There’s no doubt about it. Customer service has the potential to make or break your business. Customers are willing to spend 17 percent more, on average, with companies who provide excellent customer service. And, 96 percent of consumers worldwide place customer service as an important factor when picking a brand.
But not all businesses are taking note. According to an Accenture study, American companies have lost a combined $1.6 trillion due to customers switching to competitors after a poor customer service experience. We can assume that the rest of the world follows a similar trend.
Providing outstanding customer service not only increases the amount that customers spend at your business, but it also helps you grow your customer base. Here are ten simple activities you can follow to give your business an edge and make your customer service amazing.
It’s impossible to accomplish stellar customer service without forming the procedures to implement it. Work as a team with your employees to create a customer service mantra and brainstorm associated attributes you feel are essential to the success of your business.
Take Southwest Airlines, for example, a company with notoriously great customer service. The Southwest mission is “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.” Whenever a Southwest employee is faced with a difficult customer service decision, we can be sure that this mission is at the front of their mind.
Following the creation of your customer service mantra and procedures, ensure that you document them, and any other relevant information, somewhere that’s easily accessible to all employees. Many businesses go so far as to post this information around their office as a constant reminder of how to act in customer interactions.
To best help your customers, you need to practice empathy. Discover their likes, dislikes, motivations, and try to look at your business through a customer’s viewpoint. Crafting customer journey maps is an excellent exercise to gain this perspective.
When mapping out a customer journey, include every interaction the customer has with your company, from the first touchpoint (e.g., advertising or inquiry) to the last (e.g., support or return). Try to discover areas in which you can surprise and delight your customers.
Don’t create these journey maps in a silo. Talk to your customers and gain an understanding of their specific experiences. You’ll quickly begin to see patterns emerge. As you learn more about your customers’ wants and needs, you’ll be better prepared to provide them with the customer service that they expect.
Every one of your employees needs to go through customer service training as part of their onboarding process. Creating procedures that surprise and delight your customers is pointless if your employees don’t follow them.
Educate your staff on proper workplace etiquette and what to do when different customer scenarios arise. It may even be worthwhile to roleplay certain events as part of the training.
Customer service training shouldn’t stop after onboarding, either. Continuously monitor your employees and teach them innovative ways to improve their customer service skills. Providing perfect customer service is an unobtainable goal towards which you should continually be working.
Find ways to reward employees for following your customer service mantra. You may want to praise them publicly, give them a raise or promotion, award them additional vacation days, or perform some other act of gratitude. Everyone responds differently to specific rewards mechanisms, so you may find yourself changing your strategy depending on the employee.
Customers view response speed as one of the most influential factors of customer service, especially for online businesses. Three-fourths of customers expect a response within five minutes of making contact with online support.
Ensure that your support team isn’t understaffed and has the appropriate resources to respond to customers in a reasonable timeframe. Although hiring another support staff member or two comes with an upfront cost, a better customer service experience typically leads to more sales revenue down the road.
Look into online chat software, such as LiveChat, to help your customer support team manage multiple conversations at once and become more efficient.
Having a quick response time isn’t enough, however. You need to be courteous as well. In an American Express survey, 68 percent of respondents attributed a pleasant representative as a pivotal contribution to their positive customer service experience. Your procedures need to include specific wording and phrases to keep your employees’ tone respectful which, in turn, leaves customers feeling satisfied.
As the business world becomes more digital, customers are turning towards self-service options to solve their problems. Over 60 percent of U.S. consumers opt for self-service tools to resolve simple issues, and almost 90 percent of B2B decision-makers prefer reordering through a self-service tool rather than speaking with a sales representative.
If you haven’t done so already, add self-service tools to your customer service offerings. These tools can range anywhere from basic frequently asked questions (FAQs) and knowledge base guides to more advanced services such as a community forum and AI chatbots. Most importantly, customers should feel comfortable interacting with your business. So the more self-service options, the better.
Other than improving the customer experience, implementing self-service tools has the additional benefit of reducing your customer service costs. The simpler it is for customers to find answers to their questions, the fewer resources you need to dedicate to your support staff to help them.
Diligently collecting and listening to customer feedback is one of the best ways to improve your business. Often, feedback will reveal issues in your customer service process that you hadn’t known existed.
