Friendly Is Free!
My family and I visit the same Mexican restaurant at least once every week. Sometimes they're out of my favorite beer, sometimes the music is a little too loud, and sometimes the wait for the food is excruciating.
But we keep coming back, week after week.
The answer is simple. This restaurant excels in a business practice so common sense that it is often overlooked and underemphasized: kindness. We are greeted by name and with beaming smiles, and by the time we leave the restaurant we are happier by association.
Businesses are often so focused on large-scale operations and their bottom line that they forget to think about the quality of their customer service. Excellent customer service is what will retain customers, make lines wrap around the building, and make word spread like wildfire about your business. Best of all, most of the things surrounding customer service are 100% free.
Far too often, companies pour cash into online marketing and advertising efforts and web development, only to drop the ball when it comes to following up with leads and connecting on a personal basis with interested consumers. The focus of a successful business should still be about personalizing customer service, even in an increasingly digital world.
Translating online inquiries into client relationships is becoming more and more important. Businesses looking to connect with digitally savvy clientele will have to step up their online customer service to keep pace with the ever-changing tide of business.
So what does friendly mean online?
Being friendly online should be a priority for your business.
Three steps you can take today to improve customer service online are:
- Responding quickly.
- Adding personalization
- Being available on the phone, not just via email.
Responding quickly shows your customers that you are available for them and are putting them first. A response within 24 hours is respectful of your client's time and tells them that you are prioritizing their inquiry.
Personalization in service makes the customer feel valued and appreciated. Adding a kind, personal greeting to your response allows you to connect with the customer and will set you apart from those who reply with uniform, cookie-cutter automation.
Being available by phone and email, adds yet another personal touch and shows that you are dedicating your full time and attention to meeting a client's requests. In an age of endless automation, it is reassuring to a customer that there is a friendly human being on the other end of the line.
All three of these simple steps communicate what kind of company you are behind the computer screen. Practicing friendliness goes hand-in-hand with going above and beyond for your customers, and they will thank you in return with their continued business and by recommending your services to friends and family. You might have the best product on the market, but the line of customers will get shorter every day if your customers do not feel valued and are not treated with kindness.
Being friendly is your greatest asset and most readily available tool in your toolbox. Remember, friendly is free. Actually, friendly is the free-est.