No matter what type of business you run or whether you sell products or services, clients and customers should never feel surprised at being treated well. The keys lie in treating everyone who walks through your door with respect and dignity and making superior treatment a customer service standard. A good place to start is with a client-oriented code of conduct and ethics that emphasizes courtesy, active listening, patience and empathy and that considers clients and customers as individuals.
Remember Common Courtesies
Dealing with and assisting clients and customers is not always convenient. Despite this, polite behavior is critical, no matter how busy you might be. As Norma Jo Greenlee, CEO of njSolutions, notes in a presentation developed for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, courtesy is a behavior, not a process. Use proper language when speaking with clients. Address a client’s needs as quickly as possible or find someone who can. If you must place a customer on hold, return frequently to provide updates or ask the customer if you can call him back within a specified time.
Develop Good Listening Skills
One of the best ways to help clients and customers feel important is by practicing active listening. Pay attention and avoid unnecessary interruptions while a customer is speaking. When the customer finishes, provide feedback, such as paraphrasing with a statement like, “It sounds like what you are saying is,” asking questions to clarify or briefly summarizing what the customer said. Once you understand what a customer requires, respond appropriately. For example, assure the customer you will be happy to assist her or ask how she would like to see an issue resolved.
Be Patient with Upset Clients
Although remaining calm when dealing with an upset client can be difficult, you’ll often have a much better chance of resolving a complaint or issue successfully with a patient attitude. Take slow, deep breaths to distance yourself emotionally, and consciously focus on relaxing your muscles. Apologize for any inconvenience, and if a customer becomes completely unreasonable, do not be afraid to bring a supervisor into the conversation after making sure the supervisor understands the situation.
Convey appreciation to every client or customer. However, while the last thing a customer should always hear before leaving is “thank you,” the statement should fit the situation. For example, saying “thanks for your business” might sound flip to an upset customer. Instead, a statement such as “I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced today. We truly appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you again” is more appropriate. In addition, use the client’s name in a parting thank-you statement.