How good is your customer service (Part 1)

This is a hard article for me to write, because it is something that I do badly at.  But the right thing to do is so easy to see. Hopefully I will get better myself by writing about it.

There are two things that you can do to keep your customers coming back. First is to make sure that they know that they're special to you when they make a purchase.  Second is to stay in touch with them after they make a purchase from them.

Think about how much time, money, and work you go through to get a new customer to find you; and then again to buy something from you for the first time.  For larger businesses, this is one of their biggest expenses.  For someone new starting out, this is always the biggest hurdle they need to get over.

It used to always just astound me to see a small business owner take their focus off of their customer.  I would hear someone say "thanks, some again" real fast without paying a lot of attention, and think that they could do so much better.  Then I started doing the same thing.  There are so many things to do with a  business (keeping employees on track, keeping inventory in stock, getting new products for customers, keeping track of finances, and on and on and on), that taking care of a customer starts to seem like a low priority.  

When I get overloaded with too many things to do, I try to get everything done really fast...including servicing my customers.  If I get this way, then I am guessing other people (maybe you) sometimes do too.  Do I look or sound pre-occupied with other things.  Am I rushing someone along too fast. Do I have a genuine smile that comes from inside of me, or am I wanting to get away from my customer to finish something "really important" instead.

So how do you get past this.  As a sometimes failing student, here's two things that I do that work for me. 

First, remind yourself that your customer is a real person with real feelings.  They are just like you and me.  They want to know that they are special to you.  So have some empathy, and act the way that you would want someone else to act with you.

Second, remember what the really important work that you do is.  There are some things that you do that are worth maybe $1. per hour.  There are other things that you do that are probably worth $100. per hour.  You want to spend as much of your time as you can on the most valuable tasks.  How valuable are your customers?  How important is the time and attention that you give to them.  Even more impressive is how much extra time does it take to treat someone really nice instead of "most efficiently".  It only takes a little bit longer to make someone feel special than it does to get them taken care of in the most basic way.

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