In the field of business, one of the most important elements of success is found in excellent customer service. It is within this element that you will find several facets that must be attended to in order to make it excellent customer service. Two such facets are customer engagement and customer relations.
Customer engagement is perhaps one of the oldest known facets that have existed in providing excellent customer service. In essence, customer engagement is the manner in which a business, interacts with customers, suppliers, delivery carriers, maintenance personnel, as well as internal staff. The general manner of interaction is face-to-face or over a phone call. However, it may also be through written correspondence, e-mail, instant messages, and social media. Unfortunately, in modern times, it has become one of the most neglected facets. There are many businesses that have set-up their shops with the mentality of “if you build it, they will come.” And have found themselves struggling financially because they lacked knowledge, training, and practice of excellent customer service.
Knowing Your Customers
Customer engagement begins with you. From the moment you approach each one of the places that you intend to serve, you have begun to engage with your customers. You learn what they like and dislike ... you learn what they have and those things they need as well. You do follow-up visits with the key people that help you start your business and draw in customers. You provide some form of incentive that meets their needs but does not hurt your professional relationship with them.
Customer engagement also takes place with every customer that visits your bookshop. From a simple “Hello, How may I help you?” as they finish walking past your door and into your bookshop. As well as the “Thanks for stopping by, Have a safe day.” as they leave your bookshop. Perhaps there are moments within the day, where you can sit down briefly and converse with your customers, get to know them and the work they do; unofficial research. Try to fulfill those needs through your bookshop and also do a follow-up with them as well. More importantly, give your customers the sense that you are not in business to simply make a financial profit from them but to be an integrative part of the business community in that service area; your customers will love you for it.
Draw in the Customer
You can draw in the customer, but also encourage their engagement with you as well. One great idea is to offer a discount on national book day or coffee day. Another idea is to do $1.00 dollar coffee on a national boss or secretary day. Furthermore, you could have a monthly event where you have a speaker in the morning and in the afternoon that gives a presentation on a specific topic of business that could be of interest to people in the surrounding area. The summary of what you do comes down to allowing your customers to become a part of your bookshop. They are what gives it life and allow it to bloom with all the great things that it provides to others. Yet, if you limit your services and never extend yourself past being in your office, stocking inventory, preparing a drink or two, or check-out at the register, etc., then you will lose your customers quickly. You will experience a time of financial challenge to stay afloat, but more importantly, it will be just as costly to attempt to get your customers back.
Like with many things in life, nothing exists without the influence of something else. This holds true within your bookshop as well. It is important to address the facet of customer relations. In customer relations, you are looking at how the entity of your business relates to your customers. For instance, what are the “house rules” or policies of how you conduct business at the bookshop? It is important to establish them from the start so that customers know the boundaries to which they will be held accountable. They need to know the simple things, such as hours of operation, notice of special events, days of sales and special offers. Furthermore, it is important for them to know what rights they hold as customers, what is acceptable behavior and etiquette while they are within your bookshop. You cannot go up to a person and tell them not to smoke, use their “inside voice” while on the phone. If you do bring up such matters without such postings, you may lose more than one customer ... the one you offended and the ones who were bothered by the unacceptable behavior that was not addressed. Furthermore, you will lose the customers who will hear about it and choose to go elsewhere.
Another area of customer relations regards expressed employee behavior towards customers. You and your employees are the faces of your bookshop. If you and your employees are not trained well in customer service, conflict resolution, communication, and compromise, then you could lose customers. Consequently, the great customers that started out with your bookshop could also speak to others of this deficiency and discourage potential customers from visiting your bookshop. Sadly enough, there are many business owners and managers who don’t learn of such matters until their shop diminishes to a trickle or “dead” walk-in traffic on any given workday.
Customer Relations begins with You
The best way to maintain and improve good customer relations is to observe yourself. You have to begin by examining yourself and inquiring from others as to how you approach and attend to customers. You have to be willing to listen to constructive critiques, but also be willing to try different manners to resolve or improve in the areas of deficiency. You can start by asking people of confidence to help you with this project. You can also use personality and skills inventories. Once you feel you have begun to observe changes in your customer relations, self-monitor them for consistency and things will begin to be more natural in your expressed behavior. You are now ready to begin to work with your employees and have them do the same thing for a few weeks. Once they too are comfortable, do a group session where all of your employees share their personal findings and are provided feedback by their fellow co-workers. This process takes time to do, but it will also help you learn more about your employees, such as who are the hard workers, the leaders, and willing to help others as well. It will also help you observe the strength of your employees and use that strength to improve the services that are provided by your bookshop for your target customers.
In closing, excellent customer service goes beyond salutations. Excellent customer service entails practicing the facets of customer engagement and customer relations at both the external and internal levels of a business. It is important to learn about them and develop the necessary skills to put them into practice with customers and provide excellent customer service.
© copyright 2005 - 2022;
R. A. Gómez