Odds are pretty good that your company provides some form of customer service. But the Information Age has made many products and services virtually indistinguishable from the competition. Businesses from air carriers to zipper manufacturers are struggling to differentiate their offerings. One of the easiest ways to do this is by providing exceptional customer service.
Excellent customer service can be what keeps your business alive. Your goal should be to develop what author Carl Sewell refers to as “customers for life.” Here are 5 Cool Ideas for providing exceptional customer service.
1. Set yourself apart.
Whether you market a product or service, you must find, cultivate and deliver a Unique Selling Point (USP). The USP is what distinguishes your product or service from the competition. A Unique Selling Point can be a special feature or benefit. A USP can also be a slogan, a reputation or simply how you say “hello.”
2. Listen between the words.
Try to understand what the customer is really saying by using something called peripheral listening. An average food server, for example, when asked about the ingredients of the soup, will simply tell you the ingredients. An exceptional server, however, will relay the ingredients and then try to discover why you inquired. They’ll ask “Are you lactose intolerant?” or “Are you allergic to shellfish?”
3. Clichés do not make you distinctive.
Don’t necessarily say and do what everyone else says and does. Just a little twist can help separate your offering from the rest of the competition. Clichés are boring and predictable. Clichés will help keep your product or service from being perceived as unique and distinct. Want to differentiate yourself from the competition? Instead of asking the customer “Can I help you?” ask “Do you know about our sale today?” Don’t say “Have a nice day” when you can say, “I hope to see you again soon.”
4. A customer’s name is her favorite word.
Customer service is more impressive when it is personal. Personalize customer service with power phrases like “What can I help you with right now?” Use the customer’s name when you hand back her credit card. Her name is her favorite word.
5. Continuous follow-up is good service.
After the transaction, use phone calls, e-mails, and text messages to show the customer that you have unconditional positive regard for them. A phone call after the sale says “You were important to me when you were making the purchase and you’re important to me now.” This type of phone call can establish intense customer loyalty and generate tons of referrals.