of avenues for seeking out new customers and holding on to those you already have. But even in a changing world, outstanding customer service, provided by knowledgable, courteous employees, is as effective as buying advertisements and post- ing billboards on the busiest highways. Earn- ing the trust and loyalty of your customers and maintaining their goodwill will expand your market reach and strengthen your business. Your satisfied customers’ word of mouth referrals to family, friends and associates are gold. Their goodwill, as expressed through social media and customer reviews, is invalu- able. When it comes to providing quality cus- tomer service, figure out what works best for your company and be consistent. You will never regret the investments you make in great service.
For more BBB® business tips, visit or call 866-788-5706.

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