Customer service is a pretty hot topic and can make or break your business. Consumers have little patience for lousy customer service and quickly get tired of waiting in long lines, trying to get a live person on the phone, going through an interrogation to return something or trying to communicate through a language barrier.

If you provide your valuable customer with a simple, efficient, pleasant customer service experience, they will revisit your business over and over. More importantly, they will tell everyone they know!

Satisfied customers are necessary for any successful business, but they are not enough alone to build loyal customers. The customer’s continued patronage and repeat business demonstrate true customer loyalty.

Studies have shown it costs five to six times as much to gain a new customer as it does to retain a current one; therefore, it is beneficial to keep customers than attract new ones.

There are three secrets to excellent customer service; the first one we are going to conquer is to know what YOU want.

You are the captain of the ship and the visionary for the future of your business, so you need to have a clearly defined plan for your business, and that includes customer service.

There are three main goals you need to consider:

  1. It needs to be easy for your customers to do business with you. You can do this with advertised discounts, kiosks, your website and other technology-based programs to help them shop.
  2. Doing business with you needs to be a warm and pleasant experience. Your staff has to be knowledgeable, approachable, friendly and patient. Your customers need to feel like they are getting good value for their time and money. Perceived value goes beyond the price of the products and extends to their shopping experience.
  3. Change your mindset and ask yourself “How can I NOT afford to do these things?” Improving customer service should not be a question of expenses but making and keeping happy customers.

With these thoughts in mind, you also need to consider the following when deciding on the actual programs and standards you will put into place.

  • Share your customer service vision with the rest of your staff.
  • Connect your incentive programs and bonuses directly to customer service.
  • Monitor the level of customer service, your staff, is putting out.
  • Know when you can ignore what your customers want.
  • Continuously focus on your goals.

Now, that you know what you want you can start thinking about how to meet those wants and create a positive customer service experience.