Better Service, Better Business — Why You Should Improve Your Customer Service Strategy
How important is customer service for your business? Well, how important is it to you? Why do you return to your favourite familiar spots?
Consider the following:
- 73% of customers will remain brand loyal because of customer service.
- Good customer service increases consumer spending by 17%.
- 77% of customers would recommend a brand after a single positive experience.
- 93% of customers are likely to buy again if the customer experience is good.
But, on the flipside:
- 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to a poor customer experience
- Unappreciation is the #1 reason customers switch to a new brand.
- It takes 12 positive experiences to redeem one negative experience.
So, yes, customer service is important. But have you committed the time, training and resources to create an exceptional customer experience? In too many cases, the answer is no.
Good customer service should be a core element of your business strategy
It represents your company’s brand image, core mission and values. It’s critical for your business’s survival and it could be a game-changer for your bottom line because it leads to priceless word-of-mouth advertising.
If you are just starting your business or are looking to ramp up your customer service, here are some strategies to keep your customers coming back.
Make the customer experience unforgettable
Your quality of service can quickly take the customer experience from good to great. Whether you’re a small business where every employee interacts with customers in some way or a larger entity with a dedicated customer service team, consider every interaction as an opportunity to create a “wow” moment.
Here are a few ways to leave a lasting impression:
- Use emotional intelligence: Identify common ground with your customers to establish rapport and create a one-to-one relationship. This goes beyond learning your customer’s name. Dig deeper to understand the nature of their concerns; show empathy and allow them to express any grievances they may have.
- Go the extra mile: Carrying a customer’s order out to their car. Following up with a customer after fixing an issue. Offering to bring a repaired item directly to a customer’s home for free. You can always find ways to make exceptional service part of the package. And it’s worth your time because investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones.
- Learn from your mistakes: A disappointed customer doesn’t mean failure ¾ it means an opportunity to grow. Acknowledge your customer’s concerns, then look for new, creative ways to solve their problem. If they see that you’re making every effort, they’ll likely stick with you through the process.
If you genuinely care about your customer’s experience, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Never stop improving
How can your company become better at customer service? It’s a question you should never stop asking because it can ALWAYS get better. Customer service is a great place to apply the kaizen mindset of continuous improvement. Don’t assume you can hire experienced Customer Service Representatives and leave it at that. Examine your protocols, look for areas to improve and train, train, train.
You should identify the touchpoints where interactions with customers occur, and practise how to handle various scenarios that apply to your specific business needs. This type of growth mindset also leads to greater employee satisfaction.
Some key questions to ask may include:
- What repeat problems are customers experiencing with our product or service?
- What resources are we providing to help customers discover their own solutions?
- Is there a follow-up process in place to ensure customer satisfaction once issues are resolved?
A mindset of continuous improvement benefits your customers and helps you become a better business every day.
Empower your customer service reps
As the employees on the front lines, your customer service reps (CSRs) are the best situated to show off your company’s values and work ethic. Give them the training and autonomy to do it.
Here are the keys:
- Incorporate active listening: This is a comprehension technique that lets the customer feel heard, and also keeps them talking so you can get to the root of the issue.
- Balance communication skills and product knowledge: Both are critical to the customer service experience. Teach your people the soft skills like writing effective emails and managing objections.
- Make customer service an organization-wide priority: Your strategy should touch every employee. Everyone in your company should be championing your customers in some way.
Use the Right Tools
Customers appreciate personalized service, but they value efficiency. Look for automation opportunities that speed up their interactions.
Tools like help desks and ticketing systems free up valuable time for CSRs to actually service clients and solidify relationships. Or you could create an online community where your customers can use each other’s knowledge to solve problems.
The key is finding the right balance between technology and the human touch. This will change depending on your customer personas, but you’ll know when your bot/person ratio is in a good place.
Provide feedback opportunities
Feedback is essential for ensuring service quality, but it’s hard to get. Behind every vocal customer are dozens of silent ones.
Social media is an excellent way to get feedback — even though it often comes in the form of unsolicited criticism. But keep in mind there are ways to spin the negative into a positive. The most important thing to do when it comes to social media criticism is to address it: never ignore it. A best practice is to acknowledge quickly, apologize, and provide a contact to discuss further. By doing this you are showing that you care about the customer’s opinion, which, in the end, is what every customer desires.
When it comes to other forms of feedback, make it easy for your customers to give it. As the adage goes, meet your customers where they are. Be on the social networks they’re on. Send them emails at times they’re more likely to have the time to read them. Make surveys easy and quick. And always thank them for their feedback. Remember: unappreciation is the #1 reason customers switch to a new brand.
Bottom line: treat your customers right and they’ll return the favour in spades.