We hear it all the time from all kinds of businesses:  “We value our customers.”  “We offer the best in customer service.”  “Our customers are number ONE!”  Yes, we hear it; we see it in their ads.  But a lot of times, the businesses that yell the loudest about how much they love their customers are the very ones that wallow in mediocre customer service.

Maybe the problem is these businesses don’t recognize good customer service because they don’t receive it themselves.  Customer service is a two-way street.  When you experience it, you want to make sure you deliver it to your customers, too.  Not to mention, it’s easier to deliver it because your business is more efficient.  But when you don’t get it, you might not be able to grasp the value of it.

Let’s start by thinking about what makes good service.  It might be obvious, but we’ll say it:  it’s all about the customer.

Putting the Customer at the Center of Everything

If you see customers only as potential checks coming in the mail, they’ll sense it.  But if you see them as partners you can serve, that will help you build a solid foundation of trust. It will start a service cycle:  You’ll add value for your customers, helping them serve their customers better and that will increase the likelihood of repeat business.

Because of these relationships you build, you will look for ways to serve your clients better.  Not everyone is the same, and no one likes to be viewed as “just another customer.”  Treat them as individuals and make them feel appreciated.

Listening to Learn

Listening to your customers is one of the most important things you can do to serve them.  You get a glimpse of their world, so you can find out what they really need.  Beyond that, you can develop empathy and see what your customers wish they had to make their jobs easier. They’ll even begin to trust you enough to reveal those wretched processes they wish could do away with forever.

Easy Does It

Hand-in-hand with listening is working to make things easier for your customers.  When they have questions, need service or maybe even want to make a purchase, you have to make everything simple.

Don’t resolve only the current issue; look for tipoffs of what might be the next one and tackle it too.  Keep them sailing as smoothly as possible.  Then think even bigger:  what are “next steps” they could take to make things easier for the longer term?

What Is “above and beyond?”

Think about the last time a business knocked your socks off.  What did they do?  Hustle like crazy?  Listen to your request and bend over backward to make it happen?  Make you feel like you were their only or most important customer?

Apply that same principle to how you serve your customers.  What can you do to differentiate yourself from your competition?  The key is to give customers more than they expect.  Surprise them with your appreciation.  Go out of your way to leave no doubt they are valued.

What Goes around Comes around…

As we said right off the bat:  When you receive good customer service, it’s easier to give good customer service.  Doing business is not about selling as much as you can just to get a fat check.  It’s not about showing off bells and whistles that a customer may not need or ever use.  Instead, it’s about becoming a trusted partner who knows the customers’ needs and can not only fill them, but anticipate them.  When you have a partner that understands your business, it is so much easier to serve your customers with that same level of service.

Putting superior hardware and software in place to keep your customers moving through your grain business – so they can go back for that next load – is a smart way to serve them.  If issues arise, you need to know you can trust your partner, Cultura Technologies, to get you back on track as soon as possible, so your customers aren’t inconvenienced.  Watch for our blogs on customer service, and join us for our Grains and Oilseeds Customer Conference this month.