4 Rules for Good Customer Service

Customer service can vary significantly, especially in a social media world where firms have more customer touchpoints. On my recent trip, I learned that customer service means truly listening to your customers and appreciating that they know what they want. These aren’t empty words. You must walk the talk with every customer interaction.

Here are four rules for good customer service.

  1. Know who your customers are and aren’t. We stayed at a small, top-rated B&B close to the Gulf of Mexico. The owner knew his target audience was eco-friendly couples looking for a quiet place to get away. His guests happily trade more commercial hotel services for the low-keyed, laissez-faire environment. Instead of overly manicured grounds, there was a natural, overgrown sense to the trees, plants and lagoon that wound around the property. In addition to beach towels, guests could use a variety of beach toys and tools at the secluded beach. The rooms were well equipped including free wifi (my personal favorite!). As the owner confided, when a prospect sounds young, I probe. If they’re students looking for parties, I suggest they’d be happier elsewhere. As for us, we enjoyed our stay and plan to return.
  2. Make your customers feel at home. The local breakfast restaurant greeted guests with a cheery Good Morning ma’am and old-fashioned manners (a welcome surprise for jaded New Yorkers). Regardless of the size, composition or age of your group, the staff was accommodating and happy to be of assistance. When we went back for their diverse breakfast menu and good food, the server remembered us!
  3. Go the extra mile to please your customers. Our first night, we selected a local restaurant with a good reputation. Tired from our early flight, we just wanted to eat and crash. Not realizing that this establishment specialized in large parties, the hostess informed us that there’d be a fifteen to twenty minute wait. At the end of fifteen minutes, lack of sleep was stronger than the need to eat. Since we were ready to leave without eating, the hostess jumped into action and found us a small table so that we wouldn’t go away disappointed. In her words, it was important that we have a positive experience our first night on vacation!
  4. Engage with your customers, the old fashioned way. We had ice cream at a fun, family owned, homemade ice cream shop. Unlike your conventional ice cream store, this shop offered small, medium and large sizes but the precise number of scoops per size wasn’t stated. While the shop made one of National Geographic’s top ten lists in one of its travel guides for its ice cream, the standout element was the fact that one of the employees hung out on the porch talking to the customers about life and the local sites. To be clear, this employee wasn’t on their break! It was a live version of social media engagement.

When it comes to customer facing businesses, the marketing lesson is that every engagement is an opportunity to win your customer’s loyalty. The better job you do, the more likely they are to come back.

Do you have any other suggestions for good customer service that you’d add to this list? If so, what are they?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: teamstickergiant via Flickr

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