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Four Steps for Improving Customer Service

Simple, yet oft-forgotten actions you need to take to keep your customers coming back By Denise Harrison
As editor of KNews, I receive a number of letters from people describing their AV horror stories. I also hear success stories. And the horror and success stories often share the exact same factors. The ones that are successful have been responsive, managed expectations and delivered more than was promised. The dissatisfied customers complain of not being able to get in touch with the company, not knowing what they were getting into before the job started, and feeling they received less than they paid for at the end.

So here are four simple, but vital, steps for improving customer service.


1. Be sure they can reach you or that you can get back to them within an hour. If it's an existing customer, they won't be satisfied with a call returned the next day. If it's a potential customer, you'll give the impression that if you aren't responsive to their inquiry, you won't be responsive during the job.

2. Avoid surprises. This is about communications skills and company policies of detailing the agreement. It's about managing expectations.

I recently received a letter from a reader describing how she hired someone to install a home theater for her. The initial agreement included equipment installation only, then halfway through the job, the customer was informed that she also needed new cabling, so the price was going up. Double, in fact. This just wasn't part of the original agreement and the customer felt ripped off. She ended up splitting the difference with him, but the relationship can't be repaired.

She probably would have been fine had she known all the costs up front.

While managing expectations seems like such a simple guideline (really REALLY basic), it's so often what turns a good customer relationship bad. Be sure you take the time to review everything that will be needed for a job - even project possible cost additions - and communicate those with the customer at a meeting and in writing. At the end, there should be only pleasant surprises (such as hey, we avoided those extra costs!).

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