From time to time as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with small business experts that could benefit my audience. This is excerpts from my #smallbizchat interview on Twitter with Glory Borgeson @GloryBorgeson about creating signature customer service in your small business. GloryBorgeson is a business coach, speaker and author of the book “Catapult Your Business to New Heights.” http://tinyurl.com/m2rzho
SmallBizLady: Why is customer service such an important part of an entrepreneur’s business?
Borgeson: Customer service is your own built-in marketing machine. When you provide great service for your customers, they remember it, and you get known for it. Also, you get liked for it. People do business with people they like.
SmallBizLady: In your book, you write about “Wow!” customer service. What is that?
Borgeson: “Wow!” customer service is anything you do that makes your customers say, “Wow!” in response. (And that is a really good thing!)
SmallBizLady: What does a business get back in return when they give “Wow!” treatment to their customers?
Borgeson: When you do something for customers that makes them say, “Wow!”, you will get a loyal customer who continues to buy from you, sticks with you in tough economic times, and sends you referrals.
SmallBizLady: If a business delivers bad customer service what can happen?
Borgeson: If you only meet your customer’s expectations, there is nothing in particular that keeps them loyal to you and your business. The fact that you meet expectations and don’t tick them off is actually a good thing. But what if your competitor comes along and offers them better customer service after they buy? Since your customer isn’t loyal to you (because you’ve done nothing to gain that loyalty), he or she will probably switch to your competitor.
SmallBizLady: What is an example of what you call “Ow!” customer service?
Borgeson: I have all kinds of experiences with this personally. My previous bank made errors, charged me for their errors, made me do the work to prove it was their error, and then didn’t apologize. Can you say, “Ow!”? I switched banks. “Be easy to do business with!” Don’t make your customers work so hard to do business with you.
SmallBizLady: What are some examples of “Wow!” customer service?
Borgeson: Any business whose front-line customer service people are competently trained and have authority to make things happen can provide “Wow!” service. (What? You really know what you’re talking about and you don’t have to pass my call around to various managers to fix my problem? Wow!)
Zappos is a good example of a business that provides “Wow!” customer service for their customers. Their website is easy to use. They have free shipping both ways (when shipping to the customer and when the customer sends a return). Returns are really easy – you go to your order online, click the items you’re returning, print a UPS (or USPS) shipping label; and then you drop the whole box off at a UPS store. (The hardest thing you have to do is tape the box – and that’s easy, too.) After they receive the return (which they’re expecting), they send an e-mail confirming the amount of the credit hitting your card. Basically, Zappos has taken the pain out of shopping online or via catalog (which I don’t do often because the returns are a hassle). Also, when you call them on the phone, you get a highly-trained employee on the phone who has the knowledge and authority to help you.
Here are a few more examples:
The dentist’s office that gives each patient a hot washcloth after treatment.
The auto mechanic’s waiting room that provides fresh coffee, TVs, computers with Internet access, and cleanliness.
The computer software company that takes my call and helps me solve a problem, without expecting me to pay them more money.
Basically, all of these examples give their customers an experience that is “above & beyond” what the customers expect – and these actions make their customers say “Wow!” (These actions are also in contrast to what most businesses provide.)
SmallBizLady: How can a business owner begin to build customer services experiences for their customers?
Borgeson: The best way to start is with brainstorming.
- Make a list of all kinds of businesses you do business with (as a consumer and as a business owner).
- On one page, list all kinds of actions those businesses have taken that have made you say “Wow!” in the last 5 years.
- On a second page, list the bad experiences you’ve had with businesses as a customer.
- Next, list out your competitors. List the things they do to “Wow!” their customers, and the things they do that tick off their customers.
Now, list out ideas that you can use to “Wow!” your customers. Some of these things will be planned, and others will come up for you to deal with at the spur of the moment. Some things you list will not cost you anything, some will cost a little time and a little money, others will cost more time and money.
SmallBizLady: Once I have my list of customer service ideas, how do I prioritize it?
Borgeson: For the most part, you will want to prioritize your “Wow!” list, starting with the things that are easy, quick, and inexpensive to implement, and ending the list with the things that will take more time and money to plan. Make a plan for how you can implement quick and easy changes in the next month or two. Then go through the rest of the list and put a timeline on each item. For the actions that will cost money, research what it will cost and plug that into the list.
For more tips on starting or growing your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog at http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com