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Improving customer retention with customer service

Every business knows it is easier to keep an existing client happy than it is to find a new client. However, many businesses miss the mark when it comes to customer retention. One of the most powerful, easiest, and least expensive tools you can use for customer retention is that of good customer service. Customers want to feel valued, they love things like reward programs and coupons, but when it comes down to it, they prefer to be treated with courtesy.

If you want to keep your existing customers, and hopefully gain new customers through existing customers, via word of mouth, etc. then showing respect, politeness, and courtesy should be at the top of your company priority list. Here are a few of the things your employees should be doing each and every time they have contact with a customer, whether in person, via phone, etc.

1. Smile. A smile can go a long way to making a customer feel at ease and appreciated. It only takes a moment, rarely costs much effort, and conveys a wealth of meaning including appreciation. When an employee smiles at a customer, they become much more approachable, and they are telling the customer that they have time for them. It is a great first step.
2. Tone of voice. Did you know that one unkind word can do more damage than ten nice words can do good? An employee in a bad mood, or someone treating a customer rudely can significantly damage customer retention. No one wants to be treated badly. In fact, nine times out of ten, if a customer comes into a store and is treated poorly, they will go out of their way next time to go somewhere else rather than repeat the experience. So, training employees on how to talk to customers and the tone of voice to use can make a huge difference. If an employee is having a bad day, send them home, or send them to the back where they won't be dealing with customers, rather than risk having them speak unkindly, shortly, or rudely to one of your existing customers. When someone is treated rudely or with disrespect, they tell other people. Negative word of mouth is not what you want.
3. Politeness! It is amazing how a little big of politeness can go a long way to making a customer feel valued, and thus continue patronizing your establishment. Train employees to be friendly, to be helpful, and to always be polite, even when the customer's actions do not deserve that as a response. If customer service becomes your number one goal, customer retention will be the number one bi-product.

It is great to add other things in to help retain customers, such as reward programs, customer appreciation days, etc. However, the cheapest and easiest way to keep customers happy is to show them through your actions that you value them.

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