We know from all the market research we do for our clients at B2B International that customer service is often the key differentiator. These days product quality and price are often seen as ‘hygiene factors’ and so you wouldn’t be in the game if you weren’t delivering on these areas. We always like to practice what we preach and so let us know if you contact our offices and we are not responsive enough to your needs.
Response to customer enquiries is crucial to success. Get it right and punters are likely to keep coming back to you. Get it wrong and they will go elsewhere. So how do you go about it?
It has been estimated that poor response to customer enquiries loses an average small business in the UK four customers each year – thought to amount to some £16,000 in profit.
Most enquiries are requests for information about products or services. People initially ring up to enquire, not to buy, and your call might be one of several they make to different businesses. How you respond is vital because the caller will compare you to others they contact.
So how can you distinguish yourself from competitors? “A swift response is always impressive, but so is correctly establishing what the caller actually wants, and why. Listen to what they are asking and don’t be afraid to ask them questions.”
Your demeanour on the phone is also important. The caller expects you to be knowledgeable about your product or service but also wants you to be approachable. People appreciate a personal service. Follow up on what you say you’ll do and keep in touch to provide regular updates.
Even at this early stage you should aim to exceed expectation. If possible, improve on the timescale you’ve set. If you’ve said you’ll respond with more information within 24 hours, answer more quickly. When you do, show the caller you’ve understood their needs.
Slow, vague or stock responses to customer enquiries will lose you business. It reflects badly on your business. If you can’t answer questions or don’t get back when you say you will, you’re not showing an eagerness to meet that person’s needs.
Even small firms are in a great position to compete with larger companies on customer service. They usually have the flexibility to go the extra mile to make customers and potential customers feel valued. Make the most of the personal service you can offer and you’ll reap the rewards.