Monday, October 3, 2011

Customer Service

Personal, friendly, go-the-extra-mile customer service is the secret weapon of successful small businesses. But you'd never know it by visiting stores populated by surly, unconcerned staff, whose standard response to inquiries seems to be "the shrug," combined with "the mystified look."

"Huh? Why can't you just leave me alone, dude!?"

So it was a pleasant surprise to get timely, helpful and friendly service last weekend at a new camera and photo shop I ventured into to have some old photos copied. 

The staffer noticed me walk in and approached me immediately with a smile. She helped me scan my photos, cropping and improving the quality for me, and then apologized that it would take her 10 minutes to get the prints done.

No problem! The finished products were beautiful, done in no time and cost less than $10. The staffer also pointed out the store's holiday specials (bring in a shoebox of old prints and get them transferred onto a CD for $39.99) in a manner that was informative, but low-pressure.

I'll definitely be going back and may even take them up on their special offer. What a great holiday gift for that relative who is tough to buy for!

Every small business owner should have employees so engaged and positive. "A company's frontline associates can be an organization's best competitive advantage and the 'secret' to securing repeat business," says Richard Shapiro, author of the forthcoming book, "The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business" (Feb 2012).

Take a look at Shapiro's Top 10 Tips for repeat business after the jump...

1. Make sure that every one of your frontline associates is capable of making a good first impression. First opinions are formed within the first 10 seconds. You never have a second opportunity to make a warm and welcoming first impression.

2. Show appreciation to your customers. Thanking customers in a meaningful and thoughtful manner on every customer/frontline encounter shows customers you care and appreciate their business.
3. Review your letters and email communications to ensure that they sound welcoming, personalized and make your customers feel important and appreciated.
4. Create a culture whereby your associates are treated as family and neighbors and they will, in turn, treat your customers the same way. Customers notice and appreciate when a company appreciates their associates.
5. Answer questions from customers by not only responding to their direct inquiry, but by providing them with additional useful information. Customers often enjoy learning more about a potential purchase than what's written on a tag or in a brochure.
6. Understand that the underlying ingredient of customer service is helping people. Make sure that every frontline associate has a history of helping people. It will almost guarantee a great customer service experience.
7. Say hello and smile. In this era of technology, people are more stressed than ever. Getting a big, warm hello can go a long way in giving a customer the feeling of "Hey, this company is really happy to see me."
8. Leverage the return counter in a retail store environment to make customers feel comfortable about returning an item and offering special attention to help them find what they need. Customers don't like making returns. Make the return process an enjoyable and non-defensive process. Customers will really appreciate it!
9. Listen to customer comments such as "This is the first time I used your site", "I just moved into the neighborhood", "I just happened to stop by," etc. and take those opportunities to engage the customer to build a relationship and lifetime of loyalty.
10. The final piece of advice for guaranteeing repeat business, generating positive social media posts, and making customers feel the company cares, all starts with the first hello in person or over the phone, or the first click of the mouse. A company's frontline associates are the "voice of the company". When you find frontline associates who can make every customer feel welcomed and important, make sure you continually thank those special folks and reward them appropriately.


  1. All that we are is the consequence of what we have estimation. Wait… Has anyone exhorted dissertation to you. Keep the articles progressing !

  2. Okay, thanks (I think), Plumber. ;-)