Businesses spent a lot of time trying to attract customers to their product or service. They also tried to win their trust and close the process with a sale. This tactic is obvious to most people. The post-sale follow up with customers is often overlooked, especially when it comes online businesses. The time following a sale should be viewed as an opportunity to not only improve our products, but also to build long-lasting relationships and trust with our customers.
It is much harder to win a customer than it is to keep a relationship with an established customer. Maintaining existing customer relationships is equally important, and in fact, I would even say that it’s more important than acquiring new customers. How can we make our customers feel valued? Follow up with customers. It may take as little as sending an email or calling a customer to follow up after a sale. Screaming Bee has made it my personal goal to reach every customer who purchases our voice-changing software MorphVOX within 2 weeks of a sale.
Is this a slow process? It sure does. It is worth it. Absolutely! This allows us to receive valuable feedback from our customers to improve our software. It also establishes a stronger, longer-lasting relationship that goes well beyond the point of sale.
Best Responses to Rude Customers
Many people were shocked that I would spend the time to speak with them. They were also touched by the personalized attention they received. It was quite rare for online businesses to follow-up with customers, which surprised me. Some of the comments I received in return for my efforts were:
- “I really appreciate your personal touch, as opposed to the automated ‘we have been sent your email’ spam, followed by… well, not …”.
- “Huh! Never had customer support quite as good …”
People do not like to be ignored, but they love being heard. Many businesses ignore their customers, resulting in them losing them. Your customers are the heart of your business. They provide the backbone of your business, as well as the word-of-mouth marketing that is so important. Treat your customers as if they were your family. Communicate with your customers as if they were family. They will leave if you don’t communicate with them.
Customer Service: The Ultimate Convenience
Every business strives to provide exceptional customer service. However, there is a fine line between service or servility. Obsessiveness is a form of extreme servility. Here’s the word. Even if it’s not something you know, it’s something you’ve probably experienced. It could be at a restaurant or clothing shop, or a car dealership. Employees hope that their attention will result in sales and large tips. It’s one thing being attentive to customers’ needs, but it’s quite another to be so present that customers feel they want to adopt you.
I placed an order for a gift of steaks, roasts, and other meat products from a mail-order company a few months back. I called the recipient to verify that they received their gift, but no acknowledgement was sent. It turned out that the parcel delivery company had delivered the package to the wrong address. However, the recipients were kind enough to call me to inform them about the error.
Only the delivery man had made a mistake on the mailing label. No one heard anything from him or his company. The meat company is not immune to the same fate. Company representatives began calling me daily to make sure that I was happy and to check if I wanted to order more meat. After the third call, which resulted not in any additional purchases from my part, I requested to be removed from the phone list. Being nice hadn’t worked. Perhaps there would be a greater force. Remember that I have never had a problem with the mail-order companies. At this point customer obsession turned into customer service attention.
Although I thought I had made the point, I began receiving calls from my work number about a week later. I was able to use the caller ID function on my phone and saw an area code, but not the number that I recognized. I answered my normal way, but the caller kept saying nothing. Then he hung up.
It happened many times before I realized it was the cattle crew. This was beyond control. From my home phone, I had already said no. My business line was going to get the same answer. They were now invading my workday without me saying a word.
Last week, at 9:17 p.m., there was one final call. After dinner was over, no one was thinking about food and especially not T-bones. Since we were all asleep, no one was conscious of anything. After a long struggle to get the three year-old to stop fussing about going to bed, he finally fell asleep. Then, the phone rang. The phone rang and my child screaming for Mommy woke me from deep sleep.
Too sleepy to look at the caller ID, however, I answered. It was another company representative, asking me if I’d like to order more filets. It was time for me to grab the bull by its horns. “No,” I replied, “not now and not ever again!” I don’t recall exactly what I said but I know that I mentioned that I had asked for my number and name to be removed from their contact list. I was utterly baffled that he called so late at night.
This is an example of how bad customer service can be. This was probably due to someone misinterpreting the data and thinking that I would place a large order again. We may never know. Perhaps I would have done it later, but the “overkill” from the sales staff proved to be a deal-breaker for me. This is a warning to businesses who think that “hard selling” will always work. It will often backfire, and cause the exact opposite effect you desire.
