Joe left a message with a store about an order he had placed a month ago. "Hey, I hate to bother you, but are there any updates on my order?"
These words may seem pretty innocuous. However, they include the five little words that could really hurt your bottom-line. Anytime your customer initiates a call, email or text AFTER the promised delivery time, and ask one of these questions:
"Is my _________________ready yet? Or "Any updates about my_____________?" you may have damaged your relationship with that customer.
By not keeping your customer up-to-date on the progress of their order or service, you are telling them that they are not a priority to you. This may not be the case and not the message that you mean to convey, but it may be what it is understood by your customer.
Granted, if your response is "Yes, Joe, I was just about to give you a call. Your _________ is ready." you may stem the bleeding. But if you say, "Oh, let me check… No, we haven't gotten to your_________. Boy, have we been swamped today," you are adding insult to injury.
Think about it from your customers' perspective. They are busy people already inconvenienced by the wait for their _____________. If they feel the need to call you, you have compounded that inconvenience. They are worried about when they can get their ______________, AND now they had to take time from their day to check on it. From your customers' perspective your lack of consideration has just added more cost to the bill.
You probably know that for customers to continue to do business with you, value has to exceed price. By respecting your customers' expectations regarding time commitments you are taking a step toward building value for them in doing business with you.
Examine how much consideration you demonstrate for your customers' time and convenience. Managing expectations and good communication are two big factors that show respect for your customer and are a major part of your effort to keep them coming back. You can fix this customer service issue easily.
Maybe you didn't promise your customer a specific time, so you might think that you're not being held to one. Unfortunately, this is not true. When the customer gives you their order they are creating a promised delivery time in their own mind. Unfortunately, you have no idea what that time is, and so you are much more likely to be unable to meet that unspoken expectation.
Start to manage your customer's expectations by providing a specific date and time. Tell them EXACTLY when they will hear from you. Even if the work hasn't been completed, simply keeping that promise will build trust.
Call your customer BEFORE they call you. Your promised time is just that… a PROMISE.
In your customers' mind, you have broken that promise when you haven't called them. When you can't meet your promised time, make the first call. Give the customer an honest reason for the delay and make sure you provide an updated completion time.
If the delay is caused because you are providing extra care and service, be sure to let your customer know.
You are the face of your business and need to let your customers know that they are not just dollar signs or numbers—they are real people with busy lives—who you respect. Simply by communicating and keeping your promises, you will boost the likelihood of their coming back time and again. Loyal customers make your business.
Laurie Brown, CSP works with organizations that want to use compelling communication skills to influence and persuade. Click here for more information on customer service workshops.