As some of you may know, last week I went away on a family vacation, a Caribbean cruise to be exact. The trip was fantastic. It's just what I needed, a week of relaxation and a chance to disconnect from work, technology, and the outside world.
Anyone who’s been on a cruise before knows that the cruise experience is all about customer service, from the attendants who clean your room and turn down your bed, to the wait staff and entertainers who make it their job to delight you in every way.
Having been pampered and indulged for a week, I thought I would share 15 customer service tips that can be applied to your business and help make it rock!
1. Service with a Smile
I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a store and not been acknowledged, let alone received a smile and warm greeting. Not on cruise ships, everyone on board is trained to greet you with a smile and a warm greeting. It was so nice to wake up every morning, leave our room and have our room attendant smile and wish us a good day. Integrate this into your business, whether it means smiling at events and meetings or when you’re chatting on a phone call.
With the busy society that we live in, it seems that people have forgotten about manners and etiquette. It was so nice to be in an environment where people were so courteous and polite. The little things really matter, remember to consistently use please, thank you and you’re welcome.
3. Actively Listen
Have you ever purchased something and been dissatisfied? What generally makes the situation better is listening. By actively listening to the customer you can learn how to solve the problem and make them feel valued. It cost nothing to listen openly and objectively and in the end, you’ll earn respect and repeat customers.
Customers can be demanding, difficult and hard to please. But if you take the time to listen to them and put yourself in their shoes, you can probably empathize and deal with the situation compassionately. I know because I have been that customer before. When I purchased my wedding dress, I thought it was white in the store, but when I brought it home it turned out to be grayish white — not what I wanted. Of course, on wedding dresses there are no returns — but after I spoke with the store owner she allowed me to exchange the dress for another dress, thank goodness! You can bet that I spoke highly of that store after her kindness and flexibility.
5. Offer a Sample
While our ship was docked in Mexico, we decided to check out some different tequilas. The store clerk was not only helpful, but she offered us samples of all of the different brands we were interested in. We didn’t immediately purchase anything, but on our way back to the ship we did make a purchase. We probably wouldn’t have purchased anything had we not been able to try them out first.
6. Own Up to Mistakes
We are all human and we all make mistakes. So if you make one, own up to it, then rectify the situation. Nothing is worse than defending yourself against someone else’s mistake.
7. Be Genuine
While we were at the airport our flight was delayed. During this time we dealt with numerous airline reps trying to alleviate the issue. We had one woman, who was so sugary sweet and fake with her concern and it definitely showed through. Be yourself, be kind and compassionate, but lose the high voice and fancy rhetoric, people can spot a fake a mile away, not to mention it turns people off.
8. Great Memory
Along with our service with a smile, the staff that regularly interacted with us greeted us by name. People like to be noticed and remembered, it makes them feel special. Get good at remembering your customer’s names and little things about them; you’ll create a long-lasting positive impression.
9. Go the Extra Mile
Every night at dinner our waiter would get my four-year-old's food out first, but not only this, but he would also cut her noodles up for her, then deliver her dessert promptly when she was finished with her meal. This not only made her feel like a princess, but it allowed us to leisurely enjoy our dinner without a child screaming, “I’m hungry!”. How can you go the extra mile in your business?
10. Offer Solutions and Options
Have you ever been stranded in an airport due to weather or mechanical failure? Nothing is worse than being stranded without any solutions in sight. Make yourself your customers guide by offering helpful solutions and options that will put their mind at ease.
11. Be Helpful
This is such an easy one, yet it is so often overlooked. Be there for your customers to answer questions, lend assistance or guide them when needed. People appreciate when people take the time to help them.
I loved how friendly people were on the cruise ship, it made us feel so pleasant and at ease. Start with smiles and hellos and move on to showing genuine interest in people’s lives. Be friendly in person, on phone calls, emails and on the social networks.
13. Be Creative
One night at dinner, the maitre d' came over and folded my daughter’s menu into an adorable origami bird. This delighted our daughter and kept her busy, which meant that we were able to enjoy a few extra minutes sipping our coffee and eating our dessert. How can you be creative with your customer service in your business?
14. Added Value
Every night on the ship our room attendant would tidy up our room and turn down our beds. With this, there would be three tiny chocolates placed on our bed along with a different sort of folded towel animal each night. It was such an enjoyable way to end the day and our daughter loved seeing what new animal was going to be in our room. And when you have a happy kid you have happy parents. Find ways to give added value in your business.
15. Clear Communication
Every night we would receive the Princess Patter, a little “newspaper” of the next day’s events and happenings. Then important announcements were made over the overhead loudspeakers for all to hear. These were great ways to keep travelers informed, and passengers always knew what to expect. Keep the lines of communication open and clear with your customers, inform them of changes and price increases. People in general, like to be in the know-how.
By remembering the small details and making conscious decisions to make customer service a priority, you can rock your business with increased sales, customers, positive testimonials, and word of mouth marketing!
What tips do you have for good customer service? How have you found ways to add value and be creative?
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Holly Reisem Hanna is the publisher and founder of The Work at Home Woman, which has been helping individuals find remote careers and businesses that feed their souls since 2009. Through her unconventional career path of holding over 30 jobs and obtaining two college degrees, she's been able to figure out how to find a career path that you're truly passionate about. Holly's had the pleasure of sharing her expertise on sites like CNN, MSN Money, Huffington Post, Woman’s Day Magazine, as well as being recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 100 Websites for Your Career.” Holly resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and daughter and enjoys reading, traveling, and yoga.