Top Customer Service Do’s and Don’ts for the Vendor
As a vendor with a now firmly established business, you should be nothing but proud of the hard work that you have put in to securing some well-performing locations for your machines. That hard work should now be paying off in the returns but it doesn’t and must not end there. Your focus now should be making sure that you can maintain those locations and continue to see good sales from them. The most important factor involved in doing this has to be good customer service!
It is a fairly moot point that poor customer service is common these days and is one of the most frequent complaints about many companies. So how can you ensure that as a vending business, you will stand above the competition? Accepting that for the most part, your customers are represented by the venues where your vending machines are placed, here are some top do’s and don’ts for you to follow.
The longer you leave it before your respond to any message or email, the worse you and your business will be perceived. Not responding within an acceptable time says to the customer that you don’t really care. Consider this: if it seems that you don’t care about them, why should they care about your machine? Not only this, but if there is a technical issue with your machine, you are not only losing sales but also repeat business!
There is nothing more frustrating as a customer than to feel that they are “just a number”. We are all human and have some basic but natural expectations and one of those is to be treated fairly and respectfully. If don’t listen to your customer, how can they possibly expect them to feel that you can resolve their issue?
So you have responded quickly, you have given the customer time to explain the problem, now you need to act. Tell them when you will be out to see them (and not in a week’s time when you are due to be back in their area – make it within 24 hours or as soon as you can get there!) and stick to it. This shows that you and your company are reliable and trust worthy.
Regardless of how angry or difficult the customer is being, they are still your customer so always remember to apologise for any inconvenience and THANK them for their business. If you have managed to resolve the problem and have been courteous throughout, they will continue to be your customer.
Go the extra mile
Sometimes, going that little bit further to ensure that a customer is happy and looked after makes all the difference. For example: the manager of one of your sites has called you in the evening and told you that your machine has stopped working and they have an important event starting the next morning. After a long day, you probably don’t feel like going back out but by going out of your way to attend to the issue there and then speaks volumes and creates some extra gold stars for your company’s reputation.
Break your promises
For your customer to have faith in you and your company, they need to feel that they can trust you to do what is required. That faith is easily destroyed if you don’t follow through on your promises. If you promise on your website or business card a 24 hour response time, respond within 24 hours! If the customer is still waiting after 3 days with no contact from you, they are going to think twice about continuing to have your machine on their premises. In fact, during that time they may have started looking around at alternatives.
Make it difficult to contact you
Ever had a problem with a company and not been able to find the right contact details? How frustrated have you felt having to do search after search, sifting through websites or calling numbers that are never answered or allow you to leave a message? Annoying, right? So don’t let yourself be one of those companies. Always display your contact details on your machines and make sure that you answer the calls and respond to voicemails. It is quite easy to have a dedicated service number at little cost by buying a cheap mobile phone – your voicemail message should be relevant, professional, polite and clear.
Leave a problem unresolved
Not every problem is as easy to resolve as we would like but that is no reason to gloss over it. Problem solving can be a valuable learning process so if you don’t know the answer, find one!
A problem that is left unaddressed will very likely get worse at considerable cost to you and your customer!
Respond negatively to complaints
We all know that the customer is not always right BUT the important point is to make them feel that they are being respected and listened to. Frustrated people can be irate and difficult, so you need to patient and take your time to take on board what they are saying and respond professionally. It is perfectly human to want to respond negatively to unreasonable people but fighting fire with fire won’t help. You never know – you could even come out the other side with a thank you and commendation from them!
Perhaps the most important “don’t” for any vending business is to neglect your sites. Regardless of how much business they bring, each of your customers need to feel that they are as important as the next. Not visiting regularly and leaving your machines running low, unclean and operating inefficiently is the biggest mistake that you can make. The machine looks unattractive, the site owner perceives it as an eyesore and if they aren’t receiving their revenue share regularly or as you originally agreed with them, it won’t be long before they want out. So just because a site isn’t your best performer, not servicing it will still lead to cost and loss of business.
You might say in conclusion then that customer service is as much about caring and making the customers feel cared for as it is about the actual service that you provide. In truth, they go hand in hand and make a very powerful combination.