This past October our family traveled to Blue Eye, Missouri (a small town of 150 residents), to visit with my husband’s side of the family. The first night we were there we decided to eat at the local Mexican restaurant; being from Texas where Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen, I wasn’t expecting much from the food, but I did expect courteous service and some small-town charm.
We were told to grab a seat, which was the norm for this establishment. I looked over the menu and decided on some chicken flautas; I picked this dish because I was craving something crunchy and it came with guacamole – my favorite! Our waitress soon brought the food out but mentioned to me that the kitchen had messed up on my order and instead made me chicken fajitas. She went on to say, that if I accepted the chicken fajitas, they would charge me the price for the flautas, but they would give the “more expensive” dish.
I didn’t really want the fajitas, but to be accommodating I accepted them. I first noticed that the fajitas didn’t have any guacamole, so I politely asked the waitress to bring me some. She nonchalantly said, “We don’t have any.” I was not happy about this revelation, I didn’t want fajitas in the first place, and now I had to eat them without guacamole. Okay, fine I wasn’t going to let this ruin my dinner. I opened up the package of tortillas to make my first fajita only to find that they had been cut into teeny, tiny triangles — not well suited for making tacos.
I summoned the waitress to ask her for some regular-sized, round tortillas. But once again, I got the response, “We don’t have any.” I wanted to say, “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!” But I politely said, “Okay.” While we were eating our lackluster meal, the waitress started to put chairs up on tables signaling that she was ready to get out of there. The funny thing was the restaurant didn’t close for another two hours! We left the restaurant in disbelief; our waitress never apologized for the incorrect food order, lack of tortillas, or guacamole, in fact, she was rather bothered by us even coming in there to eat.
The next day my mother-in-law had an open house for all the relatives to visit us, and with her four living siblings, their spouses, children, and grandchildren that’s a ton of people! So when people asked what we had done so far, each and every one of them got a recap of our dining experience at the small Mexican restaurant. In PR (public relations) this is what you call third-party credibility or in this case bad word of mouth. As you can imagine this story was probably told a few more times, and for a small restaurant in a town of only 150, this is not good for your business.
What is the lesson of the story?
When you run a home-based business, whether you’re a virtual assistant or you make tutus for little girls, people will always come back for good customer service! Take the example above had the waitress been friendly, apologetic, accommodating and pleasant; even though our food was not what we ordered; we undoubtedly would have gone back. But since we received such poor customer service we will never return.
So how do you treat your customers right?
Here are five customer service rules to get you started.
Listening to what your customer wants and needs is a huge key to customer service success. By listening to what your customer has to say you can alleviate stress and find solutions to any challenges.
2. Fix the problem
Whether it’s a wrong food order or a mistake on a document you sent out, the problem needs to be addressed and mended. Offer a complimentary appetizer, a free dessert, remake the order, and make the customer feel like you’re trying to help them.
3. Offer assistance
On the same road trip to Missouri, we stopped at the local pharmacy to get a coloring book for my daughter. They didn’t have any, but the sales clerk was kind enough to rummage in the back and find an old one that was left by her nephew. My daughter was thrilled, and you can bet we told people how kind and generous this clerk was to us.
4. Be attentive
Whether is answering the phone, email, or snail mail. Be attentive to your customer’s needs. How many times have you emailed a company and never received a response? It’s so frustrating! I love it when I get a prompt response from a company and even better yet is when I ask a question on Twitter, and I get a tweet immediately from the company – now that’s attentive!
5. Spoil your customer
Go the extra mile and do something special for your customer. Our local grocery store, HEB, has this down to a T. They have free cookies for the kids to keep them occupied while shopping; upon checkout, kids get a free balloon and Buddy Buck which allows them to play the crane game for free. Whether it’s complimentary gift wrapping, a handwritten thank you card or a free goodie; people remember these niceties and they will return!
When thinking about customer service in your home-based business, remember to have the right attitude, enthusiasm, and commitment. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Spending a little extra money upfront will only increase your revenue in the long term.
Need more tips for increasing business with good customer service? Check out these articles for help!