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20 Tips for Better Customer Service

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Jason Stahl has 26 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 14 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

A recent run-in with bad customer service gave me the idea to come up with my own personal “Top 20 Tips on Improving Your Customer Service.”

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Look, we’re all customers. Even you as a business owner are a customer. Think about where you buy coffee or electronics or furniture. Think about your trips to the bank or a restaurant. What honks you off the most when dealing with the employees of these businesses? What impresses you the most? Look through the eyes of a customer and you may be able to improve your own customer service.

So here goes:

1. Do not fight with or denigrate employees in front of me. Very tacky. Very unprofessional. And it makes me very uncomfortable.

2. Please demonstrate proper hygiene and be clean.

3. Do not appear to be mad at the world. Smile and be happy. Act like my transaction has made your day.

4. Do not appear listless and lethargic. Have energy and pep.

5. Do not socialize with fellow employees during my transaction.

6. Do not complain about your job to fellow employees during my transaction.

7. Make eye contact with me. Do not talk to the countertop or, in the case of a recent experience of mine at a computer service store, the monitor of my laptop.

8. Have answers to my questions. If I hear, “I really don’t know,” or, “I’m not familiar with our policy enough to know,” it will turn me off big time.

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9. Don’t make me wait too long. Don’t have only one employee working at peak time when there is a line of 10 people waiting for service. Do something with me. At least acknowledge me and that you’ll be with me in a few moments. Or better yet, make me comfortable.

10. Make me aware of deals I didn’t know about. “You know if you buy two of those the other is half price?” Really? Cool!

11. Do not let me see you smoking outside and then come in and service me. At least do me the courtesy of a breath mint and hand wash, especially if you’re going to cut my hair.

12. Make sure employees’ break area is not within sight of customers. I don’t want to see a group of employees sitting around smoking and trading dirty jokes.

13. Do not tell me, “This is the only deal we have.” Work with me. Give me some options. Again, this happened to me at a computer service store.

14. Do not overload me with information. I don’t need to know all your store’s policies and the minutiae about your deals. Speak only to what is relevant to my purchase.

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15. Do not ask me “Is everything okay?” more than twice.

16. Do not hit on me while I am doing business with you.

17. Do not talk to me as if I’m stupid or hard of hearing.

18. If I call your business, sound pleasant. Believe me, I will be the nicest person you will deal with all day. Don’t be short with me just because every other customer who has called that day was rude.

19. If I have a problem with the service I received or the product I bought, make it right.

20. Pleasantly surprise me. I did not expect a free loaner car and a bag of cookies when I took my vehicle in to get the heater fixed. I am definitely going back to that shop.

Was that 20? Oh shoot, I have one more. It’s tired and overused but so true: The customer is always right!

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