Great customer service is easy to spot but difficult to master. While some tactics are obvious, like treating the customer with respect and fairness, the very best techniques for improving customer service might not be what you expect.
During their business journeys, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council have learned some unexpected lessons about making customers happy. Below, nine of them shared surprising tidbits they’ve picked up along the way that can help businesses revamp and improve their existing customer service infrastructure.
1. The Customer Is Not Always Right
When we first open a business, we’re hungry and we want customers. We’re willing to make huge sacrifices to bring in business. But not all business is good business. Some customers zap your time or cannot be satisfied. The hardest lesson I had to learn was knowing when to sever the customer relationship. Once I learned how to do that, I cultivated a meaningful customer base of people who wanted my services. Business leaders need to learn what this means for them. When enough client sacrifices are enough, it’s time to cut the relationship. It’s hard to do when you’ve invested the time, but more time is not the answer. Customers who want what you offer will let you know, not string you along. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
2. Customers Are Often Loyal Because Of An Emotional Connection
People may stay with you because of an emotional connection and not necessarily because of price or quality (which we, of course, strive to deliver). Because of this, we intentionally try to do things to help create an emotional connection quickly. This can come in the form of a personalized video reinforcing that they made a great decision to work with us, a handwritten “thank you” card or even gifts during the holidays that tie into a part of the philanthropy work we do. Specifically, we have sent our clients fair trade coffee and products from Haiti. I’ve been there 27 times, and my clients know the philanthropic missions I do there. I have been able to bridge them into that through them working with my company. – Bryan Citrin, Chiropractic Advertising
3. It’s Worth Investing In Software That Gives You Support
One of the biggest lessons I learned is to invest in software that gives your entire support team access to all tickets so communication lines are easily maintained. When we first started, we had our support team spread out and separate, which caused major bottlenecks. For most businesses, any issues your customers encounter often straddle multiple teams within your organization. So, it’s in the business’s best interest to make sure your customer support team can easily access all support tickets and share those internally as needed. This will allow your support issues to get resolved quicker, will improve communication between everyone, will help customer retention and will ultimately allow you to sell more. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.
4. Always Take Care Of Every Customer
Even if you feel like a customer is trying to rip you off, take good care of them. A refund to a customer is always easier than carrying around resentment. Take care of each problem, trust your customer and do what’s right even if you feel wronged. The mental energy it takes to be upset with a customer is never worth it. Fix their problems quickly and with trust and it will set you free. – Michael Barnhill, Specialist ID
5. You Can Never Be Too Thankful
You can never be thankful enough to a customer. Especially in the beginning, you shouldn’t just thank the customer for their business, but instead should take other steps to ensure they become a customer for life (which can happen, even at a new business). Ask them their name, see if they need something else and ask for comments about your business overall. Expressing gratitude is a never-ending strategy for newer businesses. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
6. Customers Will Respect You If You Push Back With Good Reason
In our early days, I felt like my job was just to tell the customers “yes” all the time, but what we realized is that customers were asking for things that simply didn’t make sense for their content strategy and wouldn’t result in what they wanted. So over time we learned to push back, tell clients “no” and advise them on what we know will get them results—and it’s created better client relationships and longer client lifetime. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
7. You’ll Encounter A Variety Of Expectations
A customer service lesson I learned early on with my first company was how different expectations can be from one client to the next. While some clients may be easily satisfied at full price, others may be extremely scrutinizing at a discount. All this means is it’s vital to gather as much client feedback as possible on a regular basis. This way, you’re able to gain insights into more aspects of the service or product experience from the client perspective, enabling you to deliver at a higher level for more clients. – Richard Fong, SecurityForward.com
8. You Can Learn A Lot From Your Customers If You Listen Closely
One customer service lesson that I never expected to learn is how much value and how many ideas you can get by actively listening to your customers. When you listen closely and ask insightful questions, you can get great product ideas, improve your services and connect with your customers on a deeper level. Often, entrepreneurs think they know what their customers want, but you might be surprised. There’s a great quote I heard once that said: “If you always think you’re right, you’ll never learn anything new.” This is true for business and for life! – Alfredo Atanacio, Uassist.ME
9. Customer Service Is Actually About You
Before I became an entrepreneur, I worked for a couple of big and small brands where it was constantly drilled into me how user experience had to be A+ when it came to rendering customer service, and I carried that mindset into my own business. And while that is true, going through customer service in my business taught me that customer service was about me. Building a business has a way of making you grow. And as we all know, growth is a painful process. The early stages of figuring out your product’s relationship with the customer can be one of the most testing times of running your business. Going through the process of finding product-market fit helps you understand your customer and eventually become a better you. You get better by serving others. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS