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Customer Service Tips: What Do Your Customers Really Want?
You know how it feels to hang out with your best friend? Pretty nice. My friend Sara knows me warts and all. I let Sara in whether I feel repulsively needy or shamelessly fabulous. In Sara's presence, my self-regard (or lack thereof) melts like butter in sunshine. And what does Sara get? My undying loyalty, for one thing. Overflowing gratitude, for another. And all the permission she can stand to be her sweet self-irrespective of the state of her own self-esteem.
Paradoxically, she gets the best of me precisely because I don't hide the worst.
What Does This Friendship Have To Do With Good Customer Service?
How Is Your "Just Right" Customer Like A Best Friend?
Like a best friend, your just-right customer wants what you do the way you do it, not what you think you need to do it to compete. They want you to be authentic and clear so that what you advertise is what they get.
Like a best friend, your just-right customer wants to know you care and that you can be counted on. Serving your customers well doesn't mean meeting their every need. It does mean your customers can feel secure in the knowledge that what you offer is what you truly want to share.
And like a best friend, your just-right customer deserves access whether or not you happen to be operating at the peak of self-esteem.
Just as a friend may rightfully resent being pushed away when you feel "less than," your just-right customers are ill-served when you withdraw just because your self-esteem has bottomed out.
It's natural to retreat when you feel low or inadequate, but it's unfair to do it to a customer. How can you serve your customer and make good on your offers if you're hiding out with your old bad self, replaying your most embarrassing moments and screening action features based on your greatest fears?
You may feel that hiding out is more ethical than promoting your work when you are full of self-doubt -- but can you be sure? Is holding back for fear of being less than perfect really an act of integrity and good customer service?
When you place your self-esteem between you and a customer, you're like a teenager that leaves her date out in the cold while she agonises over a blemish. A customer deserves service grounded in reality, not in the equivalent of a Harlequin romance.
If you're serious about growing your business, find ways to show up and serve as you really are. For tips on how to do this (because, after all, there is a difference between customer service and friendship), read 5 Things Customers Want and How to Deliver Them.
Five Things Customers Want
- To know how your service can make their life better. What problems can be solved, dissolved, or removed by working with you
- To be able learn more about your service and what it takes to work with you without jumping through lots of hoops.
- To know you and your services are a good fit.
- To take a test drive without fearing the hard sell.
- To compensate you for the services you deliver so they needn't feel obliged and they can feel good about asking for more.
How To Deliver Them, Or What Makes Good Customer Service?
Be up front, even bold, in stating how your goods or services make things better for your customers so that they can make a decision about whether to ask for more information. This respects their time and attention by answering the question, "What can you do for me?"
Be clear about what it takes for you to deliver consistent value.
How much time? How much money? How much energy? What kind of commitment? What support? What resources? What else?
When you know what you need in order to deliver good customer service, set your prices, policies, and procedures accordingly and make it easy for your customers to understand them.
Show up in your business. Use language, imagery, colours that are consistent with the way you naturally serve your customers. Are you a funny, organised, motherly midwife? Or a charming, blunt career coach? It's almost certain that lots of people do what you do and do it as well or better. However, it is highly unlikely that anyone else relates to their customers and serves them quite like you do. Make it easy for prospective customers to tell how well you're likely to fit.
Offer a test drive. If you sell products, give samples. If you sell services, give samples. What does that look like? An eight-page special report, a newsletter, reprints of articles, audio of speeches or seminars. Keep your eyes and ears and mind open, and your samples may add up to a product and a new income stream.
Make it easy for clients and customers to pay for your work. When your just-right customer pays for a service, they are making a conscious commitment to getting their money's worth. This makes it a lot more likely that they will do what it takes to benefit from what you offer.
Far from requiring you to be someone you are not, excellent customer services requires you to be yourself. Being yourself with your customers means charging enough for you to get your own needs met so that you can deliver service reliably and graciously.
This article was contributed by Molly Gordon
Molly Gordon is a renowned business coach and an acknowledged specialist in niche marketing.
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