101 Ways To Provide Exceptional Customer Service Today

By Mike Johnson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Johnson has been fascinated with the power of exceptional customer service since 1981 when as a McDonald’s restaurant manager, he was told by company President Ed Rensi that his restaurant’s customer service was the best he’d ever seen, anywhere. McDonald’s then filmed a customer service training video in Mike’s restaurant for system-wide distribution.

Four decades later, Mike is a retired journalist and business owner who has published more than 800,000 words on the topic of customer service. He has interviewed executives at more than 150 of America’s most service-renowned companies including Disney, Federal Express and Ritz-Carlton. This booklet shares the 101 best customer service practices in use today.

Contact Information:

Mike Johnson
PO Box 287
Wapiti, WY 82450
(307)587-2331
mj17@vcn.com
WorldsBestWriter.com

Original Copyright 2004 Mike Johnson


PREPARATION

1. Awaken with gratitude. Upon awakening, dwell on all the things for which you are grateful -- your family, your home, your possessions, your skills, your health. Grateful thoughts make you feel better, and the better you feel, the better you serve others.

2. Eat dessert first. Seat the alarm 30 or 60 minutes early so you have the time to pamper yourself before rushing off to your day. Take a relaxing walk, work on a favorite hobby, read by the fireplace or soak in a warm bath.

3. Bribe yourself. Make today special by wearing your favorite clothes, listening to that new CD in the car, stopping for breakfast at your favorite diner or bringing a new photo for your desk. Making these arrangements the night before helps you look forward to the day.

4. Make a giving plan. Think of the coworkers and customers you’ll face today -- who can you delight today with a surprise gift or compliment? You’ll look forward to springing your surprise and others will start looking forward to you.

5. Affirm what you want. Every new day is a priceless commodity, how will you spend this irreplaceable gift? Visualize and affirm what you want from the day -- this helps it start manifesting from thought to substance.

6. Reward yourself. Serving the public is hard work so plan little rewards as you pass key milestones during the day. Treat yourself to a special lunch at the halfway mark of your day and take short breaks after serving difficult customers.

7. Keep a win file. As you encounter successes while working, file them in a special folder. Review this folder when feeling blue and use it at performance review time to prove you’ve earned a higher rating.

8. Quit the coffee clutch. Avoid those negative people who do nothing but complain around the water cooler. You become what you think about and positive thoughts lead to positive results.


ATTITUDE

9. Expand your definition of customer. Everyone you encounter is your customer -- coworkers, superiors, subordinates, vendors and of course, customers. Treating everyone as your customer not only better serves others, it improves your own reputation which will result in later rewards you can’t even imagine.

10. Treat customers like Mom. As you serve customers throughout your day, approach each as if she is your mother or he is your father. Treating others as if they were your parents will keep you on your most professional, courteous, helpful and attentive behavior.

11. Remember who pays your wages. Without the repeat business of customers, our company would not have the income to pay your salary and you’d have no job. In reality, the customer signs your paycheck.


FACE-TO-FACE SERVICE

12. Pounce. Show customers you respect them by immediately dropping other activities the instant they approach. Move quickly and beat them to your work station so they never have to wait for your arrival.

13. Smile and greet. Immediately smile and greet customers as they enter, giving them your full attention. This makes them feel welcome, acknowledges their presence and convinces them they’ve made the right decision to visit our organization.

14. Make eye contact. Eye contact builds rapport and shows you are attentive, confident and professional. Play a game with yourself that assures eye contact -- without starring, try to determine the customer’s eye color.

15. Offer assistance. Now show your eagerness to serve by asking a short but sincere question. “Hello Mr. Jones, how can I help you today?”

16. Actively listen. Many service workers are poor listeners and start crafting their responses while the customer is still talking, causing much to be missed. Be different -- as customers speak, lean forward, nod appropriately and actively listen to every word BEFORE crafting your response.

17. Offer solutions. Now provide what the customer requested. If several options will solve the customer’s need, explain each and let the customer decide.

18. Hustle. If serving the customer requires you to physically move from one place to another, do so with a sense of urgency. Slow movements tell the customer you don’t value his time.

