3. Be Available & Responsive

Whether you are a freelance coach, Director of Tennis, staff pro or own the facility, make certain that you are easily available to your clients. If you have an office, keep your door open (unless you’re in a meeting) and be sure to walk through the facility or the court area greeting customers, as often as you can.

Give your clients several contact options to reach you. Some may insist on talking on the phone while others prefer email or text. Be sure your clients have (and are encouraged to use) your phone number and email address. Make certain your voicemail is always in working order, has a professional greeting, and is able to take messages.

I learned a great customer service move years ago when I called Mitchell’s to confirm my 6:00 am lesson the next morning with Jack. I happened to call just after the store closed. The answering machine picked up, the pleasant voice thanked me for calling and then offered me a variety of options. The last being to “press 7 to be connected to Jack’s home.” I was blown away.

The next morning, I asked Jack about the message, and he said that “by giving our customers the option to reach me at home, we’re sending the message that we’re available to them 24 hours a day.” I asked if people took advantage of that option and he said, “Rarely. The benefit of being available to our customers far outweighs the few that abuse the option.”

“We believe we ought to be the same as doctors and have someone on call at any hour on any day.” Jack Mitchell

Note: Jack is the author of the bestselling book “Hug Your Customers.” It’s a phenomenal book on customer service. I gave a copy to every member of my staff and strongly suggest you read it.

Be Responsive

One of the worst messages I can receive is from a customer telling me that they’ve left a message for one of our pros and never heard back from them. This is inexcusable.

When a person is calling to offer you their business, they’re giving you a tremendous opportunity. To ignore that opportunity is not only rude, it’s business suicide.

A key ingredient of exceptional customer service is a prompt response. Even if you can’t help them immediately, begin the communication by acknowledging their message. This tells them they’re important to you. Promise to get back to them by the end of the day and no later than 24 hours after the time of their message. Then do so-the sooner the better!

A few words about voicemail, email and text

While face to face conversation is almost always the most effective, in today’s busy world, we’ll frequently find ourselves communicating with our clients, and potential clients, through voicemail, email and text. In fact, I would say that 75% of my off-court business is conducted via email and/or phone.

Often, voicemail or email will be the first experience a potential customer has with you. Having a professional and welcoming voicemail greeting leaves a great first impression and begins to develop a rapport between you and the caller. When setting up your voicemail, be brief, project energy, and provide key information. Start your message by thanking them for calling and then apologize for not being able to take their call.

The message should tell the caller that you’ll return their call as quickly as possible (which you must) and include any other pertinent information. If you’re going to be out of town for an extended period of time, include that information and provide the name and number of someone who can help them immediately. That being said, I suggest you check your machine and email frequently, even if you are lounging on the beach in the Caribbean.

When returning an email message, begin with a simple ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. Stay away from ‘Hey’ (too casual for a first email) and ‘Dear’ (too formal). Pay attention to how they signed their message. The vast majority of the time it will be with their first (and maybe last) name. When you respond, I feel it’s fine to address them by their first name.

For example: “Hi John” sets a casual, friendly tone. However, if, they sign their note with “Dr.” I always respond: “Hello Dr.” The title is clearly important to them, so I respect that.

Thank them for their note. Keep your email concise and to the point. Add indentations or spaces between paragraphs for easy reading and skimming. To close my emails, I always type “thank you again” and then my name.

Before hitting the “Send” key, be sure to re-read your email at least twice! We all have a tendency to rush and make mistakes when typing-particularly if we have a long list of emails to answer. Mis-spelled words, small grammatical errors and incorrect spacing make a very poor impression.

Many people prefer to communicate through text message, and it has its advantages. Text conversations allow people to convey their messages quickly and eliminate the small talk and unnecessary information that can come during phone and email communication.

When communicating with a customer (or potential customer) via text, again, be brief and concise. Try to keep your text to 160 characters, or it might get split into multiple messages.