By Tom Borg, entrepreneur.com
Research I read more a decade ago about Delta Airlines showed that among the many things that people want to know about the individuals in business who serve them, four items consistently remain at the top of the list.
Customers want to know the answers to the following four questions:
1. Do you like me?
Customers want to know if they are sincerely liked by the people serving them. People can discern this from how representatives interact with them. Do employees use their name? Do they really listen? And do their voices demonstrate sincere empathy?
2. Do you care about me?
And consumer also try to figure out if those serving them really care about the clients. Customers can sense this from the questions asked, the tone of voice, amount of eye contact, how helpful staffers are and whether they say or do things that show caring.
3. Can I trust you?
Consumers try to discern if the employees serving them can be trusted. Indications of trust can be seen in how confident representatives are and if they follow through as promised.
A company can lose the consumers' trust with delays in responding to a phone call or email. When a long time elapses after a customer's contact with a small business and the follow-up or lack thereof, trust erodes rapidly. A good guideline is to have all phone calls and emails returned in 24 hours or less.
4. Do you know what you are talking about?
People try to figure out if the employees serving them are knowledgeable and competent. Clues can be found in how familiar employees are with a particular situation customers are experiencing or the product or service they are purchasing.
Customers want to know if employees have solved similar types of problems for other clients in the past. If they have, this builds confidence during the buying experience.
So to build lifetime customer satisfaction, provide staff the right kind of training in customer service skills. Empower all managers and staff to treat customers in a way that consistently answers these four common questions consumers have about a small business.