1. Some customers are people who are in desperate need. They have problems. They are stressed. And as such, they aren’t always thinking clearly or rationally. If your business serves customers in need, treat them like human beings. Recognize they have a lot on their mind. Treating them with respect does two things: One, they will remember you and how you treated them right. They will tell others about you. Two, treating them respectfully will get them to be better, more responsive customers. As in, paying bills on time, or getting paperwork in on time, etc…
2. They are not experts. Don’t make any assumptions that they know what you think they should know. A big part of what you do is education. Help them learn, it makes for a deeper relationship.
3. They are busy people. They have crazy lives. Mortgages to pay. Children to care for. Work to do. Groceries to buy. Baseball practice to get kids too. Customers have the same burdens you do – so remember that.
4. Just because they say I “understand” and I will get right on it, they probably won’t. You need to be patient and teach them what they need to know. Guide them. Help them. Encourage them. It takes time. In the end, they will be better customers, and you will be serving them better.
5. A customer who makes A LOT of noise about a bad experience is generally got problems on their own. The world recognizes that too, and won’t always hold you accountable. Just be patient, deal with the problem, sincerely try to fix it, be responsive, and move on. One loud customer (who is probably having a bad day) won’t ruin your business…
6. Customers expect you to keep your promises and deadlines. Customers don’t always meet your deadlines. But not because they are bad people, it is because they have life going on. Be patient and help them along as best you can.
7. Big ticket purchases are scary. Customers don’t always move at the pace we want on expensive deals. I catch myself all the time frustrated that a prospect isn’t making a faster buying decision. Especially when I realize I am the same way. Make them feel good about the purchase, if it is the right move for both of you, the deal will happen.
8. Although customers often try to communicate that they have knowledge and understanding of what you are bringing to the table, remember this: they need – want – expect your counsel and instruction. Give it.
9. Do not be afraid to speak your mind when your customer is going down the wrong path. Handle that communication respectfully, obviously, but at least make the attempt to communicate that you think there is a better way. You owe them that. If they don’t like it, they probably are not a good fit for you and your business…
10. It is ALL about trust. The customer is trusting you to help them, provide good service, reliable products, problem solving when necessary, being there when needed. You trust your customer to pay you on time, do the things you need, provide the information you need to make the best decisions, and execute on things you ask them to do and they agree to do. Without trust, the customer relationship will not work, both personally or monetarily.
What do you think? What else am I missing here?
[cartoon by @gapingvoid]