Build a Recession-Proof Business with Customer Service

Duringbad economic times, everything seems to be a little tougher. It'stougher tocome to work when you know the phone might not be ringing as much andtherewill be significantly fewer inquiries for rentals. Not to mention, whenyou dotalk with customers, they share with you how much their business isdown. Andto make it even more difficult, much of what you read and hear is justplain badnews.

 

However,there is one thing you can control even during recessionary times ¯ theserviceyou deliver to your customers. Great customer service is not restrictedby theeconomy.

 

Theservice you provide is more important now than ever before. Yourcustomers areexperiencing many of the same challenges that you and your employeesare facing.However, when they call or visit your store, they still want greatservice. Ifyou commit to focusing on consistently exceeding the customers' needsand buildinglasting relationships that go beyond the initial sale, your companywill have abetter chance of surviving any economic cycle.

 

Thefollowing tips can help you to achieve superior customer service andbuildlasting relationships with every customer interaction:

 

Applythefundamentals.By fundamentals, I mean the little things that make a big difference.Here aresome examples:

  • Yoursmile. A smile will cost you nothing but will deliver in a big way.Whether you are interacting with customers on the phone or in person,they want to see a smile. Your smile can be contagious.
  • Deliveran upbeat greeting. Your passion to serve is clearly demonstrated withyour greeting. Without going overboard, you can provide a welcominggreeting that clearly shows your willingness to help.
  • Watchyour body language. More than half of what you communicate is done withyour body - facial expressions, posture, eye contact, etc. Your bodylanguage will clearly demonstrate how engaged you are with thecustomer. For example, when a customer walks in your store, stand up togreet them and make certain they have your undivided attention.

 

Don'tbe a downer.If your business islike many today, you are most likely facing a downturn. However, when acustomer calls or enters your store, you need to be positive andoptimistic. Theywant to do business with you because you have a good relationship withthem,and they trust you and the equipment you rent. If they want to bedepressed,they can read the newspaper or watch TV - but they shouldn't bereminded of theeconomy when doing business with you. Set a goal to make all customersdoingbusiness with your company feel more optimistic at the end of eachinteraction.

 

Beempathetic.If a customer isgoing through rough times, be empathic to their current situation. Agood wayto display empathy is to respond with something like, "I know thingsaretough, but …." Be sympathetic, a good listener and a goodbusiness partner.Recognize that we are all going through a recession, but things willget better.

 

Knowyour benefitsand deliver value. Yourcompetitive advantages are just as important during a recession as theyare inprosperous times. Now more than ever, your customers are seeking greatvaluesand possibly comparative shopping. Like all of us, they want theirdollar tostretch farther and farther. You have to make sure customers understandthat yourcompany is the right company for them. Let them know why renting fromyou isthe best choice. Perhaps it's the age of your equipment, your team'sexpertise,how well you service it or some of your rental policies. You shouldalways bethinking about how to communicate value. Find out what is important toyourcustomers and make certain you are speaking to those priorities. Thereare toomany competitors out there anxious to capture business, so be thecompany thatstands out with great products, and most importantly, great service.

 

Buildtherelationship.Customers like to do business with people with whom they have aconnection. It'sideal when that connection is personal. Discover something that youhave incommon and build on that foundation. It could be a hobby that you shareorperhaps a local sports team. Take the time to get to know yourcustomers. Byasking the right questions during a customer interaction you willsurely beable to find something in common.

 

Showappreciation.Be sincere in theway you show your appreciation to your customers and the business theyprovide.Thank them for the opportunity to work with them and identify ways toconsistently exceed their expectations. Make certain the lastimpression is apositive and memorable one.

 

Becauseyou are dealing with economic challenges, you can't afford tocompromise customerservice. Customers still want and deserve your best, and they will dobusinesswith whoever can deliver that level of service. And the great news isthat the customerservice tips I am suggesting don't cost you anything!

 

Itis also important that you support and encourage others in your companytoprovide the highest level of service. When I ask our rental customerswhattheir number one concern is related to customer service, the answer isalmostalways consistency. From your receptionist to the person that servicesyourrental equipment, your company needs to consistently exceed customers'expectations. The delivery of legendary customer service should be astandard throughoutyour organization.

 

Youare building a culture, and regardless of the economic conditions, itneeds to bea service culture that focuses on building relationships and closingsales.

 

BarryHimmelis a senior vicepresident for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, Ohio-based sales andmarketing consultingcompany offering customer service training, marketing and mystery shoppingservices for the equipment rentalindustry. For more information, call (800) 398-0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com.

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