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Whether it is before or after the sale, your customer service will play a huge role in your profitability and viability as a business. Equally as important as a purchase consideration as price is the customer’s perception of your ability to provide service and have trust in the products or services you sell.

Customer service begins with the first interaction your customer has with you be it online, by telephone, or in person. Many potential sales are lost because in that initial introduction the customer determined you would not be able to meet their needs or that they could not trust you to do as claimed.

Do not take the basics for granted. Make sure you are giving a professional appearance. Web sites must look orderly and be easy to navigate. Telephones always need to be answered in a professional and uniform manner. In person there should be a friendly greeting and offer to provide assistance if it is required.

After the basics that are expected you need to use your customer service skills to set yourself apart. This can be done in many ways but here are some ideas easily incorporated.

  • Online stores need to gain trust and confidence. Most have prominent displays of a phone number or link declaring “For Orders” or “Order Here Now”. The simple addition of ‘or questions and further assistance’ in the same graphic or button tells the customer it is not only about the sale to you (increasing their likelihood to buy without further questions or assistance).
  • On the telephone adding a personal touch inspires confidence. An operator or receptionist that answers a call with “Acme Box Company – how may I direct your call?” sounds professional. The same person saying “Thank you for calling Acme Box Company. This is Linda. How may I assist you?” makes the customer feel important and trust the company is interested in helping. Even though the end result of both is hold while they forward a call to the correct extension one is far more customer service oriented.
  • In person greeting the customer and letting them know you want to assist is imperative. It is particularly important to use proper tone and body language in person. “Good Afternoon, if you need help please ask” called over shoulder as you walk away is not an inviting or welcoming greeting. When asking “Can I help you?” it must be understood the answer of ‘no thank you – just looking’ is an automatic response that should get a reply of “Thank you, is I am happy to assist you with questions or finding anything if I can” to allow the customer opportunity to accept assistance.

The handling of post-sale questions or concerns should be equally emphasised and customer focused. Proper handling of these concerns is the most important step in establishing a repeat customer. It is a large fallacy that the customer is always right but the customer always has the right to be heard and receive an explanation.

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