How To Achieve Customer Service Excellence
What does customer service excellence get you? It gets you what we call customer retention and hopefully word-of-mouth advertising. Customer retention means that the customer will buy from you again when they are ready to reorder, or when they want to buy other products that you sell. A new customer costs money or time to get, but an existing customer is very inexpensive to manage. The better your customer service is, the more likely you will have customers who would never think of buying anywhere else.
With top quality service hopefully comes word-of-mouth advertising. Customers are so thrilled by the service you give them that they tell their friends, associates, co-workers, family members, and so forth. It takes a lot to get to this point as customers are more likely to share their bad experiences than their good. But with superior customer service, as in perfection, comes customers who will spread the good word about you.
Top quality customer service is also something you can sell to potential customers. You want to let them know that doing business with you has no risk, that you will take care of them no matter what happens. You prominently display your money-back guarantee, you talk about your quick shipping, and you can even have customer testimonials that will talk about the quality of your product and service. Customers love this kind of information and will do business with people who can demonstrate quality customer service.
With our business, we chose Nordstrom as the company we wanted to emulate. Nordstrom goes the extra mile for their customers, often having sales people personally deliver a purchase to the customer, accepting returns for things they don’t sell, and allowing flexibility for customer service people. Doing business with Nordstrom is a dream. They charge more than other stores but you will never be unhappy buying from them. I have included a link to a book about Nordstrom’s customer service.
During the run of our business, we developed policies and procedures to help our customers. We had our 6 month money-back guarantee where the company offered a 30 day guarantee. This allowed our customers to try the product for longer before they gave up on it, and we had a higher level of success among our cusotmers. That meant that we also had fewer returns. The MLM company would have refunded our money for product returned by customers, but because of our policy our returns could not be refunded . Well maybe we could have but it would have been a hassle. Still, we wound up with a box full of empty bottles (less than 50) so I never really did get around to trying to get a refund. Many of the other distributors we met with talked about much higher return rates.
Our policy was also that if a customer asked for a refund for something they purchased from us, we would refund it. Period. I could have been a year or two it didn’t matter. If there was any question if they purchased the product from us, we would refund it at full price.
We also had a policy that if a customer ordered from us, we would deliver the product. If it was a new customer and their credit card was declined we would go to the ends of the earth to try to contact the customer and if we couldn’t, we wouldn’t ship the product. But that was the only exception. An existing customer who ordered and their credit card was declined, we would go back to our old records for a good credit card, we would try to contact the customer for another credit card, but ultimately we would ship the product without payment and bill the customer.
When we were first doing business, we didn’t take credit cards. This made doing business on the internet tricky. What we did was we billed the customer and collected from them after the fact. And it worked well, we would get paid. There were a handful of customers who never paid, though, and we were watchful for additional orders from them. After a few months, I would get on the telephone and call to see how they were doing. Some paid us, others didn’t. If I was able to get in touch with a customer and they had a good reason for not paying, I wrote off the bill. This actually led to additional business where we did get paid.
There were many examples where we went above and beyond for the customer and sometimes we would do something, then have a meeting to discuss the issue and what should be done to make it better next time. We didn’t want to get taken advantage of so we did try to prevent fraud, but we found that customers were generally honest so we always tried to do the right thing for them.
One thing I forgot to mention is that we did sell at about 15% – 20% higher than the cheapest distributors on the internet and we sold a ton.