Excellent customer service is that edge that brings people to your brand over your competitor’s. It helps develop a loyal customer base. It can mean the difference between success and failure for many small businesses. However, it is also hard to define the areas you might be lacking.
In a recent survey by Microsoft, 90% of consumers indicated customer service impacts their choice of and loyalty to brands. They also expect service to improve year over year. If you’ve ever wondered why you need a customer service strategy, the research makes it clear how much it matters.
What causes poor customer service and how can your strategies improve? Here are our top things to look at if you feel you can ramp up your service game.
1. Listen to Your Customers
Have you ever called a customer service number and felt as though you were being talked at and not heard? A common problem with customer service is agents reading from a script and not taking the time to listen to the needs and concerns of their customers.
Train your reps to listen more than they speak. It’s difficult to solve a problem when you don’t have a full understanding of what the issue might be. Keep scripts only for training and then lose them for actual customer interactions.
Keep careful notes of the issue. If the person must call in again, the next contact will have the previous interaction and be able to hit the ground running.
2. Train Your Team
Make sure your customer service team is trained thoroughly in your policies and with a customer-centric approach. Retrain those who’ve been with you for a long period of time in more recent practices.
Around 86% of customers say they’d pay more for better customer service, so investing in your crew is worth the extra expense.
You may also want to offer opportunities for your staff to have a day to refresh and bond with co-workers, learn new skills or just take a break from the volatility customer service sometimes brings.
If they get away from the stress for a day or two, they can come back refreshed and ready to smile through anything.
3. Embrace Empathy
Do you empathize with your customers? Put yourself in their shoes. They spent their hard-earned money on your product or service with certain expectations. You possibly failed them in some way, but if you’re willing to fix the issue, they’ll forgive you pretty quickly.
Also know that the screaming customer isn’t always just angry about receiving a defective product. Sometimes there are other things going on in a person’s life, such as an ill family member or major life change.
If your reps listen more than they speak, they may get to the root of the aggravation and be better equipped to fix things and keep the customer happy. Allow your reps to have some creative freedom to make decisions that benefit the client, too.
4. Speak Positively
Train your staff to use positive language rather than negative. It’s easy to get in the habit of using certain words, but those phrases may have negative connotations. For example, the word defect can be negative, so train your employees to say they will send a working product.
Your customers will use negative language when speaking to you, but you can turn their mood around by using more careful phrasing and focusing on the positive parts of the situation.
5. Understand Modern Challenges
The number of coronavirus cases ebbs and flows, but if you understand the modern challenges of doing business you can welcome new customers even in the midst of a pandemic. Think about the needs of your customers.
Know who your target audience is and what their needs are. What are their pain points? You can serve them better if you know what they need and come up with unique solutions.
For example, many restaurants started offering delivery or curbside pickup at the height of the pandemic. What problems do your clients have and how can you best meet their needs?
6. Analyze Feedback
If you have one complaint, you can be almost certain there are many similar issues people aren’t bothering to tell you about. Listen carefully to any feedback your customers give you, so you can make things better.
Good customer service is about more than just fixing failures as they arise. You should also anticipate any problems and stop them before they occur.
7. Utilize Technology
New technologies allow you to offer better customer service. You can automate things such as wishing a client happy birthday or sending out email offers when new products arrive. Look for some excellent customer relationship management (CRM) software that meets your needs.
CRM software helps you stay up to date with your customers but also helps you recognize patterns so you can stock inventory likely to move quickly. It can help you target new clients, follow-up on orders and develop better relationships with those who already frequent your store.
Set Customer Service Goals
Customer service should be part of your long-term business goals. Identify who your patrons are and what they want. Develop programs they’re most likely to respond to.
Listen to your customer service representatives. They are on the front lines dealing with people every day. They know the issues better than anyone and how to fix problems in the current strategy.
With a little determination to improve your processes and a heart for your clients, you’ll wind up with a brand known for excellent customer service and positive interactions.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.