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Robert Gerrish
Small Business Coach & Author

Robert Gerrish has owned businesses in London and Sydney. He is currently working as a business coach helping fellow entrepreneurs to succeed in their business. Robert has a background in Marketing and Business development. He has columns regularly published in several newspapers and business magazines.
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Top 10 Customer Service Tips for Entrepreneurs Top 10 Customer Service Tips for Entrepreneurs - Robert Gerrish

1. Be there!
There's nothing better than the good old fashioned personal touch- answer your phone within 3 rings; give your name and be 'present' to the caller; avoid sounding rushed or too busy. Every customer wants to feel special; really being listened to fosters this sense.

If using voicemail/message-bank, make the message clear and well spoken; use a friend's voice if necessary. Making your message day-specific - 'Hello, it's Monday the 17th .' - can help allay fears that a message may go unnoticed.

If you're using a mobile, try to avoid customers having to leave messages in two places as this can create the impression of being illusive and hard to reach. In these circumstances consider diverting your office phone straight to your mobile.


2. Don't park in the best spot
Whether applied literally or metaphorically, this is a classic faux pas to avoid. How often do we see the best parking spots reserved for the owner or staff?

What a signal to send a prospect!

Take a look around your business and see if you're unnecessarily pinching the best spot.


3. Expand customer expectations

Do more than is expected. The phrase 'under promise, over deliver' is the perfect maxim for customer service. Don't promise delivery schedules you can't meet, set a comfortable date and surprise by delivering early.

Respond to messages promptly, remembering that any response is better than a long delay.

Above all, communicate constantly - never leave a customer wondering what's happening. Communicate every step of the way.


4. Ask permission

The advent of email and the dislike of unsolicited mail or 'spamming', is a reminder of the importance of seeking permission in certain instances.

Whether it's the use of nicknames, making a personal comment within a business conversation or divulging your customer's identity to others - show respect and caution and always ask permission.


5. Show understanding
To truly cement a new relationship, demonstrate you fully understand the requirements of your customer.

Sometimes we get stuck behind the language of our business and forget the outcome our clients are seeking. Listen out for indicators signalling what's wanted and reflect these back using plain English.

Phrases like "Let me see if I fully understand your requirements" followed by a clear summary will do much to make your customer feel comfortable and in the right hands.

Take notes and listen for emotive language - heightened emotions are links to customer needs. Show that you've heard them and state how your product or service can fulfil the need.


6. Manage your image
If you employ contractors, freelancers or temps within your business, your customers will always judge them as if they are your employees.

Anyone representing your business adds to (or detracts from) your image. Control your image by establishing policies and procedures. Customer service should be seen as a business-building virus that permeates everywhere. Keep your virus healthy!


7. Give business to others
Occasionally what we have to offer is simply not what a customer is looking for, or our services do not encompass all that is required. In these instances it pays to be knowledgeable and to refer customers to others.

Businesses that truly serve their customers don't rest until each customer is satisfied. Be generous with your referrals, it will pay dividends.


8. Watch the big boys
Big business watches out for trends and looks to see where opportunities exist that small business is not satisfying. This also works in reverse.

Keep abreast of big company customer service initiatives and look to translate them into your business or better still, improve them.


9. Follow-up and feedback
Service doesn't stop when the sale is concluded, this is when it's reinforced and expanded. Follow-up customers to ensure their needs have been met, ask for feedback on the key areas of your business dealings and show your sincerity by making changes whenever relevant.

Internet success stories (yes, there are plenty!) are a great example of how customer behaviour, habits and patterns can be immediately applied to great advantage.

Listen to comment, make changes, experiment.


10. Say thank you!
Say it everywhere. Say it on your invoices; say it out loud; say it to your staff. Never conclude a sale without a thank you.

 

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This article was written by Robert Gerrish who supports business owners on a path to loving their work. His website is brimming with resources for those going it alone in business. A great example is his FREE report featuring 101 practical tips direct from business owners. Get this and more at:
www.flyingsolo.org




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