19. Capture feedback. Customers frequently share comments, offer suggestions or make complaints. Treat this information like gold because it helps us improve.

20. Read body language. Unsatisfied customers don’t always verbally complain so keep an eye on body language. If you sense unhappiness, ask, “what else can I do to improve your experience?”

21. Finalize the purchase and plus-sell where appropriate. Paraphrase your solution with the customer, seek agreement for the purchase and offer another related item that will save the customer time or hassle. “OK Mr. Jones, here’s one new lawnmower and a gas can. Would you like to purchase a spare spark plug while you’re here?”

22. Accept payment. Clearly state the total amount due and offer payment options. “That comes to $143.00, would you like to handle this by cash, check, credit card or invoice?”

23. Giving change/receipts. Whenever possible, place the customer’s change and receipt directly into his hand. This is easier for the customer and more professional.

24. Thank the customer. Customers could have conducted their business at any of a dozen of our competitors. Show customers you realize this by sincerely thanking them for the transaction.

25. Invite return. Now sincerely ask the customer for repeat business. “Thank you Mr. Jones, please come back when we can help you again.”


INBOUND TELEPHONE

26. Answer quickly. Answer all calls by the first or second ring. This saves time and prevents the caller from thinking his call is an interruption of your other work.

27. Add a smile to your voice. It’s true, customers can detect your demeanor without ever seeing you. When you physically smile when taking a call, your customer can “see” it in your voice.

28. Provide the perfect opening line. When calling, customers want to hear a cheerful greeting, the name of our company, your name and an offer of assistance. “Good afternoon, Denver Dentistry, Susan speaking, how may I help you?”

29. Speak in a friendly tone. Talk with a cheerful, upbeat tone of voice. Sarcasm, exasperation and monotone voice tones send negative messages no matter what words you speak.

30. Ask permission before placing on hold. Never place customers on hold without asking permission first. This avoids cutting customers off, communicates what you’re doing and shows respect for customers’ time.

31. Offer voicemail as needed. If the customer’s party is not available, offer to transfer the caller to voicemail. Voicemail is the ideal choice for customers with complex messages.

32. Take accurate messages. If the customer prefers to leave a message with you, make sure you capture all information accurately. Re-verify name spelling, phone number and the actual message.

33. Capture best time for return call. If the message is left with you, ask the customer to identify the best time for a return call. This helps avoid frustrating phone-tag.

34. Introduce parties when handing off. If you must transfer the customer to someone else who can better handle the issue, introduce both parties before handing off. This shows professional courtesy and helps maintain rapport between all parties.

35. Enunciate clearly. You may repeat the same things over and over all day but the customer is often hearing them for the first time. Enunciate your common greetings clearly enough that first-time callers will clearly understand what you said.

36. Verify all needs have been met. Before concluding a call, make sure the customer has received everything he or she wanted. “Does this complete your needs today Mrs. Smith, or is there something else I can do for you?”

37. Thank customer for the call. Show that you appreciate the customer’s call by saying so. “Thank you for calling Mrs. Smith, I’ve enjoyed helping you.”


OUTBOUND TELEPHONE

38. Return all calls promptly. Each phone message on your desk represents someone whose work may be stalled while waiting for an answer from you. Treat every phone message with the same sense of urgency you’d show if that person was standing in front of your desk.

39. Prepare. Before placing a call, show your respect for others’ time by preparing what you’re going to say. Mental preparation works for simple topics, but written preparation is better for complex topics.

40. Smile and greet. A telephone call is an interruption of someone’s day -- especially if you are trying to sell something with an unexpected cold call. Your cheerful and sincere greeting helps break through natural defenses.

41. State your business. Be clear, direct and concise. You have less than 10 seconds to make a positive impression. After that, the customer decides how actively He’ll participate with your call.

42. Ask for permission to continue. Don’t speak for more than 10 seconds when your call is answered. People can only digest small amounts of verbal information without a break. After you’ve stated your purpose for the call, ask, “Can I tell you more about how you will benefit from this information?”

