The recession that began in 2007 has hurt the bottom line for many companies and industries. Layoffs, unemployment, and reduced consumer spending all contribute to dismal sales.
Although consumers are spending less, you can still maintain your revenues through one simple step: providing your customers with fantastic customer service. By building an emotional rapport and meeting the needs of your customers, you will develop a deeper loyalty that will pry open even the tightest wallets.
It Costs You Less to Retain Customers
During a recession, it is very important to consider the cost of acquiring new customers. On average, the cost to acquire a new customer is five times the cost of retaining a current one. Keeping your existing customers happy is one easy way to minimize recession effects.
Make the effort to get your customers back to your business. It may mean spending a little more time on average for each customer, but the returns will be worth the effort, and your business will emerge a continued powerhouse with a reputation for customer service when the recession ends.
The Service Culture Realized
Do you have an existing customer service culture that gleams? Or do you need to polish your service strategies to get back on track? Here are some tips to keep your business customer service oriented during a recession:
- Ask Politely about Placing the Customer on Hold - If your staff is currently managing dozens of phone calls, you should still ask politely, "May I place you on hold momentarily?" You should then wait for the customer to respond before actually pressing the "hold" button. This is a much better customer service approach than the standard, "Hold please" that too many customers hear on a regular basis. Try to never keep a caller on hold longer than a few seconds. Even if you need to keep them holding for a little while, make sure to check in with them and provide them updates.
- Create an Experience - Too many customer service representatives today are curt, use incomplete sentences, and provide the bare minimum amount of help. Each time you interact with a customer, you have an opportunity to create a positive experience. Instead of simply addressing their problem or questions, create an overall experience that is warm, friendly, and personal.
- Remember the Customer's Name - Whether you talk to them live and in-person or over the phone, always get the customer's name and use it frequently during the conversation.
- Always Ask If There Is Anything Else You Can Do - Meeting the current needs of a customer is never enough. Always ask if there is anything else you can do. By showing that you are happy to go above and beyond, they know they can trust you and will reward your business with loyalty.
- Provide an Acceptable Solution - Sometimes you are not able to get the customer exactly what they want. The key to remember is not to tell them what you cannot do. Rather, tell them what you can do. Provide alternate solutions to problems, and try to offer more than one alternative. Give the customer a choice. By being flexible and offering to do something to appease a customer, he or she will be grateful.
- Always Thank The Customer - Whether the customer has been aggressive or grateful, never end the conversation without saying thank you. A simple thank you will let them know you value their patronage.
There are hundreds of things you can do to improve your customer service culture. With consumer spending behavior being conservative, you want to let them know that you appreciate them spending their hard-earned money with you. Embrace the customer service culture in your business, and you will enjoy the results.
- Meredith Estep