Customer Service: The Key to Repeat Business

So, your have started you business. You are ready for anything. You have clients signed on and you are off and running. The trick now is, how do you get them to come back.
Good prices and a quality product or service will get them in the door. What you need though, is repeat business. With so many businesses to choose from, how do you make sure that your customers will come back?

The key is quality customer service. Your grand opening prices, and your brilliant marketing will get them to come to you the first time. It’s your excellent service that will keep them coming back.

There are some simple things that you can do to make sure your clients know that their business is valuable to you and turn them into loyal customers.

No matter how many clients you have and how small the client you are with now is, make sure they have your full attention. Everyone likes to fell important. This account may seem like a small one compared to your other clients, but to the client, this is their life’s work. You will want to avoid interruptions. If you are speaking over the telephone, try not to put the client on hold. Even if the other caller is a bigger client. Let them leave a message and call them back when you are finished. Don’t multi-task when you are with a client. Check your e-mail, messages, and do paperwork, either before or after the meeting. A client will feel that you are not fully committed to the project if you can’t even speak to them without shifting focus.

Always do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. Unrealistic time lines, canceled appointments, and un-returned phone calls will destroy confidence. All that time you spent convincing the client that you are the one for the job will be for naught. Be honest when you deal with clients. If it will take three days, say three days. If it will take longer, say so. If you have a good reason for not being able to complete a project in the original time frame. Tell the client exactly what the problem is, and what is being done to over come it. “I was busy with another client” is not going to be satisfactory to the client. They will feel like you can’t handle their business and look for someone else who can.

Be professional. Don’t discuss your other clients. Don’t tell one client anything good or bad about another client. They don’t want to hear you talk bad about another client. They will leave wondering if you talk bad about them to others too. The also don’t want to hear about how wonderful your other clients are, they may take it as an attack on the way they do business. It’s best to just keep the conversation on the business at hand. Your client will appreciate your all-business attitude.

Return phone calls promptly. People don’t like to leave messages in the first place. They will appreciate it if you call them back right away. Remember, your clients are busy people too. They are calling you for a reason, they need something. Keeping them waiting will cause them to not only question your commitment to the job, but also your professionalism. Also, not returning phone calls can possibly give the appearance that you are avoiding them and have something to hide.

Keep smiling. This may sound clichÃ?© but it is very important. Clients want someone who enjoys what they do. They don’t want to deal with someone who is upset, stressed, or unhappy. Not only at the meetings but on the phone as well. Over the phone can take a little more effort. Because the client can’t see you, they have to hear your smile. You don’t have to over do it. Just be sure that you are smiling when you are talking. It will make a difference.

Say “thank you.” Since the client is the one asking you to do something for them, it seems that they should be thanking you. Just remember that without your clients, you would not have a business. Make sure that you treat them that way. Be sure to thank them for their payment and for their business. Thank them for choosing you. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

Never, never, talk “down” to your clients. Nobody wants to be talked to like they are less-intelligent, or a bother. Assume they will ask for clarification if they need it. Offer an opportunity to ask questions. Always finish your conversation with, “Is there anything I haven’t covered you wanted to discuss, or do you have any questions?” This does several things, it gives the client the opportunity to ask for clarification or more information. It will also give them the feeling of being involved. By ending conversations this way, the client will also feel that you are making time for them and their business is important to you.

Finally, talk to your clients, not at them. Present options. People like to make decisions. Instead of telling your clients what you are going to do, tell them, ” I can do X, Y, or Z, which do you prefer?” It’s okay to express an opinion as to which you prefer but always keep in mind, it’s the client’s decision. If there is only one way to proceed, make sure the client is clear on the “why” of it. They will appreciate being involved and kept up-to date.

Happy clients will not only offer you repeat business, but will also send you referral business. Word-of-mouth can be very powerful. Think to how many times you have asked friends, “who do you use?” People want to do what their friends do, they want to hire someone their friends have had good experiences with. Keeping your clients happy will ensure they will say, “You should hire my person. He’s great.” instead of, “Whatever you do, don’t hire this guy.” Repeat customers and word-of-mouth will save your marketing dollars and countless promotion hours.

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