43. Ask questions to gather needs. When you ask questions, you gain information that helps you determine a better solution for customer needs. Asking questions also gets the other person more involved in the call.

44. Listen. Every word spoken by customers is like gold. Show you realize this by actively listening and taking notes.

45. Establish rapport. Rapport is built when customers believe you are like them. Mirror the customer’s talking speed, agree where possible and show understanding and empathy for customer comments and problems.

46. Ask for action. Don’t forget the purpose of your call. Ask the customer to take the desired action, whether it is to try, buy or stop by.

47. Summarize agreements. Restate any agreements in your own words and verify them with the customer. Now immediately follow through with any promises you made.

48. Thank customer. Show your sincere appreciation for the customer’s time and interest. Even if no commerce was conducted, professionally handling the call improves the reputation of you and our company.

49. Leave proper voicemail. Make it easy for customers to respond to your messages. Leave your name, our company name, phone number, purpose for your call, best time to call you back and then end by repeating your name and phone number.


EMAIL SERVICE

50. Respond quickly. You wouldn’t leave customers on hold all day so you shouldn’t make them wait all day for an email response either. Respond quickly -- email is such an instant medium that customers expect a faster response.

51. Paste letters. Use the “reply” key on your email program and you’ll automatically paste the customer’s letter into your response. This reminds customers why they wrote and helps you fully respond to each question or concern.

52. Follow etiquette. Don’t type in all capital letters, avoid slang and company jargon and stay away from forwarding jokes, sounds and photos. It is very easy to unknowingly annoy someone by using poor email etiquette.

53. Avoid attachments. Not everyone can open every type of attachment. Whenever possible, avoid attachments by pasting the attachment’s content into the body of the email letter itself.

54. Be professional. Written documents last forever and can be sent to places you’d never imagine. Never write anything you’d be ashamed of having others read.

55. Tailor responses to each customer. Form letters can be a great help in responding to common inquiries. Beginning with a template is fine but customizing each response will make a much better impression.

56. Learn the five steps. Your email responses should follow a simple outline -- purpose, response, summary, thanks, contact. Announce why you are writing, craft your response to the inquiry, summarize the situation, then add a thank you for writing and additional contact information to reach you by phone, postal mail or personal visit.

57. Use humor sparingly. The Internet is a bit more informal than real-life so it’s tempting to show a little personality and humor. Be careful, written words don’t convey the same tone and facial expressions of a verbal conversation and can be easily misunderstood.

58. Write tight. Write in a concise manner. Make your points quickly and succinctly.

59. Remember the law. Emails become permanent legal records that can be used later in lawsuits and legal actions. Never write anything that can later come back to harm you or our company.

60. Maintain privacy. Never copy a customer’s email message to anyone outside the company without the customer’s permission. Also, when sending the same message to multiple customers, never list everyone’s email address in the header line -- this violates privacy by revealing everyone’s email address to everyone who receives your mailing.

61. Create a response bank. As you reply to common inquiries, save your letters as templates for similar responses in the future. This will greatly reduce your future response time.

62. Avoid email as needed. When customers write with complex problems, it is often more effective to respond by telephone. This allows an immediate two-way communication that greatly reduces the time to a solution.


HANDLING COMPLAINTS

63. Take ownership. When customers complain to you, it is your responsibility to find a solution. If you can’t solve the situation yourself, bring the customer together with someone who can.

64. Listen without interruption. Customers will often release pent up frustration when making a complaint. Let them.This provides you with the information and motivation to make the situation right.

65. Show empathy. Nod in understanding and say things like, “I understand how that would make you upset.” This shows the customer he has an ally.

66. Don’t make it personal. Remain mentally detached and you’ll remain calm in the face of the customer’s emotional storm. The customer is complaining about a situation, not about you personally.

67. Avoid excuses. Don’t blame the situation on another person or department within our company. To the customer, you ARE our company.

68. Use names. Using the customer’s name can provide a calming effect. “Mr. Jones, I’m sure I can help solve this.”

69. Ask clarifying questions. When you ask for factual clarification, you make the customer think, which breaks his tirade. This also provides more information to help find a solution.

