March 2015 Vol. 2 Issue 3
Good Customer Service Is Part of Your Core Values
By Lourdes Cortez
When you think about it, we’re all customers of someone’s small business. And there are certain expectations of how we expect to be treated, and anything less is unacceptable. In other words, we all know what it feels like to be a customer.
However, as a small business owner, your top priority should be to always deliver top-notch customer service. The key to doing this is to make sure that kindness, courtesy, reflecting a good first impression and possessing ethical integrity – are the core values of your business operation.
First, as the CEO, you set the tone for how your employees interact with customers. As an effective hiring practice, you want to have potential employees write down their definition of good customer service. Not only does it serve as a useful tool in providing you with important data about what kind of employee they will be, it will help you to identify the right person for the job, according to your customer service values.
Second, in the digital age, you’re at a tremendous advantage when it comes to extending good customer service. Engaging with customers through social media can be as enterprising as it is fun. Running a 30-minute “Flash Sale,” with patrons clamoring to get in on the sale, has its rewards. This sends the message to your customers that you’re abreast of technology, and are willing to extend to them the courtesy of a discount because they are in your business’ social network.
Third, don’t forget the “power of the pen” so to speak. Customers want to tell you about their experience. So stay connected through questionnaires or other means of garnering their feedback. This provides you with valuable information while creating a loyal customer base that will help you to improve different areas of the business.
Fourth, perhaps the personality of your business needs some attention. You want to create that WOW factor that drives more business your
way, by making your customers feel really appreciated. You can do this by getting social and writing a glowing endorsement about your customers’ professional qualities on LinkedIn or about their business on Facebook. Or display the novel, eye-catching artwork of a local artist, in your store or office building. This kind of customer service will go a long way. As I often say at our credit union, “People Helping People” goes a long way in terms of customer service.
Don’t forget that you are in a unique position as a small business owner, because you can get to know your customers personally or, better yet, you can make quick decisions that meet their needs instantly. I often hear that good customer service strategies are something large box stores do. However, with social media being so popular and such an easy-to-use tool for many people, your business could literally suffer instantly from a bad review. Don’t let this happen to you and your business.
Remember to always be proactive, and take it from me, when it comes to being a customer, we all know that we will spend money where they treat us with dignity, kindness and courtesy.
Lourdes Cortez, President/CEO of North Jersey Federal Credit Union, hails from Paterson. In 1984, she began her career at North Jersey Federal and served in several roles. In 2004, she was promoted to VP of Operations and soon thereafter became Senior VP and in 2005 was named President and CEO.
In February 2014, Cortez was appointed to the Board of Trustees of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. She also serves on the boards of the Workforce Investment Board of Passaic County, and Visions Academy Charter School in Newark, and as President of the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic. Cortez is the chairperson for the North Jersey Federal Credit Union Foundation and assistant treasurer for Executive Women of NJ. She has volunteered for numerous organizations including La Casa De Don Pedro, the March of Dimes, Eva’s Village in Paterson and the American Cancer Society.
As the first Latina CEO of a credit union in New Jersey, Cortez has been honored by NJ Biz magazine, which named her one of the “Best 50 Women in Business” in New Jersey. Other awards include: the North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2010 Star Award in Business, the 2010 Salute to the Policy Makers Award from Executive Women of NJ, and the 2012 Women of Achievement Award from the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.