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A little respect goes a long way

Dec. 1, 2017 at 3:53 p.m.


Trust is the essential element for business success, and it is what BBB Accredited Businesses have committed to building. When customers trust you, they will keep doing business with you. Likewise, they will send other customers your way.

Most consumers come to BBB to look up information about a company before doing business with them. However, some consumers do contact BBB offices about an unhappy experience, and we work with both parties to find a resolution. Most unhappy customers, however, tell other people about their experience. Remember one unhappy customer tells eleven others. Each of these tells five. This means 67 people now know of the poor service that one customer received. Over time, your company's reputation could suffer.

"Having poor customer service will likely have negative implications on your business", said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. "The good news is, with good policies and procedures in place, most of this is both preventable and reparable."

TIP: Developing formal grievance policies and procedures and training your employees will make it less chaotic should a crisis occur. The following are the most common types of complaints:

Poor treatment. Customers complain when they feel they have been mistreated. This is the easiest problem to avoid. Make your customers feel respected.

Poor or slow complaint handling. Respond promptly. Acknowledge receiving the complaint, and say when you might be able to resolve the problem.

Failure to deliver a promised item of merchandise or a service. If there will be a delay, contact the customer to explain when the product or service might be available. The law may require that you offer the option to cancel or accept a substitute. It is certainly good business practice to do so.

Product or service quality is poor or damaged. When you sell something, it is implied that the item is good enough to sell ("implied warranty"). Because of this, if you supply a defective item or service, you are required to offer to substitute a good item or service, provide a repair, or supply some other solution.

Refund issues. The refund policy should be clear and concise and should be available at the point of purchase before the sale is made. Abide by the terms of your policy. Make it easy for the customer to contact you should they need assistance.

Failure to honor prices, warranties, or deceptive advertising. Deliberately misleading customers is illegal and bad for business.

Misuse of private customer information. Create a privacy and data security policy that complies with applicable laws, make the policy available to customers in writing, and train employees to safeguard private customer information.

TIP: Show that you care about the customer's problem, even if you don't agree with what the customer says.

Make the customer feel important. This is a universal human need. Sixty-eight percent of customers leave a company not because they are dissatisfied with a product or service, but because of indifference by a company's employees. A little care goes a long way.

Listen. If you are talking, you aren't listening. Listen actively, to understand the main points and show that you hear what is being said. Find out exactly what kind of solution the customer wants. Summarize what you think you heard and ask the customer if that is what he or she means.

Be kind. Even if the customer is misinformed, don't respond with anger. Apologize if something made the customer unhappy. Be friendly and sympathetic.

For more information on how to be a savvy business owner, go to bbb.org. To network with BBB Accredited Businesses and other professionals, join our LinkedIn group or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Mechele Mills is the President|CEO for the Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas. Prior to her role at BBB, she led and consulted organizations of all sizes, managing operations, sales marketing, and personnel for both the public and private sector. She holds a Bachelor's in Journalism/PR from the University of Texas at Tyler and a Master's in Business Administration from Baylor University.

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