Thursday, January 04, 2007

Customer Service Isn’t Brain Surgery

For many companies, customer service means simply smiling and saying “Thank You.” Not to successful entrepreneurial firms. To those companies, customer service is more than an empty slogan—it’s the key to profitability.
Take Sappington International Farmers Market for example. When Tessa Greenspan, owner of the grocery and produce store, received a telephone call from an upset customer who received some poor products, Greenspan knew exactly what she had to do.
“The customer was having a chili dinner for a group of friends, and the beans she bought were not good,” Greenspan said. “She said it made her chili taste terrible. She was very upset. She had all these people coming to her house for chili and the beans were no good.”
Greenspan immediately took action. She personally drove a new batch of beans to the customer’s home, along with a bouquet of flowers. Greenspan’s actions helped the customer salvage her chili dinner, and Greenspan gained a lifelong customer.
“That is just one example of the extremes I will take to satisfy customers,” Greenspan said.
How do you create great customer service? One, know what your customer expects from you. Ask—don’t guess. Conducting customer surveys and talking with clients are good starts.
Two, ask the customer how you’re performing. Remember, your perceptions are meaningless. It’s the customer’s perceptions that count. By concentrating your performance on exceeding customer expectations, you’re building a solid base of repeat and referral business.
Remember: The things that frustrate and alienate us as customers are the very same things that frustrate and alienate your customers. The things that impress you and cause you to do more business with a company are the same things that will impress your customers and encourage their return.

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