Parker PR

Here are five quick communication tips for new businesses that, from recent experience of talking to very unhappy customers, more established service providers seem to have forgotten.

1. Do invest in an answerphone. It may seem an incredibly obvious thing to say and do but I'm still amazed at the number of business owners/managers that think it's fine to let customer hang on the end of a phone until they lose the will to live. Customers do not want your product or service only between 10am and 4.30pm. Make sure you have some way they can leave you a message so you can get back to them – or risk losing them to a competitor.

2. If your recorded voice message asks customers to "please leave details and we will get back to you", make sure you don't leave it 48 hours or until the customers calls again or they call you on your mobile while you are out socialising with friends because they are so unhappy that they next person they call is their lawyer.

3. If you say you offer a service – then follow through on it. There's no point in going to market saying that you do X, Y and Z if you don't actually fulfil the promise. I recently heard of one business that said they delivered repaired goods back to the customer as a key part of the service only to then ask customers to collect things because they were "too busy" – not for long they won't be with that attitude.

4. If a dissatisfied customer calls, take down the details and say you will get back to them – and do it. Do not speak to the customer and then talk about the problem in the office with clients while the receiver is open – yes, this does happen! Your customer wants respect and courtesy, they do not want to listen to you trying to find out what went wrong or who is to blame. They certainly don't want to hear you say "O, it's laughing boy again moaning on".

5. Keep your team informed about developments in services and customer care. There's nothing so frustrating for a customer than to have to repeat the whole story each time they ring up because they are speaking to someone new who has not been informed.

This might all sound like common sense, but each one are real examples of customer experience I have heard about in the last week. Make sure it's not you your ex-customers are talking about in this way.