“Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business. Yes, and that is also true if you are a housewife, architect or engineer.” ~Dale Carnegie, Best Selling Author

The last thing a company wants to do is neglect their customers or their employees. Because if that happens regularly, it will be the last thing they do before going out of business.  People in general do not want to be taken advantage of, or feel they are being cheated, ripped off or ignored. It’s the quickest way to lose them.

The lifeblood of any successful organization is to keep your customers coming back, and your employees engaged. Here are a few tips for all your customers, both internal and external.

FOR CUSTOMERS (External Customers)

Build a relationship. Genuinely interact with customers. People tell the world about their experiences and you want to make sure the majority of what people say about you is positive.

Respond quickly to concerns and complaints. Nothing is more frustrating than having to wait for that return phone call or email.

Offer ongoing support. This could be technical or online support. Sometimes it’s just emotional support.

Give them a reason to check back with you. (specials, promotions). Don’t focus on just getting new customers. Many customers dislike it when they see promotions for new customers that don’t apply to existing customers.

Build your social media lists.  Communicate via all avenues if there are changes or issues. (i.e. business is closed, hours are altered, if there is construction near business, etc.) Keep them interested and informed.

Reward loyalty and referrals.  Offer discounts if people spend a certain amount or if other customers or businesses send you referrals. Don’t forget to return the favor.  If a business sends you referrals, see if you can do the same for them. Maybe feature a local business on your website once a month.

FOR EMPLOYEES (Internal Customers)

Praise in public, reprimand in private. This is a pet peeve of mine when I see employees being chastised, lectured or scolded in front of other people. Take it in the back, people.

Get to know a little bit about them. What are their hobbies? What types of movies do they like? When are their birthdays? You do make a big deal about birthdays, don’t you?

Evaluations should never be a surprise. If you are training employees properly, then they should know on a daily, weekly or monthly basis what their strong points are, and what areas they need to improve.  Don’t wait for a yearly evaluation to train. Speaking of which, how about a 3 or 6 month evaluation? Why wait for a full year to pass?

Make meetings fun.  Nothing is worse than going to a meeting that is known to be long and boring.

Encourage continuous education and personal growth. We should never stop learning. Offer in-house trainings, or help pay for higher education.

Depending on the size of your company, buy lunch for everyone once a month.  For a larger company, buy an individual department lunch. Bring in a box of doughnuts one morning. Or for special occasions, think differently.  Hire a masseuse to give 15-minute massages in the break room.

Customer Service is an attitude, not a department.  Everyone should be involved in helping the customer. Make sure all employees are fully trained and understand the importance of servicing the customer.

FOR BOTH

Say thank you.  All the time.  And for good measure, throw in a “please” every once in a while.

Listen.  Have you heard this one before?  This should be #1 on everyone’s list.

Build trust.  If mistakes were made, accept responsibility and make it right. If you promised something to someone, make sure it happens.  It takes time to build trust, and just a few seconds to destroy it.

Treat everyone with dignity and respect.  Isn’t that what we all want out of life?

And remember, happy employees make for happy, returning customers. This is just a starter list.  What are some of the things you are doing to keep your customers and employees loving you? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Paul Rutter is a customer loyalty, repeat business and customer service expert, a keynote speaker, corporate trainer and business author. He has had the unique opportunity to live with his customers and co-workers for months at a time traveling the world, and shares his experiences with land based businesses. For more information on More Than Perfect® Service, contact Paul at Paul@PaulRutterSpeaks.com, follow him on Twitter on @RealPaulRutter or visit him on Facebook/PaulRutterSpeaks.

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