1. Customer service is all about customers' needs first and your needs second.
If your customers expect a response from you in 24 hours and you always respond much later, that's putting your needs first and their needs second.
2. Customers are like a spouse, they need to feel special to continually respond to your offers.
You make your customers feel special by over-delivering in every area, especially in those areas they don't expect. Imagine how you'd feel if you sent an email with a question to a merchant and they responded within half an hour with an answer when you were expecting an answer the next day. You would definitely feel special. It's a wonderful feeling. Create this feeling within your customers.
3. Stay in contact with your customers, not only when you need to make a sale.
This could be as simple as sending an online greeting on holidays. It could be giving helpful advice that you researched or offering something free that they really appreciate. Make sure whatever you do the quality is on par or better than whatever you'd sell them. This also means the presentation or packaging. Remember you always want to appear as putting their needs ahead of yours, even if you don't all the time.
4. The service you provide after the sale should be just good or better than the service provided before the sale.
Have you ever called the sales department of a company and the representative was more than helpful, and then once you bought a product and called their customer service department you were greeted by a machine that put you on hold for over an hour? Even worse, when you finally got someone they tried to get you off the phone as quickly as possible. What if their customer service department were to take the attitude of the sales department and be as eager to help you? Wouldn't you would be a loyal customer?
5. The perception of the quality and use of your products and services that you project should be honest.
There are few things more infuriating than to be told the benefits you'll get from a product or service and then to find out you didn't get what was promised. If enough determined customers get angry they could put you out of business. Look at honesty as a service to your customers and prospects that builds trust. Have you ever thought about customer service in this way?
6. Your customer service personnel should be well trained for the job.
There are few things consumers dislike more than a company that have well-trained sales people and poorly trained customer service personnel. You do not want your customers spreading bad publicity about your customer service, since if they do they'd be reversing your marketing efforts. So spend just as much time training your customer service personnel as you do your sales force.
7. Your customer service should be as good as or better than the competition or you won't keep your customers for long.
Reputable companies have the least trouble selling their products and services. The marketplace has developed trust and admiration for how they operate and how they treat their customers. One of the tenets of a reputable company is its excellent customer service. When any company has great customer service even the most difficult customers can walk away feeling better than if they had dealt with the competition.
8. Your customers should receive a consistent service.
Walk into any McDonalds in the world and what you'll find are consistent services. Everyone knows what they'll get when they walk into a McDonalds Restaurant. Fries and hamburgers are prepared the same way. Imagine if one day you walked into a McDonalds Restaurant and got well-prepared fries and another day you got over-cooked fries, you wouldn't like the inconsistency, would you? Your customers expect the same consistency as franchisees are renowned for providing.
9. Give your customers the benefit of the doubt even when you think they are lying.
Remember, only a few customers will take advantage of you. Follow the model of Procter and Gamble, a consumer goods company. A customer once wrote in about a bad diaper and they sent several cartons of diapers to this mother. Can you imagine the word-of-mouth promotion they got from this mother instead of an angry customer spewing out bad publicity? Consider any amends made to customers as a cost of doing business.
10. Create and project an impressive image of your company and the competition will have to work very hard to seduce and steal your prospects and customers.
This is how brands develop. Brands work on the projection of images. "Sony" and "Lexus" both project images of quality and great customer care. If there are two products or services of identical quality and one sells better at a higher price using a different brand and all else is equal then image is the reason for the difference.
These ten tips will improve any company that applies them. And since they improve the customer service function the customer retention rate will be higher as well.