Mary Cervantes

Mary Cervantes is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register.

J.L. Sousa/Register

Excellent customer service is the lifeblood of any business.

With summer coming and tourism in Napa Valley steadily increasing, good customer service is essential to creating a memorable experience for visitors and building repeat customers.

The definition of hospitality is friendly, welcoming, and generous treatment offered to guests or strangers. Summer time is here and guests are on their way!

Is your business ready to offer excellent customer service?

Here are a few tips:

Make sure your employees understand your expectations when it comes to customer service.

Use elements of customer service in creating job descriptions and in developing your customer service action plan.

During interviews look for attributes that will help the applicant be successful in delivering good customer service. After training your employees, reinforce and role model good customer service attributes.

Ensure excellence is praised and rewarded. Employees who do not deliver good service should receive training and coaching to improve.

Ensure your operations support good customer service.

A great, well mannered employee can’t save you if the floors are dirty, the goods are faulty, or the service is slow.

Regularly appraise your business from the customer’s perspective. Sit on the “other side of the counter” or put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Have your employees do this as well to get their perspective and expand their own customer service skills.

Train employees in customer problem resolution and empower employees to act immediately to resolve customer issues.

This is an area that ranks highest among consumers when rating customer service, and where businesses are most likely to fail.

Develop a process for resolving customer complaints that clearly demonstrates this commitment. Empower your employees to go the extra mile to resolve customer complaints.

Talk and listen to your customers.

Call after a transaction and ask customers what they liked and what they feel could be improved. This is a start to building the customer relationship. Listen carefully to needs your company can satisfy.

Your goal is to make your customers so happy with your business they go to Twitter and Facebook to share their experience to their family and friends. The biggest mistake any business owner can make is assuming they know what the customer wants.

Above all, treat your staff like you would your customers.

If you treat your staff the way you’d like them to treat your customers, they’ll pass it on to everyone who enters your business.

Successful businesses view delivering good customer service as a continuing improvement process.

Good managers consistently review all facets of customer interactions, and use what they learn to refine and improve how they do business and deliver on their promise of good customer service.

Companies that have a higher level of customer loyalty regularly spend more time and resources training their employees in customer service techniques.

Napa Valley College is in the business of helping your staff deliver excellent customer service.

Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center Business Advisors at Napa Valley College are available to businesses seeking customer service training for their employees.

For more information contact Valerie Bible at (707) 256-7250 or go to napasonomasbdc.org to request services.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or mcervantes@napavalley.edu

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