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100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

Quality Insider

Always Have a Back-Up Plan

Superior customer service means thinking ahead and offering options

Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - 05:30

If you’re like most people, you probably plan out a good portion of your day-to-day activities. Even in our off time, we generally make plans to go on vacation, to the movies, and out to dinner; it’s not often that we simply “wing it.” So why would you do so at work? Like the late actor Dennis Hopper always said in those television commercials, “You gotta have a plan!”  Following are two great ways to be prepared.

Always have a back-up plan

The unexpected happens far more often than you might think, so plan for the unexpected. Contingency plans are like the fire drills you remember from elementary school: You practice them and work out different scenarios in preparation for plan B.

Pay attention to the back-up plans your employer already has in place. If you work in retail, chances are there are several contingency plans for ringing up transactions, covering shifts, ordering, bookkeeping, and stocking the back room.

In a service-related industry, customers do not care about the equipment necessary to complete the task. They care only that the task is completed and the service is rendered. It is your responsibility to have contingency plans in place. If your equipment fails, you should have backup equipment readily available to minimize the disruption of service.

Whether you deal with curve balls customers throw at you, changing conditions in the service industry, or the multitude of scenarios that can play themselves out, you need a fully developed back-up plan ready for implementation.

Offer options

Customers appreciate knowing the options that are available to them. You can communicate with them verbally, via literature, or even by displaying products. Whether their purchases are motivated by price, quality, workmanship, service, or demand, most consumers will appreciate knowing the many options available to them.

Customers will trust you to be well-informed and knowledgeable about your products and services. They assume that you have been instructed, educated, or trained to do your job well. Don’t try to fake your way through this. If you do not have the information your customer needs, find someone who does.

Give your customers options. This could include detailed consumer information about a product or even letting them know how a similar product might be better for their needs. You can do this only by taking it upon yourself to know the products and services sold by your business and its suppliers.

Offer sound options to your customers. They will appreciate your helpfulness and remember the person who assisted them to make the best decision.

Having back-up plans help you look and stay prepared. Offering options to your customers are the plan Bs they are hoping for. By thinking ahead and anticipating various scenarios, you can be prepared to face many challenges at work.

Next week I’ll show how some personal decisions you make at work can work against you.

Discuss

About The Author

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams’s picture

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

For more than 20 years, Larry Williams has been a respected public speaker, journalist, and business entrepreneur. He is recognized and awarded for his business professionalism, community service, and national involvement in a very high-profile child abduction case. Through his leadership, educational offerings, and public speaking, Larry Williams has set a standard for customer service that is recognized and emulated regionally and nationally; and he “tells it like it is” in his book, Customer Service A to Z.