70. Paraphrase. Now repeat the customer’s complaint in your own words. This verifies that you have the right information and shows the customer you understand the problem.

71. Offer your help. Fully use the limits of your authority to offer several solutions. Customers’ satisfaction is higher when they are allowed to select their own solutions.

72. Present the solution. Give the customer the solution with an apologetic attitude. Remember that your solution may be making the situation right, but it never should have gone wrong in the first place.

73. Apologize. Sincerely apologize for the situation. “I’m sorry that you had to go through this Mr. Jones, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make it right.”

74. Give an added bonus. If possible, now give the customer something unexpected to help compensate for the time and hassle. Things that work well include free delivery, free upgrades, free supplies and coupons or gift certificates for future purchases.

75. Collect contact information. If you don’t already have the customer’s contact information, try to collect it. “Mr. Jones, I’d like to check back with you to verify that our solution is still satisfactory. Can I get your telephone number and address?”

76. Thank customer. Thank the customer again for taking the time and effort to allow you to solve the complaint. Ninety six percent of all unhappy customers never complain -- they just silently take their business elsewhere.

77. Follow up. Within the next couple days, send the customer a handwritten apology note or place a phone call to verify satisfaction. These gestures help rebuild the relationship, decreasing the chance of defection.


HOW TO REMEMBER CUSTOMER NAMES

78. Vow to remember names. A person’s name is the most beautiful word in their world. Remembering customer names shows that you know them as individuals rather than faceless customers.

79. Learn names. It’s easy to learn a customer’s name. Just extend your hand and say, “Hello, I’m Mary, what is your name?”

80. Listen to names. Most people don’t hear customer names because they are thinking of what they’ll say next rather than what the customer is saying. Be different -- listen Intently -- especially for that name.

81. Repeat names. Make sure you have heard the name correctly by repeating it. “Dan… I have a brother named Dan.”

82. Associate names. Now mentally link the customer’s face with your brother Dan. This helps you easily recall the customer’s name in the future.

83. Use names. Now use the customer’s name several times in your conversation. Repetition aids memory.


HOW TO HANDLE COMMON TYPES OF DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS

84. The Egotist. This customer thinks he knows everything there is to know about everything and looks down on you. Show respect by using phrases like, “Of course you already know,” and “I’m sure you’re aware of…” These phrases stroke the customer’s ego and capture his attention.

85. The Complainer. Nothing satisfies these negative customers -- they complain and whine about everything. Ask these customers how they want you to handle the situation. This forces these customers to tell you what they want. Now deliver it.

86. The Sarcastic. These customers mumble sarcastically during the transaction like something is wrong, but won’t complain directly. Confront these customers by saying, “I detect that you are unhappy, what can I do to meet your expectations?” The customer must now reveal his expectations, which provides the roadmap of how to satisfy him.

87. The Undecided. This customer can never make a decision because he focuses so much on the details that he can’t grasp the big picture. Help this customer by focusing on the details yourself, while pointing out the various features and benefits that make a decision easier. Be patient as you walk this customer through your education.

88. The Demander. These customers are loud, aggressive and demand attention NOW. Calm them by using their name, assuring your assistance and asking detailed questions that force the customer to slow down, think and provide rational answers. If the tirade continues, confront the customer with, “I can see that you’re unhappy and I want to help, what would you like me to do to satisfy you?”


ADVANCED SERVICE TECHNIQUES

89. Be specific. Rather than telling the customer you will provide an answer “sometime this week,” put yourself on the line with a deadline. “I’ll have an answer to you no later than noon on Wednesday.” Now beat that deadline.

90. Avoid turbulent words. Certain words cause smooth communications to grind to a halt. Avoid words like no, can’t, policy, wait, wrong, should’ve and why.

91. Look professional. Customers will make judgments about you and our company based on the condition of your work area. Is it neat, organized and professional?

92. Anticipate needs. You will greatly impress customers if you provide their needs before they ask. Review customers’ past orders, current habits and future desires to anticipate what they’ll need today.

93. Ask for feedback. Is the customer satisfied? What can you do better in the future? Ask -- and then capture that information in writing so you can improve satisfaction.

