Avoid Service-Related Mistakes by Putting the Customer First

Customer service mistakes will inevitably happen, but you can minimize them by coaching staff to always put the customer first. With the right training, your employees will be focused on the customer experience and avoid critical errors. Eliminating these mistakes can give you an important competitive advantage and help you define your rental store as the one that delivers the highest level of service.

Here are a few of the most common customer service mistakes, as well as some simple tips to help you and your staff avoid them.

Delivering a poor impression to new customers

It takes about 20 seconds for a customer to get a first impression of your business, so make sure the greeting you present on the phone or the welcome when they enter your store immediately sets a positive tone.

On the phone, the customer's first impression will be established based on how quickly the phone is answered and the quality and sincerity of the greeting. Train employees to answer the phone within three rings and deliver an upbeat and professional greeting.

In your store, the customer's first impressions will be based on neatness and cleanliness and your employees' appearance and body language. Look around your store from your customer's point of view - what could be enhanced to improve that critical first impression?

Only after you've created a positive first impression can you begin developing a relationship. Customers are more likely to do business where they feel comfortable. Building a relationship will result in repeat rentals, customer loyalty and referrals.

While the first impression is important to building a relationship, the lasting impression is equally important. We've found that before training, half of our clients will end a conversation with a new customer without saying a simple "thank you."

Delivering a sincere thank you lets the customer know you appreciate their business or the opportunity to earn their business. Don't miss out on the chance to leave a positive impression that can help you begin building a relationship.

Too focused on operations

It is easy to become focused on the operational aspects of the job. We find that employees too often concentrate only on policies and procedures such as deposits, restrictions and hours rather than how to provide great service.

There is a tendency to make sure prospective customers are exposed to all the restrictions and rules prior to ever committing to renting from you. While you shouldn't avoid the operational aspect of the transaction completely, you should take care to focus on building a legendary relationship with the customer. Once you have a good relationship and a commitment, the operations related to the sale become more relevant.

Not asking the right questions or asking for the sale

As the person delivering the product or service, it's up to you to ask the right questions so you can accurately assess your customers' needs. When you ask the right questions, the customer then gains more confidence in your abilities and starts feeling more comfortable trusting you with their business.

The right questions may also uncover additional business opportunities and lead you to a point where you can ask for the sale or upsell. It's important you and your front-line employees aren't simply "order-takers" and missing potential business opportunities. Role playing different scenarios with your employees can be an effective way to master this important skill.

Not presenting value in your products or services

Customers who are shopping around will typically inquire about availability and price. A common customer service mistake is providing the customer just that: availability and price. They know nothing else about your company and why they should choose to work with you. Even if a customer is just shopping, leave them with more than price - leave them with a great impression of your company and specific reasons why they should do business with you. Your price will have more meaning when delivered with value.

Not taking time to listen to your customers

There are probably distractions all over your facility with a lot of things going on at once. Add computers and cell phones, and it might seem impossible to give your customers your undivided attention. But, no matter what distractions surround you, it's imperative that you and your staff stay focused to minimize the potential for mistakes. Make eye contact. Ask questions. Even repeat or paraphrase what the customer is requesting so they know you are listening and you will get their request correct.

Not following up with the customer

We miss a great opportunity to build relationships and close business when we don't follow up with current or prospective customers. Following up shows that you are interested in their business and want to begin or continue working with them.

A follow up phone call or email is easy to do and the customer will remember that you took the time to check back with them. Let your customer know that you will be following up with him or her on at a specific time in the near future to check on their desire to work with you.

The mistakes above are common, but they are also easy to fix with the right training. If you can correct these mistakes, you are heading in the right direction to drive more rentals and set the customer service standard in your market.