-Customer Service through Phone Calls/SMS/E-Mail –
Linda Ellah of LinCornellah blog presented the lecture below yesterday (2nd December 2017) to Business Unusual, a WhatsApp platform comprising business women and men from Nigeria, the United Kingdom, USA and other countries. Please read:
In today’s business, we can’t but use technology. In the bid to get to know our customers and keep them, simple tools we are familiar with daily can also be employed – but, in a customer-friendly and professional way.
Siam Kidd, a world renowned business guru, during a presentation in one of our Millionaire Maker programs, asked us a critical question: “What would your business look like if you never lost a customer?”
He said this is a question he thinks about all the time and something he tells his team all the time; a question we should be thinking about too as we strive to make our businesses unusual, with the goal of transforming Nigeria.
You would always have business competitors, but then, your Customer Service has a potential to differentiate your business from others. This will not happen by chance. The entire team would need to consciously work at it.
In your Customer Service Processes, have a medium of collecting basic information from your Customers as soon as they encounter your business. This could be by way of filling a form (soft/hard copy), doing a Survey, and also by making the customer service email readily available.
Surveys certainly serve a lot other purposes, some of which we shall look at, at another time. These customer information/detail need to be handled with responsibility and respect for your Customers, if you want your business to be perceived as credible.
Customer Service through Phone Calls
There would be several reasons why you may need to make a call to your Customers or you could be called by a customer or potential customer. This presupposes that your business phone contact number is readily accessible or available on the platforms through which you reach out to customers. Plus you have a database of Customers contact. It is also important to assign a specific phone number to Customer Service calls.
Some likely reasons to make a phone call to a Customer:
1. To clarify an order.
2. Provide information on a change
3. Information on a requirement from the customer
4. Update on New products and prizes, etc.
Whatever the reason for the call to the customer, certain etiquette need to be observed:
Some Phone Call Etiquette
1. Ensure your mouth has nothing, including gum. This is to enable you speak clearly.
2. Mention your name and company.
3. Always be polite. Use “Please” and “Thank you” often.
4. Give your full attention: It’s not time to multitask. Also avoid putting on hold, rather ask that you call back shortly. And do call back.
5. If directing the customer to someone else, let them know they can get back to you if they have any issues*
6. Be professional.
I once had an experience with a client. I made a call to her to pass an information. That done, she told me that a certain amount of money which was supposed to be paid to her had not been paid.
I began with apologies and pitiful expressions like “Eyaah”. Waoh! The lady got more and more angry. She blurted out, “I don’t need your apology. I expected you to say: ‘I will ensure it is done!'” I had to repeat a couple of times that “I will ensure the payment is made” to her. Ughh! I later thanked her for teaching me something.
What a morning tablet it was! Have you ever finished a call and you are almost gathering tears in your eyes? My! Of course, the payment had been sent to her, months earlier by our finance team.
Even though I was not directly responsible for the service she wanted, I had to follow up and ensure that she was responded to adequately. As the one who engages with the customers, you are the face of the business, so the customers’ concern is your concern until it is adequately sorted out.
So, calling customers and answering calls by customers is an art to learn and get professional at. You certainly don’t want to lose anyone Customer because either you or a team member was rude on the phone.
This calls for Empathy. When you can empathize with the person on the other end, then you can better handle unexpected occurrences.
Customers Service through SMS
Short Message Service (SMS) often complements Phone Calls. Phone Calls may be intrusive, hence an SMS/Text is another option. Generally, people have varying patience levels for SMS.
SMS: Tips to keep in mind
a. From the onset, let it be an option made by the customer to be contacted by SMS. This should not be taken for granted.
b. Keep your messages short, simple and professional.
c. Have a policy to respond to SMS within 24hrs. Let the customer know this.
Generally, make effort to respond to messages immediately, as some may be urgent. With Business Unusual, the objective of your Customer Service and Reach outs is to *Give your Customers an “Awe” experience* each time they encounter your business.
Give your Customers reasons to keep coming back for one Product/Service or the other.
Customer Service through Email
Some experts have referred to Electronic-mail as “cold contact”: The Customer may be suspicious or feel that his/her privacy has been violated somehow. However, you can get high response rate if you are brief, respectful and non-spammy.
Like the other media, let the customer make the option regarding e-mail contact. This is often through email subscription, with an easy-to-unsubscribe feature.
Your business e-mail needs to have a link whereby the customer can easily update profile: change of email, home address, phone number, or product interest. There are softwares that help to manage such email features.
What else to do on emails to customers? Send relevant success stories, blog posts, newsletters, product updates, webinars etc.
When it comes to Customers, Siam Kidd says, “You need to under-promise and over-deliver”. For example: “Your $40 dollars worth laundry will be delivered to you after 3 days”. It actually gets delivered for $30 in 2 days. You add a nice thank you message of patronage.
The best returns from customers service is where the customer is satisfied enough to go tell someone else about your service or product and is willing to come back; with increase in sales, of course.
We see that there is work to be done, but, gladly too.
“Applied knowledge is power”, so let’s go for it! Cheers!
- Linda Ellah