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  • Five Things Customers Should Never Hear

    Thoughtless responses, questionable shop policies, and forgetting that the customer is right are the main reasons for bad customer service.

    Losing even one customer over something that could have easily been remedied is costly for a small business. Most acts of poor customer service are the result of lack of employee training. Even if you have only one employee, that person should be instructed on how to treat customers. Begin by making sure customers never hear these words:

    1. "All sales are final."

    Small businesses can't afford such an inflexible return policy. The message you should be sending to your customers is that you stand behind what you sell and that you want your customers to be satisfied, even if that means returning merchandise and getting their money back.

    2. "We don't offer that."

    This is a statement that creates a dead end and no sale. Never turn away a customer. If you don't have something in stock, suggest something similar that you do have or, if possible, offer to order the item. If neither of these options works for your customer, make a recommendation about where the item or service can be obtained.

    3. "That's against shop policy."

    This statement almost always results in a frustrated customer. No problem is ever solved by this response. Every shop has certain rules that are necessary to keep order and be uniform, but inflexible policies will ultimately distance you from your customers by creating a "you" versus "them" perception. Train your employees to use their common sense to know when shop policy is good for customer service and when it's bad.

    For example, if a customer lights up a cigarette, it's fine to mention that you have a smoke-free shop. However, if a person comes in with a Seeing Eye dog, it's simply unacceptable to point out that you don't allow pets in your shop.

    4. "I don't know and the person who does is at lunch."

    Whoever answers the phone at your shop should know enough about the business to answer customer questions. Develop a "frequently asked questions" list along with the answers and post it near the phone. Add to it, as needed. Brief every new employee on shop policies, products, and services. Be sure there is always someone on the premises who can answer a caller's questions.

    5. "There doesn't seem to be anything wrong to me."

    When a customer lodges a complaint, don't argue or inadvertently question the person's integrity. If the customer thinks the product or service is substandard, offer a replacement or refund. Arguing or trying to convince the customer he/she is wrong is pointless and might cost you that customer's business.

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