First Byte: First Bytes are 1-2 minute summaries and suggestions that tie directly to a specific blog post. I'm hoping they're helpful in expanding the topic of the post itself.
Reading her five, I couldn't help but feel I found exactly what I needed, but I want to put it into perspective for your business, especially as a photographer.
- "Please go to our website!" - Your website should be about your services and what you sell, but instead many of you are managing by the exception and have filled your site with policies. In fact, I've been on a few that were written with all the finesse of an IRS audit, with material about cancellation and refund policies. Save those topics for the contract discussion and utilize your site to show your best qualities as an artist.
- "I'll have to transfer you." - Take responsibility for the answers your customers are looking for. Even more important, train and give your staff the authority to make decisions. There's nothing wrong with saying to a customer, "I'm sorry I don't know the answer, but let me have _____________ call you back in just a few minutes." Customers know it's not a perfect world and they can accept mistakes. What they can't accept is feeling like they're not important.
- "That's not our policy." - Rules for any business are important, but there are times when circumstances warrant a modification. If you're looking for everything to be black or white, your business sense has you doomed. You've got to be able to define the gray areas and find solutions, not fall back on a statement blaming "policy". If that's your only way to do business, then you're going to be far more successful working for Comcast!
- "Sorry, there's nothing I can do." - Whoa, that's the end of the road, because right after you make this comment, the customer decides to not only NEVER work with you again, but to tell their friends about you. In my book, there's no bigger statement that defines you as a jackass. The truth is, there's ALWAYS something you can do.
- "Hmm, I don't know." - It's not the fact that you don't have an answer, but the interpretation of the statement itself. It's like a surgeon saying "Oops!" on the operating table. You're expected to be the expert and if you're going admit to not knowing the answer, then you need to temper that statement with a few more comments about getting a better answer, looking into it further and giving the customer a sense of commitment, rather than just shrugging your shoulders and walking away.
Here's the thing about Customer Service - it's about your attitude. It's not a department that's part of a corporation. It's meant to be the very foundation of everything you believe in business and about your customers. Great Customer Service is about making yourself habit-forming, so that every client feels like they're your most important customer.