Guest post from Customer Service Representative, Tonya Rodriquez
I joined our team at Thogus Products Company nearly two years ago as a CSR. In my role, I provide B2B customer service for our proprietary line of hose and tube fittings, which are plastic injection molded fixtures such as tees, elbows, and adapters that are used in a multitude of industries, including agriculture, food and beverage, and automotive. The fittings accounts I service range in size from small, home-based businesses, to OEMs and distributors, to large automotive suppliers.
Here at Thogus, some of our Core Values are: Passion, Honesty & Integrity, Dedication, and Mutual Respect. Using these values as a foundation and a guide for the way that I engage my customers builds trust, and helps to foster relationships. A strong relationship with a customer will almost always lead to brand loyalty.
With more than twenty years of experience in the field of Customer Service, in a variety of capacities, including call center, retail, consumer affairs, and account management, I’ve picked up a few nuggets that have proven to be successful when engaging with the lifeline of any business – our valued customer.
1. Being proactive pays off.
I’ve learned that giving a heads-up can make all the difference to my customer. Especially if I happen tom be delivering news that’s not so great. For example, sending an email to inform the customer that their order will be delayed, or that one item on their order will need to be backordered. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, and I’ve often braced myself for a scathing retort, cringing at the sight of the reply email, only to be pleasantly surprised by something along the lines of “That’s fine. Thank you for letting me know.”
Notifying your customer of potential delays or issues, providing them with information such as tracking numbers or copies of paperwork, before they request it, takes some of the pressure off, and makes their lives that much easier. As a result, you will stand out.
2. Small gestures go a long way.
While working in Consumer Affairs for a medical supply company, I would field numerous requests from end users for rubber walker tips. While routine protocol dictated that I refer the consumer to a local authorized dealer to purchase new tips, I would often send the tips out to the customer on our Goodwill account at no-charge. This small gesture that cost the company a mere few dollars at most meant the world to these consumers, most of whom were elderly. I would receive the nicest thank you notes gushing with gratitude.
The holidays and special occasions are another opportunity to let your customer know how much they are valued and appreciated, and it goes a long way in fostering the relationship. Is someone having a baby? Send a basket or a gift card to let them know you’re thinking of them. At Christmas, send customers gift baskets from your favorite local suppliers – cookies, popcorn, chocolate. Who doesn’t love receiving a tasty treat? While the treat will be enjoyable, the thought behind the gesture is invaluable.
3. Empathy is a must.
We need to be able to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes. We are customers too, and we have all been disappointed by an unfortunate set of circumstances when doing business with a company at some point in our lives. Think back to how the customer service associate handled the situation. Did they show compassion and understanding for your predicament? If so, did you feel that they were being sincere, or condescending? Sincerity is key when dealing with an unhappy customer. Make an honest effort to imagine how you would feel in the same situation, and what a CSR could do or say to quell your dissatisfaction. Being sincere in your empathy makes all the difference.
Nowadays, customers have so many choices when selecting goods and services. So much so, that businesses need to find a way to stand out. At our core, we all want to be valued, respected, and to feel that we matter. If you can make your customer feel like this, then I believe your customer will always choose you.