I’ve recently conducted a less-than-statistically-valid study polling people (my office manager, my aunt, and a very nice woman behind me in a line at Safeway) about customer disservice. These are 10 tips to help you keep your customers satisfied, even though not all of the results have been released.
- Don’t assume that customers will be interested in purchasing something just because your business model suggests so.
- Limit the number of unsolicited calls that are made to the same person.
- You can call at any time.
- Listen to the words of another person after you have heard “Hello”.
- If the customer says “no”, don’t argue
- Respect the wishes of the customer
- Offer service to someone by phone or in person. Be available but don’t hover.
- You cannot call someone to order add-on services or purchases from the internet.
- Be aware that caller ID is used by a lot of people, so don’t hang up and leave without saying anything.
- Ask yourself this question: Would you like to receive the call that you are getting ready to make
This is only a guideline. Perhaps you have your own pet peeves. Send them to our website. We are open to hearing from many people. You don’t need to contact me about purchasing anything that was on four legs and had a pulse up until recently. Thanks to the last person who tried, I am now a vegetarian!
Are You Able to Pay the Price of Rudeness in Your Business?
Did you ever consider how rudeness could be impacting your bottom line? How much does it cost your company if you and the people you represent lack proper manners. How many clients are turned off when employees prefer to have a conversation with one another than with the person who purchased your product or service?
Is it possible to count how many people have hung up and called someone else after the person answering your call put them on hold without permission? How would the client rate your professionalism if the employee who greets him at your office is dressed for a day on the beach?
Are your employees aware that it is less friendly than being friendly to call clients by their first names unless they ask? Do your employees treat each other with respect and courtesy? Are they respectful of each other’s cubicles and invisible walls? Are they a team that helps each other? Or do they act like cast members of Survivor?
It’s easy to forget the important details that will help you grow your business and increase your profits in today’s fast-paced world of business. To test your business etiquette skills, take this quick quiz. Next, pass it on to your employees.
- Business etiquette depends on rank and hierarchy. True/False
- Draw a line through the incorrect information and put the correct information on your card. True/False
- Business casual is a dress code that is one-half the formality of a business professional. True/False
- It is unnecessary to ask permission from clients before you use their first names in today’s relaxed business environment. True/False
- Callers are not afraid to ask for information, just as they would for a person. True/False
- If you don’t feel the need to, you don’t have smile or make eye contact. True/False
- In the business world, handwritten notes are not appropriate. True/False
- Before offering his services, a man should wait until a woman has started to do business before he offers his. True/False
- Complete the “To” line at the end of an e-mail message. True/False
- Talking in the office about small things is a waste. True/False
- You can be heard eating, drinking and chewing by others over the phone. True/False
- You should not answer a phone call from someone calling you while you are on the phone with a client. True/False
- True. True.
- False. False business cards are not professional. Get new cards printed right away.
- True. True. Business casual does not mean you can wear your favorite clothes to work. Everyone needs to be professional.
- False. It’s not true that clients can be called by their first names simply because the work environment has become less formal. You should use their last and titles until they request you to.
- True. True. Clients will be content to wait while you search for the information they need and work on their behalf. If they wait for more than 30 seconds, they start to question how valuable you are to them and what they want from you.
- False. This is only true if you are planning a going-out-of-business sale. Every client deserves genuine smiles and eye contact.
- False. False. Sending a note in your own hand will make you stand out from the rest of your competitors.
- False. False. Every woman should be ready to shake hands with anyone she meets in business. A woman who hesitates to shake hands with a man in the business could be a sign of lack of confidence.
- True. True. You won’t feel embarrassed or need to apologize if you wait until your message has been proofread and all attachments have been added before you begin the “To” line.
- False. False. Small talk at the right time, on the right topic, and in the right place is a great way for co-workers to develop relationships.
- True. True. Your clients may not be able to see you munching on potato chips, but that doesn’t mean they won’t hear your conversations.
- False. False. You can check your messages later privately by turning off your phone.
These questions are difficult for employees. Give your employees the information they need to feel comfortable in business situations and to help you build your business. Do it now if you haven’t taken basic business etiquette training. Don’t let rude behavior cost you business. Your employees should be able to communicate with clients via the telephone. They must also understand how to deal with clients. Nobody is born with good manners. People need to learn and be reminded from time to time of what they already know.