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Top 10 customer service tips

1. Hire people who have a service attitude. Some people simply enjoy serving others, their organizations, and even their communities. The spirit of service dominates their personality. This attitude of service has nothing to do with money or background, and people who have this attitude are not necessarily the most outgoing or bubbly. This type of person will move your business forward. These people make the best salespeople as well.

2. Make the customer's time with you an experience. You have but a few short moments with customers. You don't have time to complain about your day or anything else. Ask yourself, "How can I make their experience better?" Can I refer to them by name and how can I ask without being too aggressive? How can I control the environment in this company? How am I affecting their 5 senses? Exceed their expectations just a little with their senses and with your attitude to serve and please, and you will have created a memorable and compelling experience. Of course, all you really have to do is visit your competition, see what they are doing and then top them. But would that be cheating? No, that's comparative shopping.

3. Regularly inform all your employees about what's going on in your company. Employees need to know what's happening. What new products are you offering? When will they be available? What kind of advertising will take place in the next month? Will any physical changes be happening in your offices? Will new branches be add? The more they know, the better they can serve your customers.

4. Make every decision with the customer in mind. Ask yourself questions such as, "Do our customers like what we're doing?" and "Would our customers like this type of promotion?" Change the way you look at things from having it centered around you to focused on whether the customer would approve.

5. Make the customers an agenda item at every staff meeting. Present their point of view and ask these questions: What would the customer think of this? Would this move be fair to them? How can we serve our customers better or differently?

6. Empower your employees to do the right thing. And don't hold it against them if the situation doesn't turn out perfectly. That means giving employees the power to do whatever has to be done to make a customer's experience a WOW experience. They will make mistakes, but each time they will learn ? with your help.

7. Continually ask yourself how you can improve and add value. If you don't keep asking and pushing yourself, you'll start to slip behind the competition. Customers have more than one choice and your competition is aggressively marketing to them. They know what is being offered by others. Be ahead of the curve by asking what you can do to add value to your customer's experience with you.

8. Create an atmosphere of excellence. Let it be known that everything you and your employees do has to be the best, and you won't accept less. Remember that winning organizations are always raising the bar. If you aren't pushing to do better than yesterday, you will be left in the dust of your competition.

9. Continually do the unexpected. Have the reputation for doing the unexpected, and customers will always expect something different and exciting from your company. This doesn't mean that you have to have dancing clowns in your lobby, but having the same lollipops that everyone else gives out is not at all unexpected. Do something different. These are the things that customers talk about.

10. Never let an untrained employee have customer contact. Your employees represent you, your company, and your brand. Working with customers is the most important thing they will do. Give them the tools necessary by giving them adequate training to handle customers.

Margo Chevers, author of the book STOP the BS (bad service), has been providing sales and customer service seminars and consulting to a diverse cross-section of industries for the past 15 years. To receive her free 10 top tips for exceptional customer service, call (800) 858-0797 or email margo@margochevers.com.

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