Offering strong customer service these days is a critical piece of doing business. As competition continues to rise, presenting the best service possible could be the very thing that makes or breaks a business.  Did you know a whopping 78 percent of consumers "have bailed on a transaction" or walked away from a purchase they intended to make due to a bad customer service experience? [1]

The Internet has globalized many markets and has increased the level of competitors in any given market. If a customer is not happy with the service received, that patron will quickly move to a competitor offering better service. In some cases, even if a company’s product is superior, a customer may turn to the provider he or she trusts more to offer solid customer service (and might even be willing to sacrifice a bit on quality to get it).

Customer service
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10 Tips for Offering Good Customer Service

1. Listen to Your Customer

Your customers are the reason for success and to continue the relationship between you and your customer, you have to listen to what they have to say. For instance, if there is a complaint, don't dismiss a customer's words or view the person as disgruntled; instead, view the objection as an opportunity to improve. Listen to what is bothering your customer and make all attempts to make him or her satisfied with both the transaction and your company.

Companies who routinely dismiss their customers' needs and/or wants will quickly learn these consumers are likely not going to become or stay a loyal customer. Instead, they'll move to a competitor that seems to care about what they have to say.

2. Do Solid Market Research

Market research is a vital part of offering good customer service. You want to be able to bring products and services that will appeal to your market. If your offerings do not match what consumers are seeking, those products won't sell.

Putting a primary focus on learning exactly what your customers want and need, you'll make strong strides towards providing good service. A business that cannot move its inventory or sell its services because it is not hitting the mark on its target market is likely to experience a lower level of success.

3. Be Friendly and Personable

When a customer enters your establishment it is important to greet him or her with a smile. Even if you're having the worst day, put those feelings aside and focus on the person in front of you. Always be friendly, personable and make a concentrated effort to really get to know your customers. Personalization is an important part of customer service. If you get to know who your customers are, even greeting them by name, this will give a "feel good" environment at your establishment.

Customer service
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When you take the time to offer your customers a friendly and pleasant experience, people are inclined to return and continue to give you their business.

4. Offer Solutions

Always be ready and willing to offer a solution to your customer's problem. After all, one of the primary goals of selling is to provide solutions to customers; you are in business to offer something of value.

Even if you don't offer the product or know the answer to a customer's question, make every attempt to find out and, if you still can't offer a solution, be willing to refer to someone else. The latter seems counterproductive, but people will remember a business willing to put a customer’s needs above their own if they can’t offer what is sought.

5. Follow Up On the Sale

A sale doesn't end with the exchange of money, a part of offering good customer service ensures you always follow-up with your customer to make sure his or her transaction was satisfactory. This effort shows a level of personalization and provides you with feedback of how good a job you're doing. Never take the philosophy a transaction ends at the time of the sale, always follow-up and make sure the service and/or product is agreeable.

6. Be Involved

No matter what your position in the organization, make a strong effort to get involved with your customers. Greet them as they enter your establishment and say goodbye when they leave, whether they bought anything or not.

If you are a manager or director, make the effort to be "seen" by customers. Don't be aloof and stay behind closed doors. A company that puts effort forth in being cordial and directly involved with customers shows a level of concern and caring; this will go a long way in terms of developing strong customer service relationships.

7. Be Accommodating

While the old adage the customer is always right still holds some weight, today's customer service relationships must go even further. In addition to offering what a customer wants, go the extra mile and accommodate the customer during the transaction as much as possible.

Trust. Customer service
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8. Accept Criticism

Another valuable aspect of customer service is to be willing to accept criticism. Listen to your customers' feedback and don't dismiss it because you may not agree with it. The bottom line is if there are complaints which aren't resolved, the customer isn't going to come back.

9. Optimize Technology

Statistics suggest 42 percent of service agents are unable to efficiently fix customer issues due to poor tech or misuse of technology. [2] That being the case, businesses want to make sure their tech is efficient and relatively up-to-date.

Customer service relationship software can help you reach ideal customer service. Through tracking and data mining you can effectively get a solid scope on your customers' wants, needs and wishes. Use this data wisely and you'll find yourself gaining a competitive advantage.

Technology is an incredible tool, but must be used wisely, the software isn't meant to replace customer service, but rather enhance it. Be careful not to ask for unnecessary personal information and put a priority on data security to safeguard the information that is collected. Additionally, be sure website information is current and you've developed a mobile-friendly website. Here too is another area where security should be at the top of the "to do" list.

10. Be Open to Change

If something isn't working, change it! As times evolve and trends change you may find you need to vary your product, alter your service or adapt to new technologies and trends.

To offer good customer service, there may come a time where you may need to even develop a new business model to change with the times. Never be close-minded to change, businesses that cannot adapt will find troubles in the long run. Acceptance of change is an important part of customer service.

Good customer service is at the heart of a successful organization. Listen to your customer and make do your best to give them what they want and they'll return again and again.