Sunday, 28 December 2008

Five Tips For Improving Customer Service in 2009

I’m lucky enough to have developed relationships with a great network of suppliers for my business: small creative agencies, freelancers and other service companies. Most of these tick that box of being a good ‘safe pair of hands’; people who will deliver the job, no matter what. People who will go beyond the call of duty, sorting things out late at night or on a weekend. But like many of us, whether as a business or as a consumer, I have had some really bad service in 2008.

Here are my 5 tips for everyone out there to improve your customer/client service/experience (based on a few not-so-good experiences I’ve had recently):

1) IF IT'S GOING TO BE LATE, TELL US! If you’ve told the client the products or order will arrive on Friday and you know they won't be ready in time, let them know straight away. Don’t sit on the news, or wait until the client chases you – flag it up, so they know about it. It might not be good news, but if they know about it then at least they can make contingency plans or necessary changes their end.

2) COMMUNICATE APPROPRIATELY. Sure, I love brevity but don’t send clients two-word responses from a BlackBerry (unless it was a question that had a Yes/No response). Be courteous and remember why you are the supplier and they are the client (i.e. they pay you).

3) BELIEVE IN IT! Don't try and sell the client a product or service and then half way through say it's not really that good. If you don't have belief in yourself or your product, pack up and go home.

4) BE AVAILABLE! Especially in this economic recession, be available. Don’t whinge that you don’t have enough work if you decided to shut down for two weeks over Christmas. If you want to be successful, you have to be open and available. Like the estate agent that closed for 10 days and told my friend she couldn’t view the house she was interested in, or the company that closed early for Christmas, if you don’t bother being available, clients will find someone who is.

5) REMEMBER THE FOLLOW-UP: if you're selling a client something don't be great at getting them to buy and then be bad at the details afterwards, not returning calls or making sure they’re happy. Because that’s crap.

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