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Stop Making These Three Customer-Service Mistakes

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Businesses value few things more than happy customers. Pleased clients come back for more. They tell their family and friends about your business. They create new customer opportunities, and we can count on their repeat business for a long time. Who doesn’t want more of that?

To achieve that type of trust with a customer, you must consistently deliver a very high level of customer service. That means not just doing a fantastic job but also avoiding common customer-service slip-ups.

Make sure your business avoids the following mistakes.

Failing to train your staff. Does your company believe in the “baptism by fire” training system? Do you make the mistake of only training for the technical skills required on the job? Customer-service training gives your employees the tools and the confidence to gracefully deal with angry and dissatisfied clients.

Trying to win the argument. Perception is reality. Don't try to win the argument if it means losing the customer. First, apologize for what has displeased the customer. Remember that when we’re angry or disappointed, we want to hear that someone else cares about our feelings. So, acknowledge the customer's feelings first and then seek a solution. The blame game has no place in superb customer service.

Letting technology get in the way. We all love how technology makes us more efficient, but it can also make us more difficult to reach. Be sure that your customers can reach a real person if they have a problem. Pointing an irate customer to your FAQs on the website or sending him into your voice mail loop is only going to frustrate him more. Get the customer to an empathetic human as quickly as possible.

Stellar customer service doesn’t just happen. Avoiding these mistakes is a fine first step on your way to being a customer-service superstar.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Nerd Scared Businessman)

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Drew McLellan's a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating "a ha" moments for his clients, clients' customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.

Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.

Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others.

Drew writes at his own blog, Drew’s Marketing Minute and several other hot spots.

He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books with Gavin Heaton and he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group in 1995.

Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

Shoot Drew an e-mail.

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  • by Patty Held Wed Mar 28, 2012 via blog

    Great suggestions! Training your staff with great customer service skills sets you apart from your competition. Unhappy customers just want you to listen to them. Your systems have to work in order to do business. Thank you!!

  • by Fabrice Meuwissen Wed Mar 28, 2012 via blog

    that's a set of good rules and practices, but in some case, you prefer to loose some customers than loosing your soul. it's including for example not giving away free upgrade just to please a customer.
    It's an art to make such choice, it is about the potential of this customer if he could serve you for a better promotion, and hard decision to face the "fear" to have bad comments from 1 customer. it's ok for me if you are aware of the risk.

  • by Chicago Garage Builder Wed Mar 28, 2012 via blog

    Sometimes you have to take a big step back and the customer is looking to your for help and may not know what to ask for. Look for a solution and don't be afraid to apologize. It may be your fault, it may not be, but you are representing your company so be helpful, there is nothing to get angry about.

  • by Kevin Feldman Wed Mar 28, 2012 via blog

    As important as the three mentioned: If you can't help the customer, refer your customer to someone who can help them. Too many companies leave customers unsatisfied, having the attitude that "if I don't have what they want, I don't want to send them to someone who does." In the film "Miracle on 34th Street" there is a scene where the Macy's Santa Claus refers customers to other stores so they can find the Christmas gifts that they are looking for. Macy's management is furious at the Santa Claus and is about to fire him, when suddenly Macy's customers begin to flood the store with positive comments about the helpfulness of their Santa Claus and pledging their loyalty as a Macy's customer. This is more than fiction. It really works!

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