Customer Service is a bit of a “buzz term” now days. We hear it as it relates to all sorts of business interactions. The truth is, however, if you are operating your own home business, you have to work on your customer service skills. We can’t afford to mistreat our customers or give poor customer service. Our small businesses depend on us to be able to cultivate customers and keep our customers happy and satisfied.
I don’t know how many times my own opinion of a particular business has been completely changed by one interaction with someone—both in a good way and a bad way. I’ve had my entire day changed by fabulous customer service, and my entire mood shifted by a run-in with a company representative who had poor customer service skills. Even if someone is just having a “bad day”—one negative interaction can cause a customer to shift alliances and split. Not to mention, that disgruntled customer might just tell ten or twenty of her closest friends and you’ll suffer the effects of negative word-of-mouth.
So, how do we handle the customer service issue when we are just one very human person? I have bad days and get crabby and annoyed at customers and clients. BUT, as a one-woman business, I can’t afford to let that show or my business will be affected. If you’re having a really bad day—it is probably best to avoid interacting with customers and clients. Or, if you feel yourself getting testy or short-tempered, take a break—switch to e-mail (where you might be able to fake it better) as a mode of communication, or cut your conversation short.
It’s not just about attitude, however. We need to make sure that we follow-through and follow-up with our customers, as well as complete any transactions in a timely and respectful manner. If you think your customer service skills might be lacking or need a tune-up—you can practice. Make some visits to your favorite stores and see how both good and bad customer service plays out. A visit to your library or book store might help too—there are plenty of books out there on how to deliver great customer service and how to be a fabulous communicator in the work place.
See Also: Nurturing and Cultivating Customers