Simple Tips for Great Customer ServiceSimple Tips for Great Customer ServiceSarcasm alert! This blog contains hints of sarcasm and occasional bad language. Well, when I say bad language … in my experience, customer service is, to some, a four-letter word!Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.netI find it wholly bizarre – customer service is something that Steve and I really pride ourselves on. However, I’m becoming increasingly astonished at just how appalling some companies treat their customers!Your Position in the Queue Is …I don’t know about you, but I like nothing more than answering an exam-style list of multiple choice questions on the phone. Furthermore, after answering all those questions, I love being told that they’re experiencing unusually high levels of calls (to find myself only seventh in the queue is often disappointing). The only thing I like more is after keying in my account details, to be asked them again “for security reasons” when I do finally get to speak to someone. Life would be empty without such moments of delight!Don’t Interrupt While I’m TalkingOn the face-to-face side of things, I sometimes feel sorry for the sales person at the counter. There they are, merrily chatting to their friends when along I come, wanting to make a purchase. To those people, I apologise for interrupting. Thankfully, many carry on talking whilst serving me anyway, so I feel pleased then that I’ve not interrupted their conversation.Do They Think They Have No Competition?Seriously though, it strikes me that some companies think they’ve cornered the market so well, they have no competition. However, the brutal reality is that customer service might be the only thing that differentiates them from their competition. Why, then, do so many companies get it so horribly wrong?The SME WorldOK, I know that the above two scenarios won’t apply to many of those that read this blog. However, I bet all of you have experienced those frustrations and thought why does it have to be this way? The purpose of this blog isn’t to suggest you change those practices (because they likely won’t apply), but to highlight that the feelings you have when experiencing those situations are the same feelings your customers will have if you don’t pay attention to giving your customers a great experience.Our List of Simple TipsThe list of tips is never-ending, though certain staples still stand the test of time:Be polite – There is never an excuse for rudeness, not even when dealing with a complaint.Smile – If you deal with customers face-to-face, a smile creates a pleasant atmosphere, even before a word has been spoken. Even when answering the phone, a smile can be easily detectable through tonality and pitch.Listen – Many find this tough, though many of those who do wouldn’t admit it. It can be difficult, don’t get me wrong. However, good listening skills ensure clarity and allows for accurately dealing with queries.Put the customer first – Never mind the workload it puts on you, remember that without customers, you’d have no business!Be timely with your responses – The world is getting faster by the day. Don’t wait around before responding to a query. Deal with it now, or someone else will! If it’s going to take a while to deal with a query, email or text to say you’re on it and give an estimate as to how long it will be before you issue a full reply.Do what you say you will – There’s little that infuriates me more than being promised something that then never materialises. If you say you’ll do something, do it.Go the Extra Mile – This needn’t be delivering the goods to their door by hand. Simply imagine what your customer’s expectations might be and aim to exceed them every time.Ask for feedback – So often overlooked, yet how can you possibly hope to improve if you don’t know what your customers are thinking?As I said, this list is far from exhaustive, though hopefully gives food for thought. The “Sense check”, if you like, is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Would you be happy receiving the level of service that you’re giving?Good News Travels Fast, Bad News Travels FasterIf someone has a bad experience, it is far more likely to be “shared” with others than a good one. In this age of social media, you must do all you can to avoid bad comments. Make sure your customers only have great things to say about you. Even if you’ve made a mistake, that can be turned to your advantage, if dealt with correctly.Remember – the level of service you give might be the only thing that separates you from your competition. Make sure you outstrip your competitors with your service levels and you’ll increase your chances of repeat business no end.