Use these 6 customer service tips to put meaning into personalized service and manifest true business and brand loyalty.
There is a monumental difference between proclaiming to the world that you deliver personalized customer service and actually putting it into practice. “Personal customer service” has become part of the marketing jargon, so much so that just like other virtuous yet tossed around words (love comes to mind), it has lost a lot of its essential meaning, which is an absolute sin if you want your business to develop roots and grow. It is not uncommon to stick “personal service” into advertising without making it a reality within the intimate space that exists between a business owner and a client who needs help and craves more than technical precision. This dissatisfying gap in authenticity is filled by entrepreneurs such as Minuteman Press franchise owners, where personalized customer service pours into each first greeting and through every interaction. That is because customer service is one of the core values of the Minuteman Press franchise system.
Too many customers are served in ways that are terribly sterile. There is more beyond the robotic, uninspired experience people have as they complete transactions in this heavily automated society we have created for our convenience. The price tag is an increase in digital fatigue and a decrease in the humanity that must be present to build relationships of value. Fortunately, there are still those for whom genuine hospitality is sacred.
Here are 6 easy ways to put excellent customer service into practice so everybody wins, including your bottom line, from Minuteman Press design, print, and marketing franchise experts:
1. Make sure the first words that come out of your mouth are “THANK YOU”: Never fail to thank everyone who calls or comes in to do business with you and mean what you say. Starting off with gratitude puts people in a spending mood. “Thanks for calling Minuteman Press, how may I help you?” is better than having an abrupt greeting with no service value.
- PRO TIP: “Handling the phone properly is such an easy way to execute genuine customer service. Answer the phone with a proper greeting and identify yourself with a smile on your face. It’s rarely one big thing that causes a franchisee to struggle. It’s often a combination of little things which are very simple fixes, solutions recommended by the franchisor and implemented by the new franchisee that can turn the business around. Proper phone handling, regular business hours, prompt quote returns and always asking “Is there anything else I can help you with?” are all recommendations I give to Minuteman Press franchise owners in my region.” –Dan Byers, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President, Southern California
2. Immerse your whole team in the culture of customer service: You will hire, train, let go and retain team members for various reasons. If the whole team as a “WE” are not ALL invested in tending to the personal care of each client, it affects business sales eventually and not for the better. If you hire the wrong person, who does not honor your culture of hospitality, it will definitely affect your business negatively. The good news is that making sure your whole team engages in a consistent and excellent culture that puts customer service first will only affect your business positively.
3. The old adage is true: Treat people like you want to be treated…and take it a step further: In business, you will likely utilize different vendors. The service you get from those vendors should be professional. By choosing to do business with vendors who provide authentic personal customer service, it reinforces the importance of how you treat your own clients. If vendors don’t pick up the phone, are slow to respond, or tend to complain or argue, then take your business elsewhere. You will want to do business with people who are delightful to do business with and guess what? So does everyone else. So make sure you and your staff are a delight.
4. Do not make them wait for quotes: One great piece of advice that Southern California RVP Dan Byers gives to Minuteman Press franchise owners is to book quotes as soon as you can. Some new business owners are afraid to price too high or too low and delay response. Send the quote to them! A lot of time the buyer is looking for a solution and getting it into their hands before your competition is wise and being prompt is also courteous. “Do not negotiate against yourself”, adds Dan Byers. “You are supposed to make money on the job. Sometimes customers just want to know how much to write the check for.”
5. Send Thank You notes with a twist: Printing sharp-looking stationery and sending hand-written notes to customers and prospects along with quotes and deliveries adds a great personal touch to your customer service approach. Another thing you can do is throw in something like a $5 coffee gift card to clients to show them how much you value their business. You can write something in your note that says, “Thank you for letting us quote you on your office stationery…have a cup of coffee – on us!” You can’t always measure accurately how that little extra something affects your bottom line, but the value of a loyal, long-term client could potentially be $100,000 or more, which is not bad in exchange for a $5 coffee gift card.
6. Make your email signature count and encourage customer reviews: Your email signature is a great opportunity to thank customers and also encourage reviews. A sample email signature is: “Thank YOU for your business! Help us give you 5 STAR SERVICE by leaving us an online review! Simply follow the link below.” Just make sure to include the appropriate link that your customers can easily click on and leave a positive review of your business.
At the end of the day, customer service should be the standard, not the exception. While businesses say they provide excellent personal customer service, there are few that really work hard to put it into practice every day, with every customer, without fail. By being authentic in your customer interactions and being a genuine business owner, you can be a hero to your clients simply by “keeping it real” and honing your customer service skills.