Whether you're trying to run a successful home business, customer service has to be one of the most important elements in sustaining an ongoing relationship with your client. It is imperative that a client be treated as the ultimate commodity. For all the inventory and fancy decor, a business is only worth the reputation it makes for itself.
Customer Service Made Simple
- Start with a smile, even while dealing with a client over the phone, your smile will come through in the tone of your voice.
- When at all possible, have a written contract detailing what you are offering as a product or service and an agreed price from the client. A well written contract can help avoid future contradictions.
- Understand your clients needs and make sure you can meet their expectations. Don't promise what you can't deliver.
- Establish means of communication. Find out if your client prefers to keep in touch via email, phone or snail mail.
- Make yourself available. Set business hours so your clients can get a hold of you. Have an answering machine, or voice mail for a client to leave you a message.
- Return phone calls and emails in a timely manner; nothing shouts poor customer service more than a client who's concerns are not addressed.
- Set the stage: give your business the time, space and atmosphere it requires for success.
- Avoid the mom multitasking syndrome, your client will notice if you're not paying attention.
Running a home business is a venture all its own. If not careful and well planned, you can be on the phone with a potential client, and one of your kids will run-in screaming for your attention. "Can you please hold...Tommy just scrapped his knee..." is not what a paying customer wants to hear.
Customer Service and the Difficult Client
- Don't engage in a confrontation. Remember the customer is always right, even if you know he's not.
- Refer to the detailed contract for any clarification and to remind the customer of your agreement.
- Keep your cool and choose your battles. Often times you will find that conceding to a customers demand is more lucrative than standing your ground and loosing him forever.
- Separate yourself from the equation: it's not personal, it's business. This may sometimes help you see things from the customers perspective, allowing you to take a different approach in solving an issue.
- Mediate at all cost--give and take until you can turn a dissatisfied client into a satisfied customer.
Even with the best intentions, unforeseen problems can arise. When they do, confront the issue immediately, and keep the client in the loop. More times than not, a client will respect your candor. On the other hand, if you avoid the customer, you will create distrust, and ultimately, you will risk loosing the client you worked so hard to get. A business is built one client at a time; treat each one as if they were your only one.