Customer service is the heartbeat of any business. No matter how great your product or service, responding to your customer in a timely, professional manner beats everything.
Good service was important in the early 1800’s where pioneers traveled by horse and wagon to the general store. They relied on the storekeeper to carry food like dried beans, cornmeal and coffee, along with necessities like medicines, cloth, pistols and rope. While the store shelves were crammed with boxes, crates and tables, they depended on the merchant’s knowledge for product information, to have what they needed in stock – and for gossip on the locals. Very similar to what you can see at Oleson’s Mercantile on Little House on the Prairie reruns; Nels worked hard to keep his shelves stocked and customers happy.
Everything changed in the late 1800’s when the telephone was invented. If you had enough financial status, you could now call your order into the general store so your goods were ready for pick upon your arrival.
By the 1960’s, call centers emerged and by the ‘90’s, emailing, shopping the Internet and chatting live online became more prevalent. Early in the 2000’s self-checkout lanes opened in grocery stores – and now social media and apps have changed everything.
Today consumers value information that they can obtain readily on their own – and if they can’t find what they need, they want immediate help. They don’t want to enter into the customer service underworld where their phone call is loped through an automated system – you know, ‘press 1 for English’ and ‘listen carefully as our list of options may be have changed.’ For companies that don’t respond quickly, I expect they suffer sales fallout.
Customers should be able to get a hold of you, or someone in the company, easily if they have a question or need support. Having multiple outlets (phone, email, and web) for communication is essential.
2. Timely Response
Responding to an inquiry within 24 hours is standard. If a question is coming in over the weekend or a holiday, most customers understand and will wait for a reply on the next business day.
3. Treat People with Respect
There's an old saying ‘you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’. This simply translates to ‘be nice’. Everyone has ‘off’ days, so accept that, listen and solve the issue so it benefits both parties.
4. Honesty Counts
Don’t promise something that can’t be done. If you can’t deliver what is needed or within the timeline required, be honest and prepared to walk away from the opportunity. Or if something got messed up in the process – we’re all human, we all make mistakes; just remedy the situation the best you can and move on.
5. Do What You Say
This one’s easy. Simply fulfill what you said you were going to do. Building trust and reliability is the first step in developing a long-lasting relationship. Many times you have to depend on others to fulfill what you promised. If it ends up that you can’t do what you thought could be done, then review #4.
At Sunset Hill Stoneware, we like to think that we do these five steps and more. In my opinion, our account specialist team is second to none.
Shari is only a snapshot of our account specialist team. You’ll have the same great experience when working with Jeff, Tom, Anne and Brandi too. They are all experts in helping customers build brand equity by setting their logo in stone(ware).
The essential principles of customer service are timeless and unchanging. Much like stoneware that is attractive, functional and uniquely yours.
Our team is ready to support you.
Keeping watch. Pat