Our customer is the boss of us. They determine our profits and how much sales we bring into our business, and that’s the reason customer service is so important.
Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met.
Small businesses can learn a lot from luxury brands about customer service.
So, why might a small business owner want to take a page from the luxury brand book when it comes to customer service in their own stores?
One of the main reasons is that you will build better relationships with customers that result in greater brand loyalty, repeat sales, and lower marketing costs. You will also create a workplace which attracts talented people who will represent you, and will stand behind your brand.
Luxury brands have long been looked up to for the quality of their products and how they treat their customers. They serve a demographic that expects nothing but the best.
These brands constantly strive to raise the bar. But luxury-level service doesn’t have to come with products that cost thousands of dollars – you can implement these high-end customer service practices in your own small business.
Brands must become customer-centric, or get left behind.
Small businesses can “bump up” their customer service and pay special attention to the little things that their customers are talking about or asking for.
Burberry realized before its competitors did that today’s luxury customers want to select their items before all the others, and found a very clever way of letting them do it.
Small businesses must look at ways of going the extra mile. If you have a bricks and mortar business, there are many opportunities to connect with your customers especially through social media.
Ideally, the linking of digital channels, social media, online shops, and physical stores should offer a seamless experience.
With social media, businesses can have a two-way communication with their customers. This is another way to go the extra mile and provide superb customer service.
Empower your Employees
Many businesses are not empowering their employees to make decisions. Most companies require a manager to sign off on basic exchanges. They should empower their employees to be able to make some of these decisions on their own.
Nordstrom is a brand that prides itself on customer service. Their service comes primarily fromtheir attention to detail when it comes to the customer experience and secondly, the level to which they empower their employees.
They empower employees to make small decisions, which can lead to big results. The Ritz gives employees in their service operation the authority to spend $2500 on the spot to resolve guest’s concerns.
A small business owner may not be able to afford $2500 discretionary income on customers, however they can set a limit of at least $50 per employee. Employees should be able to solve immediate customer issues within $50 to $100 range.
Go the Extra Mile
One example would be the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The founder Cesar Ritz says that “You never say no when a client asks for something, even if they ask for the moon. You can always try.”
The Ritz use “Three Steps of Service” to set a high standard for quality service. Employees are required to:
- Use the guests name
- Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s need
- A fond warm farewell- and use the guests name.
Using clients name is a great way to incorporate customer service. Starbucks is known for this. The reason this works is companies know that the customer’s favourite station is WIIFM-What’s In It For Me.
Using your customer’s name will help you to develop intimate customer relationships.
The Ritz employees have a daily briefing, which is led by a local manager. The day’s incidents and actions are also captured in their systems so that they have record of every guests experience in each day.
They use the information to anticipate and accommodate guest experience for the future.
Small business owners can take time at least once per week to debrief with their employees to find out what the customers needs are. Employees are on the front lines when it comes to customer service. Doing so will give you the opportunity to improve on customer service.
What have you learned from Luxury brands that you can implement in your business? Leave a comment below.