This is Part I in the new weekly series of studio re-opening articles, tools and tips.

“A man or women without a smiling face must not open shop” Chinese proverb

This Chinese proverb reminds us of the basics, yet VERY important, of customer service. A positive customer experience is impossible without friendly and helpful staff. Now more than ever anyone answering the phone or greeting customers at your studio must be informative and friendly. When someone calls into your studio keep in mind the voice they hear is the voice of your company. Prospective customers will make a lot of decisions about your studio during that first call. Your current customer will continue to form ideas about you and your studio every time they call in. It is like a continuous audition and you must be able to produce every time. If you don’t think the person on the other end of the line can feel your energy, think again. Studies have shown that smiling while you are talking to a customer or prospective customer on the phone will change the inflection in your voice. They have also found that if you smile it will produce positive results 75% of the time! In face to face meetings it will not be possible for someone to see your smile now that we have to wear masks. But if you are smiling under the mask your eyes will light up differently. Try it with a staff member and see if they can tell when you are smiling and when you are not. So, it is important to smile at all times… It cost you nothing but it will pay off in BIG dividends.

What else should you remember when you open shop:

There is no room for customer service mistakes; With studios all over the world reopening now the number one challenge we all will be facing is maintaining our current customers and attracting new ones. The first experience, the first impression of that prospective customer may determine whether they stay and sign up or go elsewhere. This is why providing WOW customer service is so important in the very beginning.  A warm inviting smile is a great way to start.

Ask questions and listen to your customers; The most valuable information for running your studio you may learn from your customers. Pay attention at what they like and what they don’t like. Ask for their opinion about your school and the pros and cons of at-home or in-studio lessons. Create a simple list of 3 to 4 questions that you can ask a potential customer that will feature some of what your studio specializes in.  By asking questions we have found out that not all of our customers will be ready to come back to in-studio so we are going to offer both for our customers who are happy to pay for that service. The more you know the better prepared you can be!

Be grateful to your customers; Appreciate your customers for having interest in your school, for their opinions, for their advice and LOYALTY. Don’t let a few bad apples spoil or jade your opinions about the whole bunch. Maybe it is time to get rid of the bad ones and focus all of your energy on the good ones. When customers really feel appreciated, they are more likely to continue on at your studio and become raving fans who will tell all of their friends about your school!

Be ready for quick actions; There is always a chance that something will go wrong. Especially during this re-opening phase, we are all going through. You must be ready for quick decisions and quick changes. If any issues arise, try to resolve them as soon as possible.  Customers not only appreciate flawless customer service but also the way you resolve issues. I believe this is what separates good customer service from great!

Here are a few more customer service pointers:

When someone is at your studio in person and someone else calls in and you are the only one there, always take the call and then tell the caller you will call them back shortly. ALWAYS work with the person in your studio first. There is nothing more annoying than having the someone talk to someone on the phone while you are standing there. Also, if you are on the phone and someone walks in, ask the person on the phone to hold on for one second, acknowledge the person who has walked in and let them know you are wrapping up a call. If the call is dragging on and you know the call will take a while let the caller know that you want to be able to give them your full attention so can you please call them back shortly.

You may think this is all trivial stuff that doesn’t matter but it really will differentiate you from everyone else. How you navigate through all of this will be part of the customer experience.  When answering the phone don’t forget to use phrases like “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” and remember to say it with enthusiasm. This may seem like nothing but I can assure you it is a great table-setter for a successful conversation.

We will all be facing challenges as we reopen our studios. One of the biggest may be getting families back in the door. Gaining and maintaining customers love and loyalty is a hard-everyday job. The easy part is to remember to smile and watch what happens!

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