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Poor customer care can have a debilitating effect on a business.
Research suggests that the average person who has a bad experience with a business tells at least nine other people about it, and that 13% of dissatisfied companies relate their experience to more than 20 other people.
And while customers are increasingly sensitive to issues of speed and efficiency of service - and have no qualms about switching their patronage to another company - most are willing to stay loyal to the people they enjoy doing business with.
A priority for effective customer care, therefore, is to demonstrate a positive, efficient, and helpful outlook that acknowledges that the customer really does come first.
Treat customers in the same way that you would want to be treated if you were paying for your products or services.
If a customer is aggressive, show humility rather than falling into the trap of reciprocating hostility.
Act on the basis of what can be done to improve relations.
Remarks that reassure the customer need to show a genuine intent to effect change - glib assurances are easily spotted and can infuriate. If necessary explain complications or faults if it serves to pacify the customer.
Don't force customers to take a 'journey around the houses' before they can get the help they are seeking. If a member of staff is unavailable, take a message rather than keep the customer waiting while you search for someone who can help them.
Every employee should be able to answer customer enquiries outside their area of responsibility. Could every member of your team help a caller in the absence of the employee who normally deals with that subject?
Customers want to know that someone is taking responsibility for errors, and will act accordingly to correct them. Where possible, inform the customer which members of staff will be working to resolve their problem satisfactorily.