Is your sign shop struggling to provide exceptional customer service? Here at shopVOX, we know that there’s one overall principle that your shop needs to be able to provide superior customer service, the kind that makes your customers rave about you and want to keep coming back.
We’re talking about the L.E.A.R.N. principle of customer service.
The Role of Customer Service
Sign shop owners and managers wear many hats. Every day, among other things, these individuals must think about operations, marketing, design, production, and sales. But we cannot forget about customer service.
As a shop owner or simply any kind of businessperson, providing great customer service at all times is essential. When you do this, you will tend to feel more comfortable asking your customers for positive reviews.
Even if the customer experienced a problem while working with you, if your customer service was on par, you stand a good chance of getting the customer to leave a helpful review for you.
This all depends on you following the customer service principle that we are going to lay out for you now. It is called the L.E.A.R.N. principle.
The L.E.A.R.N. Principal (Listen, Emphasize, Apologize, React, Notify)
The L.E.A.R.N. principle comes from the hotel industry. Many hotels instruct their employees to follow this principle when dealing with customers who have complaints.
Generally, when guests of a hotel approach the front desk, they do so because they need something. Whether they are having an issue in their room or simply need extra supplies, it is the duty of the front-desk employees always to be positive in responding. This is the proper way to handle hotel guests with complaints, and it is all part of the L.E.A.R.N. principle.
“L.E.A.R.N.” is an acronym for the basic necessities of exceptional customer service. The first idea here is “listen.” To provide that superior customer service, a sign shop owner must listen actively, not passively.
That means you are not simply waiting for the customer to finish so you can respond. It means putting your own thoughts away for a few moments so you can sit back to listen to the issue the customer is having.
Listening is perhaps the most critical part of the L.E.A.R.N. principle, so be sure you are actually taking in what an upset customer is saying to you.
The next step is to empathize with the customer. As the sign shop owner whose store maybe did not live up to the customer’s expectations of you, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Is this issue something you would not stand for in a business where you were shopping?
Express these feelings to the customer. Say to the person that you understand and that if you were in their place, you would not like to deal with this problem, either. Empathizing with customers shows them that you are engaged with what they are saying and that you fully understand.
The next step is to apologize firmly and respectfully. Going along with the previous step, apologize to the customer and say that you would not want to put up with this if your roles were reversed.
The apology stage of the L.E.A.R.N. principle is important because this is where you as the business owner are accepting blame for the mistake. Ideally, doing this in a sincere way will diffuse the situation and make the customer less upset.
Ultimately, your apology should bring everyone’s emotions down to a level where you can have a civil conversation about this issue.
In the “react” step, you must actually present a solution to the customer. You have taken in all the information, understood the customer’s position, and must now rectify it.
As the sign shop owner, you don’t have anyone else to whom you can pass the buck. You must handle this situation yourself. Are you going to reprint the customer’s order? Will you make sure it is done with the correct graphic design by the end of the day? Will you deliver the order to the customer yourself? Will you discount the purchase?
You will determine how best to react to a customer’s problem on a case-by-case basis. Whatever your decisions end up being, they must be sufficient to satisfy customers and show them that you care.
The final step of the L.E.A.R.N. principle is to notify your team of what you promised the customer. Junior associates of a business would notify their managers. Owners and managers themselves should let their teams know of their decisions so everyone can be of one mind when fulfilling what you said you would deliver to the upset customer.
This is also the time when owners and managers should reiterate to their teams the importance of quality control. If a price discount resulted from a simple mistake when using your print shop software, then the responsible party must know about it so situations like these do not happen in the future.
Why the L.E.A.R.N. Principle Is Important
Even if you did not initially meet the customer’s expectations, following the L.E.A.R.N. principle will ideally have satisfied the customer and proven that you, as the sign shop owner, cared enough to rectify the situation as best you could.
For this reason, you will probably still feel comfortable asking the customer for a positive online review. The customer should appreciate how well you handled the problem and will likely take this into account when reviewing your business.
When you’re trying to get ahead with your small business in today’s world, you know how important it is to receive online and social media reviews. This is one reason why you should always apply the L.E.A.R.N. approach when handling upset customers. It could make all the difference.