The Golden Rules of Customer Service Staff

Updated · Apr 11, 2001

by Kristie Tamsevicius

Everything I know about customer service I learned from working at
McDonald's as a teenager. Hard to believe, but true!

In this day of highly competitive cyber business, the companies that will
succeed will be those that offer superior customer service. The value of a
lifetime customer is immeasurable. So once you get a customer, how do you
keep him? The answer is killer customer service! Here are some of
the secrets that have made McDonalds the success it is today!

Service with a Smile

“Hi, Welcome to McDonald's! May I take your
order?” Got a new prospect? Welcome him to your business. Introduce
yourself and tell about your services in e-mail. Let your customers get to
know you. People are more likely to do business with someone they
trust. You can't overstate the importance of building strong customer

Smile when you are talking on the phone. Customers will hear the difference
in your voice. Be careful when you send e-mail. It's easy to be
misunderstood. E-mail lacks the visual and audio cues of face-to-face
communication. You must make an extra effort to ensure that your “tone” is
cheerful and friendly. Also with an e-mail, people expect a quick
reply. A fast, friendly response will let your customers know that you are
working hard to keep them happy!

Suggestive Sell

“Would you like an apple pie with that today?”
When a customer buys a service do you have something complementary that
would add value? Business folks, who are pressed for time, will
value the convenience of one-stop-shopping. Look at your line of products
and think to yourself, “What can I do to make this more useful to my
customers? Is there a helpful article I can send them? Is there a service
that would complement my business's other services?”

Have the Menu in Plain Sight!

“What all comes in the #3 value
meal?” People like to know what to expect when they order from you. They
want to know up front what things cost, how soon to expect it, etc. If a
customer doesn't see this information on your website, he just might
leave. You know how nerve-racking it is buying a car when you don't know
what you are going to pay or if you are getting a good deal! Knowledge of
what to expect takes the fear out of buying.

The Customer is Always Right

“I'm sorry your order was wrong, how
can I make it better?” Nothing is worse than a “screw up” in an
order. The best way to turn a negative into a positive is to go out of
your way to make it right and make that customer feel satisfied with the
results. After you make it right, apologize for the screw-up sincerely,
and offer an incentive for him to try you again–for example, a discount on
future service. Everyone knows one complaint will scream louder than 30

Make sure to answer ALL complaints. Don't give anyone a reason to leave
and say that his or her needs were not met. You can learn a LOT from your
customers. Make sure to LISTEN. Other customers may be experiencing the
same problem. Learn from your mistakes.

List your phone number on your web site. An angry customer wants to know
that his complaint is being heard NOW! Sending an e-mail response from the
customer service department within 24 hours might not cut it!

Q.S.C. Quality, Service, and Cleanliness

Quality–Is there any
way you could improve your service? Do you set a level of excellence for
your products and services that you meet or beat? Service–Do you make
your customers feel like they are number one in your book? Do you listen
to customer needs and fill them? Cleanliness–Does the atmosphere of your
virtual business make customers happy and want to come back? Is your website
visitor-friendly? Is your website easy to navigate? Does it load

Brand Awareness/Corporate Identity

Is your URL as memorable as
those famous golden arches? Many visitors find your site not by clicking,
but by remembering your URL. Is your URL on business cards and
stationery? Is it listed in your yellow pages ad? Keep your URL short and
simple: long URL's with hyphens, punctuation, or ones that are hard to
spell won't give customers a fighting chance. Include your company's URL
and other contact information in your email signature. Does your secretary
know your URL? The answer may surprise you!

What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)?

“We've got the best
fries in town!” Tell customers right on your home page why they should do
business with you and not the guy down the cyberstreet. Tell your visitors
in one short sentence who you are, what you do, and why you are
better. Will you save them money? Can they rely on your experience? Try
to list these in terms of benefit to them, and NOT features of your product.

Customer Appreciation

“Thank you and come again!” Thank your
customers for doing business with you. Send them an e-mail as a follow up to
see if your product or service was what they expected. Would they recommend
you to a friend? How about a hand-written note or card to tell someone
that you value his or her business.

There is a lot to be said for good old-fashioned customer service. Treat
your customers like gold and they'll be customers for life. The most
powerful tool in your marketing arsenal is a customer referral. Give your
customers a reason to brag about you and you'll have a lot of customers
knocking at your door!

Reprinted from InternetDay

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