“As long as you show respect for your customers and take care of them, they will respect the fact that you run things on your own terms—and this is the kind of customer that you want.”
Customers are the lifeblood of a business. Everyone knows that no business could exist if it did not take care of them. That being said, managing your customers is just as important as managing your staff, and if you aren’t careful, they can end up causing you unneeded stress and consuming valuable time. Here are a few simple practices that can make your life a lot easier.
Stand by Your Hours of Operation
You do not have to be constantly available to provide good service. It is important to run your business on your own terms, and in fact, you are conveying a sense of reliability and consistency to your customers when you establish a clear scheduling structure. If you are only open from 9 to 5 every day, then stick to it; you do not want to generate any confusion about your operating hours. What happens when you take calls after close one day, and you do not pick up on another day because you are after all, closed? Then, your customers may not know when you are actually open, not to mention that it will encourage even more after-hours calls. Besides this confusion, your workday will begin to cut into your personal time, which is unnecessary—people expect a business to have a defined schedule.
If you do have a business that offers around-the-clock services for special cases, such as a 24-hour plumbing company, or a dental office that allows for emergency procedures, then be sure to communicate special rates, limitations, etc., for this extra service. This is information you can easily include in your call menu. Check out Talkroute’s great features for menu options here: Talkroute Call Menus
Get Rid of Hostile Customers
Your time is valuable. There is no reason that you should use up all your time talking on the phone to people who are hostile, unruly, or who clearly have no intention of becoming your customer. Business owners who offer truly exceptional customer service will be tempted to endure even the worst callers. Without a doubt, it is admirable to provide this level of service; however, you should not feel obligated to tolerate people who are making you or your staff miserable. Be cordial, be polite, and simply send them on their way. There may be exceptions, of course, as in the case of a high-profile customer that you may deem it necessary to tolerate—it is up to you how much you are willing to endure, to secure a client or a sale. Only remember that you are essentially giving them tacit permission to treat you badly, and they will continue to do so if they can get away with it.
Some People Just Like to Talk
In addition to hostile customers, there are also those who just want free information, without any plans to buy from you. Though it is a good thing to provide comprehensive information to potential customers, plenty of other callers will be waiting, who are planning on buying. No self-respecting lawyer would give away free legal advice to someone they know is not going to use their services, and though you don’t have to be as unforgiving as the harsh attorney, you may want to cut someone off if they are always calling and never buying.
Naturally, you do not want to develop a reputation for being a tyrant, but simply to be pragmatic and sensible about your boundaries. Of course the goal is not to alienate your customers, but anyone visiting or calling a business expects it to operate within a reasonable structure. Don’t be afraid to maintain consistent standards. As long as you show respect for your customers and take care of them, they will respect the fact that you run things on your own terms—and this is the kind of customer that you want.
About hanging up on customers, read this post first:
How to Handle Difficult Customers: Know When to Hang Up