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7 ways to improve your company's customer service

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 23, 2012 at 5:23 a.m.
Updated Oct. 24, 2012 at 5:24 a.m.


For more information about the Building Better Businesses series, call the Victoria Chamber of Commerce at 361-573-5277. For information about the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center, visit sbdc.uhv.edu or call 361-485-4485.

Improving customer service isn't difficult, Lisa Barr said. It's about having the right tools and following through.

"Communication - verbal and nonverbal - and attitude are important," said Barr, senior business adviser for the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center. "It's nothing new, but it helps to have a reminder sometimes."

Barr spoke Tuesday at Building Better Businesses, a quarterly series by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. There, she offered tips and tricks on improving service.

Here are seven things to remember.

  1. Go beyond the golden rule.

Treat customers the way they don't even realize they want to be treated. Succeeding expectations makes a difference.

  1. Make a good first impression.

People form opinions within six seconds of meeting you. Be friendly, maintain eye contact and look your best. Smile, but keep it genuine.

  1. Make a good last impression.

Ask how the customer's experience was and whether they received what they needed. Thank them for their business, invite them back and consider sending a hand-written note.

  1. Communicate clearly.

Ask questions to make sure you understand the customer, and answer questions clearly. Avoid arguing. You can't change a customer's actions, but you can change their mindset.

  1. Handle problems effectively.

Stay A.L.E.R.T.T. Acknowledge the problem, listen, engage the customer, restate the problem and don't forget to thank them and take action.

  1. Know your job.

Know your business' location and what is expected of you. Be sure you understand the product you sell. If you work in a restaurant, for instance, know the menu.

  1. Reward employees for a job well done.

Incentives such as candy bags motivate people to do good work. Allow them to vent to one another about difficult situations. They'll feel better and others might learn from their experiences.

Source: Lisa Barr, senior business adviser for the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center

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