You may have all the awards and accolades and even know your product better than anyone in your industry. But in today’s impersonal world, that’s not enough. Those who provide extraordinary service are the ones who will attract more customers, close more deals and get ahead of competitors.
Jacqueline Whitmore, a business etiquette expert and the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals, says a dissatisfied customer can cost your business more than revenue—it can damage your reputation.
Here are Whitmore’s six simple principles to keep ’em happy and coming back.
• Keep your word. Your ability to deliver on your promises is crucial to your credibility.
• Be honest. If you intentionally lie, misstate or misrepresent yourself, your products or your services, your credibility will take a major hit. Foster a reputation for honesty with customers.
• Show up on time. Punctuality is a reflection of your overall organization. Aim to arrive early. If you will be late, call ahead and let your client know when you expect to arrive.
• Acknowledge mistakes. Generally clients will be flexible if you quickly acknowledge an error, apologize and work to rectify the situation. Don’t make excuses or blame others. Instead, take responsibility, find the solution and start moving forward again.
• Handle conflicts gracefully. If a client, partner or employee tests your patience, questions your authority, or criticizes your work, don’t react with hostility. Even if you are boiling inside, keep it under wraps. Maintain a calm disposition and stay on topic.
• Don’t burn bridges. When you or your business is threatened, your first reaction may be an emotional one. If you need a few minutes to cool down, walk away and return to the conversation later. Today’s foe could be tomorrow’s ally.
This article appears in the December 2015 issue of SUCCESS magazine.