Ask any company and they will usually tell you that word of mouth is their most effective marketing tool – at least for businesses who are good at what they do. But how many of us capitalise on that marketing method and pro-actively work it, instead of leaving it to chance?
- Do you keep people waiting? If people call you, email you, recommend you… how quickly do you get back to them? Are you very responsive, or are you slow to return calls and quotations? (These are income-generating activities and people may be ready to buy now – nothing other than existing customers is more important)
- Could you communicate with your customers more effectively? There is nothing customers like more than to know what’s going on – particularly if you can’t deliver what you promised. Just look at British Airways’ recent example in the volcanic ash eruption, where they turned bad press regarding the strikes into good press about their service levels and the way they looked after their customers in a crisis.
- Do you make it easy to contact you? Is your telephone number on every page of your website? Is your email address on your business cards? If people want to call you, can they do so?
- Talk to People. When customers do call, do they speak to a machine or a human being? Is there an option on the machine to speak to an operator? If we have an issue, we usually want to chat it through with someone – is that something you make simple (or would you rather they didn’t call)?
- Do you ask for complaints? These are far and away your best chance to create a loyal customer – people want to know how you’ll react when something goes wrong. A complaints handling system and staff empowered to deal with such issues can be worth their weight in gold. No-one expects you to be perfect all the time – but they do expect you to admit when you’re wrong.
- If customers are happy, do you ask them to write you a testimonial or recommend you to friends and family? If you ask, they just might.
- Do you say ‘Thank You’? If people do recommend you, how often do you call them up and say ‘ thanks’ or send them a gift? If you thank them, they might just do it again!
I could write tips on customer service for weeks – and still not cover everything, but hopefully these will give you a starting point. If you have any to add, please post a comment and share your experiences.