Don’t wait to hear from customers, either. Only one out of every twenty-six customers let businesses know about a negative experience; the rest silently switch to competitors. By the time a customer is disgruntled enough to complain, it’s typically too late to make any meaningful changes. Reach out to customers and actively gather feedback about their experiences – the good, the bad, and everything in between.
There’s no shortage of tools at your disposal to collect this information. SurveyMonkey is a cost-effective option to collect high-level feedback through mass surveys. Client Heartbeat measures your customers’ sentiment over time. And, Reevoo focuses on gathering customer reviews.
As you collect feedback, analyze responses for trends and insights. You need to implement changes based on your findings and communicate those changes to your customers. Half of all shoppers don’t believe that their feedback reaches decision-makers. So emphasizing how customer feedback drives changes in your organization will set you apart significantly from the competition.
Making your customers feel special is another underutilized yet straightforward strategy in providing fantastic customer service. Increasing customer retention by five percent can improve profits by 25 to 95 percent, so you should be doing everything in your power to keep your current customers happy.
Let’s take a look at another stellar customer service example. In 2015, DonorsChoose, a non-profit organization for education funding, ran an experiment to test the effect that personalization has on donations. The organization effectively split their donors into two groups. One group received personalized thank-you notes after donating. The other set of doners didn’t.
The following year, DonorsChoose discovered that the thank-you note group donated $41 more per person on average than the group without the personalized touch. With 75,000 donors in the thank-you note group, this experiment led to an additional $3 million in donations.
Depending on your business, hand-written thank-you notes may be overkill. But, you should still look to DonorsChoose as an example of the positive effects customer personalization can bring to your business.
Resolving customer issues on the first try may seem like an obvious best practice, yet many companies don’t follow it. Seventy-two percent of people who report poor customer service cite having to re-explain their problem as the crux of their negative experience.
A lack of product and service knowledge seems to be at the heart of this issue. When an employee is unsure of how to answer a customer’s question, they either:
- Pass off the customer to another employee, or
- Even worse, inadvertently tell them false information.
Both scenarios leave a bitter taste in the customer’s mouth. Educating your employees on all aspects of your business does wonders to resolve this problem.
Your staff should eat, sleep, and breath your product or service. Except in rare instances, a customer should never bounce between customer support employees because of a knowledge gap.
Just as you log customer service procedures, you need to document every detail of your product or service. Additionally, record the common issues that customers face, so employees are well-prepared no matter the situation and can resolve issues promptly.
Collect information on the customer issues that employees mishandled, and try to pinpoint what caused the inefficiencies. From there, you can educate your staff on what to do if that situation arises again.
Whether it’s a misplaced order, false charge, or subpar shopping experience, your business will inevitably experience some blunders. Instead of trying to sweep mistakes under the rug, take responsibility for your faults.
A mistake or two won’t kill your business. In fact, a recent study by Glance found that 70 percent of unhappy customers would return to a store if their issues were resolved successfully. But you shouldn’t stop at a simple financial compensation to resolve the conflict. Customer satisfaction doubles when you include an apology as well.
View your mistakes as another opportunity to win the affection of your customers. You don’t just build brand loyalty when everything is going smoothly. It’s the rare moments when your processes break down that you can really prove to customers that you care.
For many consumers, customer service now tops price and product offerings as the deciding factor in picking one brand over another. Businesses are shifting toward utilizing spectacular customer service as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Not so surprisingly, customer service expectations among consumers are already high. Seventy-two percent of consumers, for instance, expect a customer service agent to know who they are, know what they’ve bought, and have information about their previous contact with the company.
Fortunately, the payoff from exceeding your customers’ expectations is worth the additional time and resources. Over 70 percent of customers will tell six or more people of a positive experience they have with a business. Doing some back-of-the-napkin math, providing a great experience to just 100 customers has the potential to reach over 400 additional people. Even converting a small percentage of those 400 potential customers could have significant implications on the success of your business.
Continuously enhancing your customer service process needs to be a cornerstone of your business philosophy. As competing products continue to become more interchangeable with each other, companies will find increasingly innovative ways to stick out from a customer service perspective.
It’s an area in which you can’t afford to get left behind, so get started on those improvements today.