Just Sayin' - Customer Service During COVID-19
Customer Service During COVID-19
For my first column in our COVID era, I want to start by thanking all the essential businesses who have kept their doors open, kept their employees working, and kept parts of our economy moving forward. To all the grocery store clerks and stockers, car mechanics, and restaurants offering take our and delivery, to our health care workers and police, fire and other first responders, please accept our sincerest gratitude for the important jobs you do every day. Thank you to everyone who made changes to their operations to better navigate social distancing.
One of the most important lessons we’ve learned over the past few months is just how much our customers mean to us. In this article, I want to focus this column on how to provide exceptional customer service, even during a pandemic. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years along with a few that have come recently.
It’s all about relationships. Business has always had person-to-person relationships at its core. One of the most important lessons we try to impart to our new franchises is that customer service is the single most important factor to success. Why? Because caring for the customer is something that everyone must attend to every single day, and a customer who receives great customer service will leave you reviews, be a repeat customer, and give you great word-of-mouth advertising.
Make it easy to do business with you. Today’s marketplace is full of cost- and time-saving tips and tools for both businesses and customers, so take advantage. Be organized in your thoughts via email or social media. Keep your in-person customer area organized and tidy. Have a toll-free phone number for out of area callers. Write your contracts in plain English to make them easy to read and understand. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope or website link for customer surveys. Make sure your website is up to date, has key contact information front and center, and loads quickly on all devices—this includes laptops, desktops, mobile phones and tablets! You never know what platform your customer is using to reach you.
Greet customers with a smile. It costs nothing to be pleasant and you can do that both over the phone or from behind a mask at a safe social distance. A genuine, friendly greeting shows customers that you’re happy they’re there and that you’re excited to provide exceptional service.
Be honest. Nothing will spoil a relationship faster than getting the runaround or being lied to. Never promise something you can’t deliver and never make up an answer if you don’t know what the answer really is. If something is out of stock, apologize and suggest an alternative. If shipping is taking longer than usual because of social distancing, be up front about it. When you tell customers that you’ll call them by a certain day or time, do it, even if you have nothing to report. No one likes to be left hanging, and it might make your customer look elsewhere.
Be flexible. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be using video conferencing like we use email, I’d have laughed. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few months, it’s that anything can happen! Your day will not always go as planned, especially with these new safety measures. Be open to trying new methods and learn new things. You never know where the next brilliant idea will come from or if that skill will come in handy down the road.
Be thankful. Express heartfelt appreciation for your customers’ patronage. Be gracious, and not just because they bought something from you. Showing thanks is often the difference between a return customer and a one-time sale. The initial contact and end of the interaction leave the biggest impressions, so make sure to end on a high note.
Take care of yourself. Rest equals recharging your creativity and energy. That doesn’t just mean getting a good night’s sleep – it also means taking time to relax and play. When I learned that this isn’t “wasting” time, I found myself with more energy and ideas and interest in my work. That also means when you’re sick, stay at home and rest, too. In the time of coronavirus, keeping ourselves healthy is more important than ever.
Giving peace of mind with excellent customer service can make the difference between surviving and thriving in this competitive marketplace, whether you’re an essential business or not. And it will have customers returning to you once they can. Just sayin’.
about the author
Sharon Dillard is the award winning CEO & Co-founder of Get A Grip Inc., a national franchise and bathroom resurfacing company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information call, click, or visit:
call 505.268.0929 ≈ office & showroom: 8905 Adams Street NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113 ≈ email: firstname.lastname@example.org ≈ blog: sharonjustsayin.com ≈ website: getag