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Customer Appreciation Means Big Bucks for Your Business

by Kim Goff

     How many times have you referred a restaurant to a friend? Think about why you made that referral … was it the food or the service? Maybe it was both, or maybe the service stood out to you. Let’s say the restaurant you refer costs $50 for dinner for two; if you refer four people, and they take your advice, you just made that restaurant $200. On the other hand, if you had a bad experience and told your friends not to go, that restaurant just lost money.

    No matter how good the food is at a restaurant, people always seem to remember how they were treated; if they had to wait “forever” for their food, and how often they saw their server. What it really comes down to is the service. Memorable customer service is what makes people come back over and over again, whether you are running a restaurant, retail store or service business. If your business has excellent food, but terrible customer service, customers are probably not going to come back.

    We live in a busy society where time is everything. The three common pet peeves that customers have with any type of business are waiting for a long period of time, being ignored by employees, and not feeling appreciated as customers. These three issues can make or break a business. By investing in customer service training, companies can greatly improve their bottom line, and nothing is more important during tough economic times. Here are some customer service training tips.
 

 
  1. The customer is always No. 1. This is the best way to train your employees on the importance of customers. “Without customers, there is no profit, without profit, there is no business, without business there is no company, and without the company, there is no you.” When your employees understand the importance of customers to the business, they’ll start to understand how important their roles are as well.
  2. Never make customers wait. Greet customers as soon as they walk in the door. If a customer calls, answer the phone by the second ring. If you are busy with another customer, do not make your new customer wait a long period of time. Acknowledge customers as soon as they come in and see if another employee can assist them. If there is no one available, let them know you are busy with another client and ask if they can wait. Be sure to give them an estimated wait time, and if they cannot wait, ask them if they would like to make an appointment. Always ask customers, immediately, how you can help them.
  3. Never ignore customers. If they walk in, they can walk right out. Even if you already have greeted your customers, you still have to pay attention to them. Always check back in to make sure they have what they need or offer your assistance. Many waitresses get stuck with the check because they never check back in on the customers. Customers will walk out if they feel ignored.
  4. Be professional. Being a business professional means looking, acting and saying things in a certain way. No matter what industry you are in, it’s important to watch what you wear, just as it’s important to pay attention to what you say and how you say it.
        • Always dress appropriately. No matter what the type of business environment
          you work in, wear work-appropriate clothes. Encourage employees to avoid
          wearing anything too casual like sweatshirts or flip-flops. Female employees
          should be encouraged to avoid any clothing that is too tight or revealing.
        • Speak in an appropriate manner. Do not use foul language. Never make any
          negative comments about a customer’s appearance, ethnicity, economic class
          or family.
        • Be enthusiastic. No one wants to deal with an employee who hates his job.
          Even if you do not like your job or are having a bad day, do not show it. This
          turns customers off. If you are not interested in your business or company, why
          should anyone else be?
  5. Show appreciation for customers’ business. This is one of the major factors customers consider when returning to a business. Showing them how much you appreciate their business can turn them into regular clients. The most obvious way to show this is by verbally telling them, “Thank you for your business; we hope to see you again.” This should always be said to your clients, no matter what else you do to show your appreciation. Other ways include “freebies,” coupons or discounts.
  6. Remember your “regular” clients. Once you learn a client’s name, always address him or her by it. Personalize clients’ service by learning what they like or prefer. Get to know something personal about them, whether it’s their hobbies, children or job. The more you can start to personalize service for your regulars, the more appreciated they will feel. There is nothing worse than going to an establishment on a regular basis and having the employees there ask who you are, or, worse, act like they have never seen you before. Your goal is to make every customer a regular client, but personalizing service for your already established clients will make them life-long customers.
 

    Investing in customer service training for your employees can be just as important as perfecting the quality of your business product or service. You can have the best product or service out there, but if you do not treat your customers well, they will not come back. If you treat every customer with the utmost importance, respect and courtesy, however, your outstanding service will get your company more referrals. And the more referrals your customers make, the more money your company makes.

Kim Goff is a professional speaker and author, who works as a communications director for the United Way of York. In addition to being a freelance writer, she also works on the blog, Volunteer Now! for the York Daily Record and is the Philadelphia Special Needs Kids Examiner for www.Examiner.com. She speaks on overcoming obstacles, life balance and women in the workplace, and she is the author of “Female Empowerment – A Personal Journey.” To hire her for your next speaking engagement, e-mail kimgoff@excite.com.


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