People can make or break your small business.  Offering excellent customer service can distinguish you from the competition, result in increased sales and a more loyal clientele.  Therefore, teaching employees how to treat customers right should become part of your initial and ongoing training.  It should be reinforced daily.

Below are four tips you can incorporate into your training to minimize customer complaints:

1.  Do not put phone calls ahead of on-site customers.

This is one of my particular pet peeves.  One of my preferred take-out joints has a bad habit of taking phone orders over those standing in line with money in hand.  There is nothing worse than waiting in a long line, getting to the front and having the phone ring.  Instead of taking customer orders, the employee decides the phone is more important than those waiting in line. This is a big no-no.

Actual people who visit your business in person are almost always more important than callers.  Make sure your employees know that and are taught to treat actual customers with the respect they deserve.

2. Make exceptions when appropriate.

Sometimes you have to bend policy and make an exception.  The customer will remember it and your business will benefit from it.

3. Say “Thank You.”

These two simple words can go a long way in customer satisfaction.  And, if you really want to have a loyal fan, provide your customers with special discounts or advance notice of new products and services.  Simple ways of showing thanks and appreciation can go far toward leaving your customers with a good impression of your business.

4.  Ask for feedback.

You provide feedback to your staff (if not, you should), why not receive some from your customers.  Feedback from your customers is one of the most valuable things your business can get.  After all, dissatisfied customers will typically stop patronizing your business if their problem is not solved quickly and satisfactorily.  They also spread the word to at least nine people (or even hundreds online) about their bad experience.  Talk about a buzz killer…

When you get a complaint, ask the customer how they would like to have the problem resolved, and make every effort to do so.  If they want a refund, it’s usually best to honor their request.  If an employee is involved in a dispute, trace the problem and provide the employee with training, if necessary.  But, if you are convinced that your business is not at fault, apologize, offer something to placate the customer, and explain how they can avoid similar situations in the future.

Even when following these tips, sometimes you just get an unreasonable customer.  In this scenario, you may just have to part ways and decide not do business with them.  Although it may not feel good at the time, refusing to do business with an unreasonable client may end up with unexpectedly positive results.  You may attract a higher quality customer or signal that you have standards and morals that are worth more than money.

What are some of your customer service policies?

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