‘Customer service’ is one of those overused buzzwords that are bandied about so often that it has all but lost its meaning. Every business owner swears it’s one of their main focus points, every SME’s website copy promises it, and yet, when last did you enjoy a truly impressive service encounter?

Here are a few valuable lessons I’ve learned about customer service in my time as an entrepreneur in the South African context:

Every person you encounter is a potential customer

It doesn’t matter whether you’re meeting someone at a cocktail function, a braai or a big corporate event, they could very well end up being a future customer, so treat them with respect and kindness. The most successful people I know are able to connect with people from all walks of life and willing to engage in meaningful dialogue with everyone they meet despite their perceived stature.

Even ‘no’ is an answer

To all the marketing managers out there – I know your inbox is a nightmare; I realise you have marketing proposals and collaboration offers coming out of your ears, but please, take the time to respond to those mails. Even a stock standard ‘’Thank you for your interest, but we are considering any further marketing opportunities at this time” is better than a flat ignore. The person on the other end of that email could very well become a very lucrative collaborator in future, so keep your options open.

You’re never too important to be polite

It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a multi-national conglomerate or a middle-manager of a small start-up, there is no excuse for being rude to a customer, supplier or employee. True leaders are able to control their emotions no matter how stressful a given situation may be.

Good service is a reward in itself

There is nothing better than receiving a heartfelt thank you or a glowing recommendation from a satisfied customer. It could be in the form of an email, social media post or simply just a verbal acknowledgment of a job well done, and it always strikes a chord.

But that should not be the main motivation behind proper customer service – the mere feeling of having performed a task, provided a service or supplied a product that has been executed to the best of your abilities is a reward in itself.

LEILANI’S TOP TIP: If you ever need some inspiration to stay humble and accommodating in the customer service department, re-watch Pretty Woman and then place yourself in the shoes of that snooty sales assistant. Big mistake, indeed…

These are a few of the valuable lessons I’ve learned regarding customer service during my time as a South African entrepreneur. Keep an eye on this platform in coming weeks and months for more insights and business opinions.

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