In the most recent edition of Entrepreneur Magazine, there's an article entitled, "The Importance of Making Customers Feel Heard." While most entrepreneurs understand the value of providing great customer service, very rarely do we sit down and think about how we can take it to the next level. What's the difference between responding to a customer and truly making them feel heard? How do we distinguish between the average and the phenomenal? And how does truly listening to a customer help us to grow as an entrepreneur or business owner?
Over the years, we've implemented a number of customer services practices, and have seen first-hand what works and what doesn't. Today, we have 5 go-to practices for making our customers feel heard that we're sharing below:
1. Apologize and Restate The Issue at Hand || When a customer feels dissatisfied with a product or service, they often reach out in a state of anger and distrust. When we deflect responsibility, or respond with a pre-written statement that's seemingly unconnected to the incident at hand, it seems pretty clear that we're not truly listening to what our customer has to say. We're strong proponents of starting off with an apology and re-stating the issue. For example, if someone's glasses broke within only 1 week of receiving them, we'd say, "Hey John Doe - Thanks for reaching out. We sincerely apologize for your experience so far with our glasses. We absolutely understand the frustration of having something break only a short time after you received it, and we're fully committed to rectifying the situation."
2. Reply Quickly || When a customer reaches out, whether positively or negatively, the best way to make them feel heard is to reply in a timely manner. Responding within a few hours or on the same day shows a customer that you're always there, paying close attention, and listening. You'll start to feel more like a friend that they can reach out to, rather than a corporation with towering walls and a moat.
3. Keep Promises || Any promise that you make to a customer needs to be treated with the utmost respect. When you tell a customer that you'll provide them with a certain service, and then go back on your word, you degrade the trustworthiness of your business. This doesn't only apply to when a customer reaches out directly, but also to your company's policies as a whole. Take a good, hard look at what your business promises its customers, and critically question whether these are standards you can upkeep.
4. Establish a Single Point of Responsibility || When a customer has an issue, never bounce them from one department to another in search of an answer. If you can, have the same person that initially interacted with the customer answer the question - even if that means they'll have to take on the extra labor of speaking to other departments to find an answer themselves.
5. Treat Your Employees As Your First Customers || Take measure of your employees attitudes, behaviors, and feelings; they interact with you and your team the most, and will be great indicators of how well you're able to provide customer service. Ask how you're doing well, as well as how you can improve in order to always stay growing and learning.
Story by: Isabelle Edwards