Six Rules of Customer Service

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In today's competitive direct marketing industry, everyone knows the importance of providing good customer service.

To stay ahead of your competitors and to keep your customers coming back, consider the following six cardinal rules of customer service. Following these easy steps will make your job easier and, more important, will allow customers to have a better experience with your company.

People before paperwork. When someone walks up to you or calls you while you are working on a project, drop everything for that person. Remember, paper can wait, but people should not. Paper will not walk away, but the customer might. Drop what you are doing and pay immediate attention to the customer.

Rushing threatens customers. Most phone calls are an interruption. How many times each day do you sit by your phones, hands clasped, saying, "Please let so and so call?"

When you answer a phone call and rush the caller, it threatens that caller. Quick, short answers are intimidating and so are one-word answers. It makes you sound cold and unfriendly to the caller. Slow down and smell the roses. Sure, you may understand something quick, but rushing the customer along will only leave him feeling intimidated, and you will not see that customer come back. Take it easy. Remember, speed is not success.

Company jargon. Be careful not to use your company jargon with customers. You may understand it very well, but the customer may not. You will only cause plenty of unnecessary confusion.

Company jargon should stay within your company. Mistakes and miscommunication thrive on company jargon. You will be far more familiar and comfortable with the terms and abbreviations than your customer. You do not impress anyone with the knowledge that customers do not possess.

Some of the companies I call seem to have words and abbreviations that would make the CIA green with envy. Use simple, easy-to-understand words with customers. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Don't be too busy to be nice. Everyone is busy. Being busy does not give you carte blanche to be rude.

I once called my printing company and the executive who had always helped me in a professional manner was this time rather curt and sharp, not his jovial self. I asked whether anything was wrong. He quickly said, "I'm just so busy."

Well, I made him less busy. I found another printer. Don't ever be too busy to be nice. Remember, you meet the same people coming down as you do going up. They will remember you.

"Uh-huh" is not "thank you." "There ya go" is not "you're welcome."

During just one day, count the number of times people forget to say "thank you" and "you're welcome."

When a customer spends money, he wants to hear a big smiling, "Thank you, we appreciate your business."

When the customer says "thank you," please do not grunt, "uh-huh." Speak clearly. "You're welcome" is a wonderful phrase. Have your employees use it more often. Your customers cannot hear these important phrases too often.

Be friendly before you know who it is.Have you ever called or walked into a company where you were treated in a rather average manner, and when the employee realized you were a friend of the boss or someone other than an average customer, he brightened up?

Why wait to be friendly? If you are friendly before you know who it is, you will make a much better impression and deliver the same great service to everyone.

Be friendly before you know who it is. Customers need to know you want to work with them, no matter who they are. Remember, sometimes it is too late to smile and be friendly after you know who it is.

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