“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart
Sam Walton lived a life which displayed everything he believed in. Over the years, especially since Wal-Mart became a publicly traded company on the stock market, Sam’s vision and philosophy have slowly been forgotten. Although Wal-Mart may not offer the greatest customer service today, Sam’s words on the importance of customers to any business are timeless.
If business was to be compared to a car, customers would be the fuel. No fuel and the car cannot go anywhere. No customers and the business cannot go anywhere.
All businesses have some kind of customers. The philosophy behind the content in this article is just as applicable to personal relationships as it is to customer service in business. Although we are conditioned to believe our personal relationships are different from business relationships, in the end it is all the same; how you deal with people. Whether it is in your personal life or business, the principles shared in this article will benefit anyone who is willing to apply them in their situation.
Some have other businesses as customers, other have the general public as their customers. There are also internal customers and external customers. Internal customers are employees and external customers are those who your employees deal with. Keep your internal customers happy and they will naturally be compelled to do everything they can to keep your external customers happy.
This article deals with external customers and seven proven customer service principles which are guaranteed to create raving fans. Raving fans are customers who are so enthusiastic about doing business with your company that they become walking, talking billboards advertising and raving about your products and services to anyone in need of them.
The essence of creating raving fans out of your customers lies in going back to the basics. That’s right, simple strategies which are timeless and guaranteed to create astonishing results.
Also, it is crucial to realize that all successful businesses offer massive value to their customers. Creating products and services which efficiently and innovatively solve problems adds tremendous value to a person or business. This same value is what gets turned into an equivalent amount of profit.
Here are seven proven customer service principles guaranteed to turn the customers you have now and those to come in the time ahead into raving fans. This will naturally create an upward spiral of growth for your business since these very customers will happily share their great experience with your organization with countless others.
Keeping your word is where it all begins
When you say you were going to do something, customers expect you will do it. Since it is the norm for companies to make promises and not keep them, any business which is adamant about keeping their commitments to their customers is warranted to stand apart from the herd. So next time you are telling one of your customers you will do something, make sure that you do it no matter what happens.
Keeping your word with the customers allows them to be able to trust you. Trust is the essential ingredient to any successful long term personal or professional relationship. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built upon. Not just in business, but in general in relationships in life.
Always be honest and tell it like it Is
Your customers are people just like yourself and have more common sense than most businesses are willing to admit. By being honest and telling your customers the truth, you are much more likely to get a positive response to any situation. Given the current technological dynamics of our existence, a customer or client can very easily interact with others and get to the bottom line quickly.
The Internet is and has been changing the way business is conducted around the world. If you say your pricing is the cheapest and customer service the best, it is only a matter of minutes before this can be verified by interacting with others in a global economy. A prospect can do five minutes of research on Google and find out if you are telling the truth or just blowing smoke.
Always think proactively, looking around the corner
Everything in life is a dual creation. What that means is first we create any idea, service, or product in our mind. Once that is done, we then create its physical manifestation in the physical world. Thus it is totally accurate to say that if we wish to change our physical reality, we must first change our mental reality.
Thinking proactively when it comes to customer service boils down to addressing concerns PRIOR to you having to hear from the customer that something needs to be done. A simple example is an Internet Service Provider informing their clients that a necessary upgrade to computer services infrastructure will temporarily disable Internet access on x day at x time. It is simply amazing how much thinking proactively can benefit the bottom line of any organization not just when it comes to customer services, but also business strategy in general.
Deal with problems as best you can yourself, never passing the buck
My greatest mentor once told me that he met a billionaire, that’s right, a billionaire, who shared with him that “until a person realizes problems are a normal state of affairs, they have not even begun to mature yet.” Whether you wish to admit or not, problems in life are just as much a part of reality as eating, breathing, and walking. A person can certainly structure their life in such a manner that they can minimize those problems; however when the problems do arise they must be dealt with.
The best way to deal with any problem is THROUGH IT. What that entails is when problems arise; you simply stop and evaluate what is happening. Based on your evaluation, the problem is then to be addressed according to a chosen plan.
When a customer calls or walks in with a problem, it is an absolute opportunity to solidify their trust in your organization and prove that they can count on you to get it fixed. The first step is simply clearing up the facts and getting to the bottom line of exactly what needs to be addressed. Once the problem is clearly understood, it can be eradicated. The more authority your employees have to address customer problems, the better it is since nothing upsets customers more than being passed from department to department when dealing with a problem.
There is no point in arguing with a customer because it is a lose/lose situation
The best way to deal with an argument is to downplay its confrontational aspect and direct all energy and attention towards a solution. The best question to ask yourself is: What can be done to make the customer feel happy and cared for?
A customer can totally be wrong; however most of the times they simply need education to better understand the situation at hand.
It is also very important to separate an objective argument from a personal attack. If a person is frustrated because a product or service has not lived up to its standard, it is essential for your company’s representative dealing with the customer to realize that the customer is upset at the situation and not at them personally. Arguments often turn personal even when the people involved in the argument had nothing to do with the creation of the problem to begin with.
Accept your mistakes, learn from them, and do not repeat them
My greatest mentor, who is a professional drag racer at heart, also shared with me that in professional drag racing “the one who makes the least mistakes wins.”
We all make mistakes. Some of us accept that we made a mistake, evaluate the situation, learn the lesson and move on, while others get stuck in a never-ending state of denial. “What did I do wrong? I am not responsible for it!” is a common theme in their life.
Acknowledgment always precedes resolution. When a company’s customer service representative is dealing with a situation where a mistake has been made by the company, the best thing which can be done is taking ownership of the issue at hand. The anger and emotion around any issue can be minimized by admitting fault and diverting all energy towards a resolution. Customers are normal people just like the rest of us and when they hear that a mistake was made, and that you apologize for it and focus on the solution, the energy balance shifts from being upset to feeling content that the issue at hand will be professionally addressed.
You may have heard before “when you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” There is always something to be learned from any situation in life. Your general attitude will determine how you look at life, which will bleed into any business you are a part of. With each mistake, it is essential to realize what went wrong, how it went wrong, and most importantly what can be done in the future to prevent the same situation from occurring.
Consistency is the name of the game for lasting success
If you do something once, great. If you do it twice, awesome. If you do it three times, brilliant. And if you do it over and over, consistently, congratulations my friend, if you happen to be doing things the right way, you are officially a success.
Repetition is a common theme for most of what we do in life. When the six customer service principles discussed above are practiced consistently, customers realize over time that the integrity of how you choose to run your business is unable to be compromised.
Always remember, people buy more so because they want to, than they need to (Why do you think the average family in the west has so much debt?). Similarly, customers do business with companies because they WANT to do business with.
If your customers truly believe that your company can be counted upon, not in times when everything is fine but in times where there are problems and challenges, they will choose to do business with you because they know that no matter what you will get the job done.
About the author:
Imran Rahman is a young entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and author living in Tampa, FL. He has a deep passion for sharing the exact science of creating results and achieving dreams. He has chosen sharing knowledge with others in the areas of spirituality, success, happiness, health, relationships and finances as his life mission. He can be contacted at imranrahman.com.
It will look like this: Seven Service Principles Guaranteed to Create Raving Fans