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Customer Service -- A Lost Art?

Craig Binkley -- Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, customer service may be THE most important aspect of the business plan. In fact, many people are willing to pay a little more for a product or service in order to receive excellent customer care.

Is customer service a lost art? Before you answer that question, take a moment and think about the last few times you have gone shopping or out to dinner.

Okay, now that you have really thought about it, is your answer any different? Why is it that when we actually DO receive excellent customer service that it makes such an impression on us that we usually choose to go back? Why -- because the occurrences are so few and far between!!!

As a home business owner, it is imperative to my business that customer service is ALWAYS a top priority. Remember the saying: "If you don't take care of your customer, somebody else will." I'm sure you have read or heard it somewhere before...and how true it is.

Here are a few ways to improve customer service at your business:

1) Smile.

Sounds too simple, right? As a customer, would you prefer to be serviced by a smiling face, or a scowl that would befit a guard dog?

2) Listen.

Always be slow to speak and quick to listen. Let customers express themselves without you trying to do it for them. Nobody likes being interrupted.

3) Don't be too pushy.

Yeah, I know -- the bottom line is sales, right? There is a fine line between suggesting products/services and pushing them down a customer's throat. If you are too pushy, your customer will probably walk away and take their business elsewhere.

4) Phone etiquette.

Whether you are answering or initiating a call, always remember who the customer is. Be polite. Try "Yes sir/ma'am" instead of "yeah" and "nope". If you don't have an answer for your customer, offer to do some research to find what they are inquiring about.

5) Thank you.

ALWAYS thank your customers. Even if you could not help them or they decided not to purchase from you. Leave them with a positive impression of your business before they leave.

6) Training.

Train your employees. Don't let an untrained employee ruin your track record of excellent customer service. Train your employees on-the-job for as long as necessary to teach them good customer service.

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31

In conclusion: Customer service may be THE most important aspect of your business plan. I know of many people who are willing to pay a little more for a product or service in order receive excellent customer care. Price, advertising, and location are all vital to a business -- but whatever you do, don't overlook the all-important "Good Customer Service".

Craig is a husband, father, and home business owner assisting in the restoration of the "traditional" family through home business ownership.

© 2006 Craig Binkley

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