Best Practices for Keeping Your Customers Happy

Image courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archive's photostream

Image courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archive’s photostream

Have you ever had a restaurant experience where things went wrong? The appetizer was overcooked, your steak was still mooing and your server was downright rude. Because of these disasters at the table, a manager comes out and cleans up the mess to remedy the situation. I wore the shoes of a restaurant manager in a fine dining, privately owned restaurant for years and know this situation all too well. Things go wrong, mistakes happen and those incidents can’t be avoided. They are a part of the job almost on a daily basis. The same thing can be said in any industry. The customer service provided after a problem can make or break your relationship and alter future sales with that client. The old saying, “The Customer is Always Right” is a hard pill to swallow for most of us on the opposite side.

Here are some pointers on how to keep your customers and clients happy before and after disasters strike.

Quick Actions Speak Louder Than Lots of Words – Once the dessert splatters onto the floor, I am not going to stand at the table of my guests, apologize and beg for forgiveness. I am going to make them a new dessert, as fast as humanly possible. Apologizing will only get you so far, as opposed to action. Acknowledge the problem and FIX the problem. Excuses will definitely not help and explanations will only temporarily soothe a situation. Going into descriptive detail as to how 100 golf balls have the wrong logo on them will not fix the problem; reordering and putting a rush on shipping will.

Give Again and Keep the Money – In my experience with customer service you don’t always have to refund money or give a credit to your customer. Always try to placate with products first. Whether it be replacing the problem, or giving additional items to ease the situation, that will always be cheaper than refunding money. You can get creative with the physical items and set a precedent for future mishaps. If this option doesn’t soothe your client, then try giving a discount for future purchases. This tactic gives your client a reason to do return business and gives you a second chance.

Anticipate Needs and Wants – One of the best things you can do for your customers is anticipate their needs before they ask. What a great perk when your restaurant server brings you a piping hot basket of bread with soft butter because he knew you would love a piece with your salad. Don’t eat bread? At least he was thinking ahead, trying to anticipate your needs and not waiting to respond. In any industry, you should be tracking your clients’ moves and purchases. Watch for trends of sales and be in constant communication with one another. Armed with information, you can call ahead and ask a client if they are ready to order this month’s purchases. Anticipating their needs will show that you are paying attention and that they are not just another number. Don’t wait around for the sale, go get it!

Good Service, Bad Product – Excellent customer service can outshine any bad previous experience. Your meal wasn’t even that great, yet you keep coming back to that same restaurant to see your favorite waitress. Why? Her service is the best. Make your customer service better than everyone else in your industry and you will see return business. Clients will commit to you even through the tough times and mistakes, because we are human and setbacks and calamities will occur.

Practicing these customer service tips will hopefully help soothe your clients when needed and make sure that mistakes won’t cost you their business. See if your favorite restaurant practices any of these words of advice as well. Perhaps that’s why they are your favorite after all!

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