A Reader’s Question:
What are some ways to keep track of customer birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates? I would like to surprise my best customers with a card or complimentary product to celebrate special events, but I haven’t found an efficient system for reminders.
A Reader’s Response:
Use the website birthdayalarm.com. You have to do the initial work and load those dates into the system. However, there is no cost, and the site sends you a reminder of upcoming events.
—Anne Stock, Customer Service Manager – Special Projects, Del Monte Foods
Seemingly minor gestures like sending cards for birthdays or anniversaries can go a long way toward building and maintaining long-term relationships with customers.
We use a follow-up feature built into our proprietary database for reminders about important customer dates. If you don’t have access to such a system, reminders could be entered into any calendar software such as Outlook. Insert special dates in a different color to ensure they are noticed among appointments and other reminders.
Other options are “cloud-based” offerings from Google or Windows Live, both of which can accommodate multiple calendars. Those calendars can be shared by multiple users and hidden or displayed as necessary. Minimize the amount of information you enter. For example, “Jim @ XYZ – birthday” as opposed to including detailed contact information that can be pulled from a secure database when reminders pop-up.
—Scott Riggs, Manager – Consumer Services, Sloan Flushmate
Response from the Editors:
Use these ideas to make recognizing customers’ special dates a breeze
- Identify a system that works for you. Don’t feel pressure to use electronic systems if you still prefer a paper calendar. As long as you commit to checking it daily, a traditional calendar may suit your work style or comfort level.
- Keep an assortment of greeting cards at your workspace. When customers mention a birthday or other noteworthy event, fill out a card on the spot and send it out in that day’s mail.
- Go above and beyond. If a customer shares a child’s or spouse’s birthday, maintain that information in your records. When the special day is drawing near, send the customer a friendly note with gift suggestions from your organization’s products or services.
Quote of the Week:
“Every great business is built on friendship.”
Tip of the Week:
Make amends for poor service
Your co-worker had a bad day and acted rudely or refused to assist a customer. Now that customer has come to you to complain. Regain the customer’s trust by remembering four simple rules:
- Listen carefully. Allow the customer to vent about the bad experience.
- Apologize. Even if you had no part in the poor service delivery, offer your regrets for the customer’s inconvenience.
- Offer assistance. Assure the customer that you will take action to repair the damage. Consult with your manager if you have to offer special assistance or bend the rules to accommodate the customer. Tip: If you put the customer on hold or leave to talk with your manager, tell the customer how long you will be gone. You will aggravate the situation if the customer feels abandoned.
- Don’t mention your co-worker—either to put down that person’s actions or to make excuses. Example: “I apologize for the problems you’ve had today. I hope to make it right. What can I do for you?”
—From the editors.
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Each issue of the First-Rate Customer Service Forum offers you tips for improving your customer service skills. Plus, you have the opportunity to request advice on your most vexing customer service problems—and receive feedback from your peers and our panel of editors!