#BlackBizMatters: How to Up Your Customer Service

It is our duty to raise the standard to ensure our community is getting quality goods and products and services at every turn

customer service
(Image: iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages)

Business ownership—no matter what the industry—is a competitive landscape. Entrepreneurs are constantly looking to find and solidify that one thing that sets them apart from the rest and assures them repeat and new customers again and again.

For some businesses, it’s the niche product or service being offered that secures their customers. For others, it’s the relationships entrepreneurs have built and their ability to effectively network that keeps the doors open, some business rely on limited alternative options as their saving grace.

In order for any of the business to sustain and thrive, however, there must be a solidified, practiced, and exceptional standard for customer service. This alone can be your business’s deal maker or deal breaker.

When asking friends, family, and colleagues why they may have a sense of hesitation in supporting black business, many site a general lack of good customer service as a reason for opting for another option. It is our social responsibility, as a community, to raise the standard for ourselves as business owners, to ensure our community is getting quality goods and products and services at every turn. Our sustainability relies on it.

Here is how we can do this:

1. Be knowledgeable

Each employee of your company should be fully knowledgeable and eager to share about the products and services that you offer. “I’m not sure” should not be an acceptable response from an employee when asked about a product or service that you promote. If said employee is, in fact, unsure, letting the customer know “I will find out for you” makes them feel well taken care of, even if their immediate need isn’t being met.

2. Be attentive

While working, demand that the needs of the customers are of the utmost importance to you—not your conversation with your colleague or your cell phone. Actively and patiently, listen to what your customers want or need and do everything in your power to provide that. If you can’t provide the particular want or need, be sure to be helpful by offering a sufficient alternative.

3. Always be courteous

Customer interaction while engaging with your company is everything. Think of how your mood changes every time you approach the window at Chick-fil-A. The employees seem happy to see you, which makes you happy to be there. Energies transfer. Start by setting a tone of transferring an upbeat, engaging, and eager to serve energy from the initial “hello” and just watch your return.

4. Read the room.

The importance of emotional intelligence can’t be stressed enough in customer service. Practice recognizing and understanding what a customer may want and/or need from their experience with your business. Listen, read, or look for clues that may reveal their patience level, desires, personality, or mood. Tailor how you serve the customer accordingly.

5. Fake it ‘til you make it.

We’re human. We have our days and our ways—and so do our customers. You’re not expected to always be on the same wavelength, but you are expected to act like it. Pretend an Emmy Award is at stake and smile and be polite through it all.

Any more tips for maintaining stellar customer service that’s not on this list? Share in the comments!