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Being there for your customers

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Advice on providing excellent customer service

  1. Be available—and responsive. We all know what it feels like when someone won’t return our calls and emails. It’s easy, and sometimes even necessary, to postpone a return message. We may even wait to call someone back until we know we have an answer for them. In such instances, a simple phone call or an email that says, “We haven’t forgotten about you” can do the trick.
  2. Be approachable, positive and courteous. If you’re having a bad day, the customer should never know. And never forget that “please,” “thank you” and “I’m listening” go a long way.
  3. Be open-minded. This means listening to customers’ suggestions and taking their feedback to heart. As Winston Churchill stated, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary.”
  4. Be honest. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we cannot deliver what we’ve promised. If manufacturing is held up or shipping has been delayed, let your customer know immediately. Avoid getting caught in the trap of overpromising but under-delivering.
  5. Be at the forefront. The beauty of running a small business is that you’re the face of the operation. That also can be a problem when things go awry, so it’s up to you to manage customer interactions, every time.

Holly O’Dell is a freelance writer based in Plymouth, Minn.

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