10 Top Traits for Great Customer service (whether you’re a woman or a man)
10. Knowledge about customers and their needs
So are women entrepreneurs different then? The history behind the majority of women entrepreneurs is similar. More often than not women decide to set up a business because they have a genuine passion to provide a particular service or they want to develop and market a particular product. Sometimes it is from economic necessity but not as often as you might think but it is interesting that the woman who sets up a business from her kitchen table is somehow not regarded as highly as a man who works from his spare bedroom for two years before buying their first premises.
There is also the internal attitude, how we, as women entrepreneurs, view ourselves and our business ideas. At the risk of over generalising, the following facts hold true for the majority of women who set up in business: They want to build their business over the long term, not just get it up and running and successful and then sell it off and go onto something else They see customer satisfaction to be the cornerstone to this growth They are risk managers rather than risk takers and pay great attention to event he smallest aspect of their business They tend to set up on a shoestring, finding as many ways as possible to do something for no cost/low cost possibly because they know they will not be financed by venture capital or perhaps because they need to prove to themselves that their business will work before they go and ask for help They are highly motivated to succeed and determined not to give up These elements, except perhaps the last one, are not traditionally characteristics of male entrepreneurs. So where does this take women entrepreneurs when it comes to customer service and how does it affect their attitudes towards customers?
Do women treat customers differently from men? Women entrepreneurs see the customer as central to their enterprise and will consistently do whatever it takes to keep customers and add customers, sometimes to the detriment of their families and their health; for example, they will work through the night to get a job finished and may be less able than men to keep the boundaries between home and family life separate. Of course, male entrepreneurs also work all hours when it’s necessary but they don’t often have the additional responsibility of home and family to take care of which, traditionally, women do.
This is great for the customer, in the short term at least, but the downside of this commitment to customers is that many women entrepreneurs see a need to ‘over deliver’, to do more than they are being asked to do at the risk of other aspects of their business. Whether this is because of an innate lack of self belief, an upbringing as ‘people pleasers’ or something else is debatable; it could simply be a genuine desire to offer whatever it takes to keep the customer happy. But it is common that women will accommodate the needs of customers even if this means more effort and less remuneration or will accept tight deadlines and not even think of charging a premium price for the service.
On the upside, women are generally better listeners than men and are genuinely interested in their customers as people rather than /$ signs. So they will really listen to what the customer wants and try to provide it and, as they pay attention to detail, they can provide perhaps the smallest of add-ons which make the difference and help the customer feel an individual. Once customers get used to this, they will go on expecting it so beware the woman entrepreneur who gets so successful that, in time, she puts automatic responders into action to deal with customers- this takes away the personal touch and can result in a dropping off of customer loyalty.
What key lessons do women entrepreneurs need to take on board about customer care?
- Choose you ideal client and target market and stick to it – you can’t be all things to all people and if you try, you will end up being pulled in all directions. Later you can develop into other markets
- Be clear about your boundaries between home and work and stick to them
- Keep your focus on your customers and confidently deliver what it takes to keep them coming back
- Don’t lose the personal touch when your enterprise gets bigger or you will lose those original customers who supported your business when it started up
Make sure you have a written customer service policy rather than just something in your head. It needn’t be long and complex but should note how you will treat your customers, what you will do if things go wrong and how you will systematically keep in touch with them.
Kate Cobb : Don’t wait! Sign up for a FREE two-part webinar series for women when we will look at the issue of self confidence and how to get more of it. Places limited so book here for a place “Get Confident, Get Going or How to Take Tactical Steps To Build Confidence” https://www3.gotomeeting.com I am a qualified coach, training consultant and careers counsellor with special expertise in women’s development and leadership.