10 Simple Strategies for Outstanding Customer Service

I remember very clearly the first time I really understood the importance of customer service.

We were still a young company when floods hit Chicago back in 2010. All of our teams stayed busy, but my employees were especially concerned about an elderly client.

The torrential rains had completely flooded his home and washed away his garden out back. His late wife had planted it with beautiful, yellow flowers, and he was so sad to see them all gone.

Several days after completing the flood damage restoration job, my technicians visited him again. They replanted his lost garden with fresh, yellow flowers. I didn't know that they had planned on doing this, but they were so happy when they returned to our headquarters and shared their experiences.

The gentleman had been moved to tears, and we were too when we heard about this wonderful act of kindness.

Setting the Standard for Customer Service

I knew that providing the best possible customer service was important to business success, but I realized that my caring employees had set a special standard.

They inspired me to add an Act of Kindness policy to our employee handbook, and it's a very important part of our company's culture.

Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we back up that policy with 10 simple strategies to make sure that our clients always receive outstanding customer service.

1. Define Your Brand

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Determine what makes your business unique and how you can translate your products or services into a better customer experience.

Use that edge to deliver a level of client care that sets you apart from the competition.

Happy customers are repeat customers because they know that they can trust your brand.

2. Hire Employees Who Care

I hire people who take real pride in their work.

My employees are the face of my company, and they often help our clients through very difficult situations. I value their ability to really connect and make a difference.

They understand that we have our jobs because of our customers.

3. Address Your Online Presence

Keep up with your company's online presence by responding to review sites.

This shows that you really care about your customers' experiences. It also gives you a platform to politely answer the large percentage of people who post negative comments when they're unhappy with customer service.

4. Don't Assume Anything

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Don't assume that customers are happy after a job or sale.

Follow up with a phone call or an email.

When a client is especially pleased with a project, I ask if he would mind leaving my employees a positive review online. Most people are happy to share great customer service experiences.

5. Listen to Your Customers

We get to know our customers by name and make the effort to understand their individual needs.

This helps us serve them better, and they appreciate knowing that we care enough to listen even when they're unhappy.

Let clients know that you hear what they're saying.

6. Develop a Resolution Process

Your employees are an excellent resource for identifying how to resolve problems with dissatisfied customers.

Start with brainstorming sessions, formalize your ideas into steps for dealing with complaints, and incorporate a formal resolution process into your employee manual.

7. Never Let It Get Personal

U.S. businesses lose more than $80 billion every year because of poor customer service.

The only way to combat that statistic is to do a good job when things go bad.

It can be challenging to deal with a complaint that you know is unfair. Rely on your resolution process, and never let it get personal.

8. Always Be Available

My company provides fire and flood damage restoration services 24/7, but not all businesses can keep our hours. Still, it's important to give clients dependable lines of communication.

Post solid contact information on your website, and regularly check and respond to emails and voice mails.

9. Keep Your Promises

You can't promise one thing, deliver another and expect that customers won't notice.

You have to exceed their expectations for outstanding client care. They vote with their pocketbooks, and 78 percent walk away from businesses that provide poor customer service.

10. Go the Extra Mile

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I oftentimes finish projects by sending handwritten notes to clients thanking them for their business. I let them know that we're always here for them.

Not many companies do this anymore, but I believe that it shows our company's willingness to go the extra mile.

As a customer service strategy, I know that it pays off. It's always satisfying to hear back from clients who appreciate this extra effort.

Enjoy the Rewards

On a personal level, providing outstanding customer service is a rewarding experience. As a business strategy, it makes all the difference in achieving long-term success.

It's a team effort, and I'm fortunate to have a very dedicated group of employees on my side every day.

We help people deal with difficult situations. Our customers value our hard work, but they also appreciate our real concerns for their welfare.

Our teams here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba do more than restore their property. We restore their peace of mind, and that defines our special brand of customer service.