Do you want to make sure your small business is a total success?
You’ll obviously need to offer excellent products or services that people want. You’ll also need to offer hours that will make it convenient for your customers to stop by or call you when they want to take advantage of whatever it is you’re selling.
But the thing you might need the most is a sound strategy for communicating with customers effectively. Without great communication skills, your small business is likely going to come up short.
If you want to ensure you’re communicating with customers as effectively as you can, there are some steps you should follow. Here are 8 secrets to successfully communicating with customers.
1. Actively Listen to Customers When They Contact You
Listening is, in theory, such a simple skill. It involves paying attention to what a person is saying when they’re speaking and showing them the respect they deserve.
Yet, you might be surprised by how many small business owners fail to practice good listening habits when communicating with customers.
It’s kind of hard to blame them. They do, after all, have a million and one things going on at any given moment. So it’s easy for them to fall into the trap of half-listening to a customer on the phone while working on the computer on something else.
But if you want to communicate effectively with customers, it starts with actively listening to them. Learn to stop everything else you’re doing and commit to listening to customers when they contact you.
2. Avoid Interrupting Customers When They’re Speaking
When a customer is in the process of explaining a problem they’re having to you, you might be tempted to cut them off and try to solve the problem before they’re finished.
In some cases, you might solve the problem successfully without further explanation. But in others, you can make the situation worse by interrupting a customer who hasn’t explained their problem fully.
You can also make the customer feel like you don’t care about everything they have to say. It’s why you should allow customers to continue talking to you until they’re done before you step up and speak.
3. Say Please and Thank You and Show Courtesy to Customers
Some psychologists have made the argument that there are people who say “please” and “thank you” way too much these days. According to these psychologists, people say these things so much that they have actually lost their meaning when people use them.
That might be true in the real world. But it’s not true in the business world. You can never be too kind or too courteous to a customer.
If you need information from a customer to look something up, say “please” before you request it from them. If a customer purchases something from you, say “thank you” before they leave your store or get off the phone with you.
It’s a simple way to let your customers know that you respect and appreciate them.
4. Speak to Customers in Simple Terms
Your small business operates in a specific industry, and there are likely industry-specific terms that you use when you’re speaking with other people who own businesses like yours.
It’s fine to use those terms when talking to people who understand them. But many of your customers might not be familiar with them. Even if they love your products or services, those terms could very well confuse them and even make them feel dumb.
Save these terms for your conversations with those in your industry. Speak in much simpler terms when talking to your customers so that you know they understand what you’re talking about.
5. Keep Conversations With Customers Positive
The way you choose to phrase certain things when speaking with customers can result in your conversations being either positive or negative.
For example, let’s say you run a small auto dealership and someone is interested in buying a car from you. But before you can complete the deal, you know you need to run the person’s credit to make sure they’re qualified to buy the car.
There is a way to request their permission to run their credit in a positive way and a way to do it in a negative way. The two ways look like this:
- Positive: “I think I can get you a great interest rate on this car if I’m able to run your credit”
- Negative: “I’m not going to be able to get you the deal you want unless you let me run your credit”
If you make the positive statement, you’ll make your customer feel like you’re working on their behalf. If you make the negative one, you’ll make them feel like they’re preventing you from doing what you have to do.
Customers will respond better to positivity than they will to negativity.
6. Make Sure You’re Always Available to Take Calls From Customers
When your small business is still very small, you might be able to take calls from customers directly. You also might be able to offer your cell phone number to them if they ever have a question outside of normal business hours.
As your business grows, those things won’t be possible anymore. Therefore, you should consider investing in a call answering service to allow your customers to contact your business at any time.
Check out pricing for call centers today to see how affordable it is.
7. Offer Additional Help to Customers at the End of Every Interaction
You never, ever, ever want to make it seem like your customers are inconveniencing you. In fact, if anything, you want to make it seem like you have all the time in the world to field questions and concerns from them (even though, let’s face it, you don’t!).
End every interaction with a customer by asking if there’s anything else you can help them with. More often than not, people will respond by saying, “No, thank you!”
But it’s worth your time to tell them that you wouldn’t mind speaking to them further.
8. Make Customers Feel Like They Matter
At the end of the day, you want your customers to feel like they really matter to you when you’re finished talking to them.
Customers are more likely to come back to your business in the future if you make them feel important. So go above and beyond when communicating with customers to show that you value them choosing your business over all the rest.
Why Communicating With Customers Effectively Is So Vital
No matter how awesome the product or service that you sell is, people aren’t going to buy into your business if you’re a bad communicator.
Make communication more of a priority today, and you’ll see the results of it in no time. Whether that means improving your own communication skills or hiring a call answering service to get the job done, it’ll be worth the investment on your part.
Check out our blog for more tips on communicating with customers.