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What building a house taught me about customer service

A new copywriting client recently told me that they’re “loving the way I work”.

She went on to talk about how it’s rare these days to find someone who listens to their customers needs – and delivers. Her feedback gave this little freelance copywriter a much-needed ego boost. I was doing my happy dance. Who doesn’t love great feedback, right?

It also got me thinking about customer service.

We built our house in 2016 and our customer experience has been… well, shit. Building a house is stressful but chuck in crappy customer service and you’ve reached a new level.

It’s reiterated what I loathe about poor customer service. It’s also taught me everything about what I want my customers to experience working with me.

Let’s break this down.

Deliver good customer service for the entire journey

It’s typical in the building industry to have many people involved. Customer service was a priority during sales but left us flat for the rest of our journey.

The poor customer service we experienced during our build left my head spinning. We were getting nowhere with our complaints, so I left a (scathing) review. Finally, the directors of the business have reached out.

The lesson here is to make customer service a priority from the first point of contact and beyond. If you’ve got a team, make sure they’re all on board with an ‘excellence in customer service’ mindset.

You’ll keep customers happy and boost their loyalty. If an issue crops up, they’re more likely to work through it with you before resorting to a negative review that future customers will see.

When it comes to customer service, it’s the little things that matter

I’m BIG on little things. Little touches make a small business stand out from the crowd.

Like walking into a shop that smells amazing, a hairdresser that offers you a glass of bubbles, or an online business that pops a surprise in your order.

Our builder has room for improvement when it comes to the little things. Giving clear instructions on the tricky parking situation would have been a start.  Offering a glass of water during a 3-hour design meeting would have been better.

Little things matter. Map out your customer experience. Then look at the little things you offer your customers during their experience with you. Is there room for improvement?

Customer service should be personal service

When customers feel like they’re getting personal service, they’ll become better customers.

Personal customer service can be the difference between your customer forgetting about you as soon as the transaction is over, and the same person becoming your loyal customer for life.

Our builder was good with this aspect until we reached the build stage. We started getting regular email updates on our build that turned out to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

The information wasn’t tailored and some items weren’t relevant to our build. We spent A LOT of money with this business and they couldn’t give us a personal update on our build. It was insulting and frustrating.

Delivering personal customer service is easy no matter what industry you’re in. 

Three ways to make your customers feel valued:

  • Treat customers as individuals
  • Use names (your name and your customer’s name)
  • Know and acknowledge your customer’s history with your business (have they bought from you before or are they interacting with you on social media).

Valued customers are happy customers. 

Happy customers buy more (and tell their friends) which is great for business.

When customers feel like they’re getting personal service, they’ll become better customers.

Admit when you’ve got it wrong

We’re all human and we make mistakes. If you make a mistake, own it. Admit you got it wrong and work to resolve the issue and repair the customer relationship.

We fought tooth and nail with our builder over some dodgy brickwork. We voiced our concerns on many occasions but they ignored us. We had no option but to take them to the building authority.  In the end, it reflected poorly on the business and damaged our relationship more.

Admitting you’re wrong is uncomfortable. But it’s harder to be angry at someone that says, “I’m sorry, I messed up” than at someone who won’t admit to making a mistake.

Never ignore customer complaints

Customers loathe being ignored. 

In your store, you can’t ignore customers complaining face to face. If you’re an online small business, take the same approach.

People like talking to people. Most angry customers want to be heard.

Pick up the phone and listen to your customer. Even if you can’t solve their problem entirely, you took the time to listen and this goes a long way. Business Queensland (QLD Government) has some great tips for managing complaints – check it out. 

Delivering excellent customer service is great for business

Think back on your own experiences and where you’ve received excellent customer service. How did it make you feel? How did it change the way you interacted with the business?

Delivering excellent customer service and exceeding expectations is great for business. If you’d like to know more about working with me, my copywriting process is a great start. 

How do you deliver excellent customer service? What’s one thing that sets you apart? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to know.

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Hello, I’m Leeha a freelance copywriter and owner of Mind Your Words. I write clever, SEO friendly and engaging content to help small businesses deliver their message, connect with customers and grow. If you’re a small business looking to stand out from the crowd, book me for your next project.

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    Leeha Debnam is a freelance copywriter and owner of Mind Your Words. She writes clever, SEO friendly and engaging content to help small businesses deliver their message, connect with customers and grow.

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