“Without customers, your [small] business would not exist. It’s that simple. Your business success and longevity depend on acquiring and retaining its target customers. You can’t do so without developing and maintaining a customer-centric mindset.” (Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success ©2015)
In keeping with a customer-centric theme, here are 7 things you should never do when managing external customers:
1. DON’T lose focus on caring about customers.
All it takes is letting one’s guard down once and a company can lose potential business in a heartbeat. Making customers wait unnecessarily, not communicating with them, ignoring them, or being unavailable can contribute to business death. Plus, they won’t be coming back!
2. DON’T respond late – or never.
Whether intended or not, [not responding] sends a strong message that your company doesn’t really want new business; that you must have plenty of customers already. How foolish is that?
If your business is up to its ears in orders or work and you cannot handle new customer requests, don’t ignore the prospects who have shown interest! Show that you care and be honest with them. Tell them how swamped your company is right now, suggest a later date if possible, or refer them to another provider. (Yes, a competitor!)
Prospects will respect your candor and may even refer your company to others. They may also return at a time when your business is slower and you can accommodate them then.
3. DON’T bring your bad mood to work and spread it around like a virus.
Bad idea! Sure, we’re all human. We have bad days, go through crises, suffer from constipation or colds, and have arguments with our significant others. But if you or employees can’t check your problems at the door, you’re not going to do the business any justice.
4. DON’T make promises to customers and then forget about them.
Have you heard the phrase, “Underpromise and overdeliver?” This philosophy is at the core of exceptional customer service and part of any positive brand experience. Want to know how to blow your customers away? Tell them you’ll deliver or send something on Wednesday, and then on Monday, advise them that it’s ready early!
Related Article: Why Good Customer Service Isn’t Enough
Here’s another… when a product has been backordered, substitute an upgraded item and ask the customer if he wants it at the same price. Whatever you do, don’t make promises your company can’t keep. This can erode any credibility it may have earned.
5. DON’T say no to customers or make habitual excuses.
Before you rush to say that a particular product is out of stock or you can’t help because it’s against company policy, stop and think. Offer to investigate for customers and get back to them.
Sometimes, all it takes is asking a coworker or the business owner to discover that you can serve the customer’s needs or request. Smart business people figure out ways to serve customers’ needs, even if it means taking a sidestep or two.
6. DON’T be pushy and aggressive with customers.
The last thing you want to do is scare customers away with aggressive behavior or pushy sales techniques. Whether your customers are on the telephone, present in person, or online, your role is to listen and allow them to take the lead.
Never push products or services on customers. Many will shrink back, get annoyed, or leave. Ask questions and listen to them.
7. DON’T give customers explanations and internal details.
Customers don’t give a hoot about your business’ internal workings and operations. Why would they?
Tell them you’ll check into an issue and get back to them, bend over backwards to accommodate them and retain their patronage, or tell them that you can’t accommodate their request.
There you have it. There’s a lot more of this type of content in my new book, Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most For Small Business Success. Click the link below to see how you can order your copy!