94. Collect intelligence. Carry a “customer preference pad” to capture a list of things each customer prefers. Whether witnessed directly or overheard in conversation, this information can be reviewed prior to the customer’s next visit to provide amazing service.

95. Be discreet. Keep all work-related talk out of earshot of customers. It’s unprofessional, it makes customers uncomfortable and if the wrong things are said, can be very embarrassing to our company.

96. Maintain grooming. Keep a clean, neat and professional appearance. Customers size you up and decide if they like you within the first four minutes of contact.

97. Do your homework. You represent our company so will be asked many questions. Learn the answers to common questions such as our business hours, product specifications and service offerings.

98. Don’t be robotic. Each customer is unique and each transaction -- even if it’s similar all day long -- should be personalized. Create a several ways to say the same things so you don’t sound like an insincere robot.

99. Admit your mistakes. Customers are very forgiving if you quickly admit a mistake. Laugh at yourself and the customer will help you climb out of your hole.

100. Be friendly before you know who it is. Ever answer the phone grumpily and then have to switch to your friendly voice as you learn it’s the boss calling? Too late -- avoid this snafu by being friendly to everyone, all the time.

101. Exceed expectations. You spent 100 percent of your effort to satisfy the customer. It only takes another five percent to delight him -- give that extra five percent.

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Customer Service Facts

* A dissatisfied customer typically tells 8 others about the negative experience. These people then tell more people. Just one dissatisfied customer can negatively influence up to 82 others.

* Only 4% of all customers ever complain. For every complaint received there are an average of 26 other complaints that were never voiced. Six of these complaints are serious enough to cause defection.

* Nearly 95% of customers who complain will continue to do business with you if the complaint is handled quickly and to their satisfaction.

* Depending on your industry, the lifetime value of each customer can be 10 to 1,000 times the value of a single transaction.

* Research shows it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing customer. Exceptional service is the best way to retain customers.

* Existing customers spend more per transaction and purchase higher profit items than new customers, resulting in more profits for salary increases and career advancement opportunities.

* Providing exceptional customer service makes for happier customers who are easier to deal with, making your job more enjoyable.

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10 More Ways To Provide Exceptional Customer Service With This Booklet

* Thank your business-to-business customers by enclosing this booklet with your invoice or shipment.

* Hand this booklet to prospects at trade shows.

* Mail this booklet to customers and prospects as a way to stay connected.

* Reward customers who answer surveys with a free copy of this booklet.

* Award this booklet to customers who enter your in-store drawings.

* Use this booklet as an incentive to encourage the opening of new accounts.

* Use this booklet as an unexpected gift when you make sales presentations.

* Present this booklet as a value-added premium with other items your customers purchase.

* Thank those who refer business to you with a copy of this booklet.

* Help your colleagues and network of associates by providing a copy of this booklet.

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More About the Author

Mike Johnson has run and owned businesses since 1968. He’s managed $1 million to $60 million operations for McDonald’s & 7-Eleven. Mike’s been a successful serial entrepreneur who has started and sold multiple businesses. He has written and sold thousands of articles related to business and entrepreneurship. He has been rich, gone bankrupt and gotten rich again. Mike knows what it’s like to be so broke you don’t have any money to buy food.

He’s learned that the greater your financial self-sufficiency, the greater your financial security.

Mike has invested 10,000 hours researching the US financial & political systems and is certain there will be no recovery before a massive collapse or reset. He is also the author of "43 Ways to Earn Cash Today & 44 Ways to Earn Cash Tomorrow." Mike wrote this free, double booklet to help you survive and thrive during these difficult times.

Gain hundreds of other valuable, FREE ideas at Mike's website WorldsBestWriter.com

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These are practical ideas. But practicality only takes you so far. You need inspiration to act on the ideas. Today's troubles are not permanent. Your inner light is far greater than any temporary trouble. Remind yourself of this here:

"The Lost Wallet Stuffed With Cash"

Mike Johnson
PO Box 287
Wapiti, WY 82450
307-587-2331
mj17@vcn.com
WorldsBestWriter.com

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