Great customer service ain’t what it used to be. In my previous blog, A Guide to Great Customer Service -Part 1- I went over how many businesses aren’t providing a great customer service standard, with tips on having a customer-friendly website and how to make your customers happy. As a small business owner – I run my own specialty publishing company, Gauntlet Press – great customer service is my number one goal. A happy customer will usually return even if he/she was initially irate. Here are more tips to keep your customers happy and achieve great customer service.
3 – Great Customer Service Phone Calls
Accept phone calls. Yes, phone calls can be time-consuming, but there are more than a few customers who want to order and pay via phone rather than online. And, they may then want to talk about books or one of their favorite authors. Give them the time and they’ll order again. I have no secretary and, thank God, no menus on my phone. When someone calls, they get me. I take care of their concern or take their order and end up with a satisfied customer.
4- The Customer is Always Right
The customer is always right even when he/she is wrong. You need that mindset to be successful and provide great customer service. Never reply in anger (whether via email or phone) to the most aggravating customer. A customer’s book may be lost or damaged in the mail and his/her email isn’t even remotely friendly. Deal with it. If a book is damaged I just ask for a letter via email explaining what occurred so I can file an insurance claim (by the way Stamps.com is far easier to deal with than the post office. I’ve never had a problem with Stamps.com. They are quick and professional. The post office takes forever. UPS is even worse, often denying legitimate claims).
I sent a replacement copy immediately even if I’m asking the customer to return the dinged copy (which I can send to my printer for repair). And I often add a bonus item if I am requesting the return of a damaged item.A lost book is even easier. Stamps.com pays almost immediately. I send out a replacement copy, no questions askedA lost book is even easier. Stamps.com pays almost immediately. I send out a replacement copy, no questions askedA lost book is even easier. Stamps.com pays almost immediately. I send out a replacement copy, no questions asked. Rather than pay for the return postage (usually between $3-5) I tell the customer I’ll send him/her a chapbook (a pamphlet with a short story) by their favorite author I publish or a trade paperback which costs far more than the return postage. This bit of great customer service costs me virtually nothing and the goodwill it generates is invaluable.
5 – Good Communication = Great Customer Service
Communication is paramount. Besides responding to emails and phone calls I send out a newsletter every other week (too many companies bombard me with newsletters — some daily, some a few times a week, and others weekly). I know my customers are getting newsletters from other publishers. So, it’s every other week. The newsletter contains updates on the status of books we are working on. And, there is always a “newsletter special” only for those receiving the newsletter. I have a massive backlist of books (some 20 years old) so I can always offer a discount. Those receiving the newsletter understand they are special. Subscribe to the newsletter and you can get a great deal not offered to the general public.
Great customer service will generate new sales and keep your customer base happy. Remember that customer service basics are timeless. Ignore great customer service at your own peril.