The secret to unparalleled business success isn’t developing a perfect product or service. Instead, ongoing success and continued growth hinge significantly on the quality of customer service that an organization provides. Poor customer service costs U.S. businesses around $62 billion per year, and customers are more likely to remember the interactions that they have with a company than the quality of its products and services. Knowing what constitutes excellent customer service – in particular, carefully listening to and attending to customers’ desires and needs – is one thing; putting it into action is another.
Below, we explore seven key areas that you should focus on to become a standout in the world of customer service and to propel your company to previously unimaginable heights of success.
1. Strengthen Your Team and Company Culture
Providing excellent customer service starts from the inside out. Some tips for strengthening your business in this regard include:
- Hire the right people, train them correctly, and empower them to address customers’ needs.
- Clarify the mission of your company and establish goals for achieving it.
- Treat employees as “internal customers” and encourage sociability between them so that they are willing to help one another.
- Listen to employees’ needs and desires and recognize the efforts of top customer service performers.
- Create a service tree outlining precisely which departments and employees are responsible for what, ensuring that everyone knows where to turn if they can’t directly assist a customer.
- Use CRM software to streamline the customer service workflow and to make it more intuitive for employees to collaborate on providing exceptional customer care.
- Be a role model by treating employees the way that you want them to treat customers.
2. Promote Optimal Customer Service Skills Across the Organization
Train all employees to properly understand and utilize crucial customer service skills, including the following:
- Possessing an in-depth knowledge of products and services that are provided by your business;
- Using clear communication and active listening when dealing with customers;
- Relating to customers properly through the use of positive language, empathy, and patience;
- Demonstrating a willingness to learn – and to admit to mistakes when they are made;
- Having the ability to find common ground with any customer;
- Being able to follow up after assisting a customer consistently.
Your company should also consistently measure and analyze the quality of the customer care that it provides by soliciting feedback about it from customers. This will help you to refine the above skills among all employees.
3. Provide “Wow” Experiences for Customers
Standouts in the world of customer care strive to provide memorable experiences for their customers constantly. Here are some ideas for doing so:
- Make it personal – Create personalized customer service replies that refer to the customer by their first name. Consider assigning designated reps to significant customers.
- Take an old-fashioned approach – Occasionally veer out of the less personal digital realm by sending cards and letters to customers. Include an actual signature to up the ante even more.
- Turn customer mistakes into great experiences – Customers make mistakes. Instead of writing off such instances, use them to guide the customer to a positive resolution personally.
- Perform random acts of kindness – Empower employees to do kind things for customers randomly. For example, they might send a free product with an order or surprise them with a free month of service.
4. Go the Extra Mile for Your Customers
It’s cheaper to retain existing customers than to find new ones, and stellar customer care can help you to reward current customers and increase loyalty. Some examples include:
- Establishing an official loyalty program that provides perks like discounts to those who sign up;
- Acknowledging VIPs and going out of your way to thank them by, for example, offering private tours or early access to new products;
- Creating online communities where customers can interact with your brand and where you can highlight customer success stories and tagged photos about your brand that they share on social media;
- Offering “swag” and freebies – with logos and other features that promote your company – to loyal customers;
- Sending video email replies to customers who have more complicated issues or to those who deserve some special attention.
5. Make Customers Offers That They Can’t Refuse
Excellent customer service also depends on making it risk-free and easy as possible for customers to try out your products and services. Here are some great ways to do that:
- Have a lenient and transparent refund policy – Customers are more willing to try new products and services that are backed by money-back guarantees. Yours should be concise and easy to understand, so avoid complicated legal jargon.
- Offer an ironclad guarantee or no-strings-attached trial period – For physical products, plainly state that your company guarantees their satisfaction. Use friendly, approachable language, and gently point them toward customer support options. For services, offer a simple trial period. Don’t ask for a credit card, and provide the full-fledged version – not one with limited features.
- Offer free shipping – Especially for returns – and if at all feasible – offer free shipping. Find other ways to recoup shipping costs if this will hurt your bottom line too much.
- Make discount codes readily available – According to Shopify, companies that offer active discount codes are eight times more likely to make sales. Therefore, provide a revolving door of them – and encourage people to use them.
6. Provide Fast, Convenient Customer Support
One of the worst mistakes that you can make in terms of customer service is leaving customers in the lurch. Some ways to ensure that you provide fast, friendly support include:
- Offering support across multiple channels, including email, social media, and phone;
- Using auto-replies with personalized touches like the customer’s name or what they have purchased whenever possible;
- Being transparent about how long it will take for your company to get back to customers who reach out for assistance;
- Offering a variety of useful self-help options, including FAQs, demo videos and in-depth how-to articles;
- Being accessible to customers on a 24/7/365 basis.
7. Make Customer Feedback an Integral Part of Your Company Culture
Finally, one of the best ideas for improving customer service is incorporating customer feedback into the very fabric of your brand and company. Here are some tips for doing so:
- Actively solicit customers for their feedback – and make it as easy as possible for them to provide it.
- Reply to all of the feedback that you receive across all channels. Use negative feedback as opportunities for providing memorable and positive experiences.
- Identify complaints that crop up again and again in customer feedback, and make changes to prevent them from happening any more.
- Crowdsource suggestions and ideas for improvements to your products and services from customers – and act upon them. Learn how to get user-generated content and figure out ways to capitalize on it.
- Share customer feedback with all departments and employees in your organization. That way, they can work together to resolve ongoing issues.
- Publicize your customer service efforts by sharing reviews of your products and services on your website – or even by creating regular reports highlighting specific success stories.
By Making Customer Service a Top Priority, You Can’t Help but to Succeed
Although no question continually improving your products and services needs to be a top priority for your organization, the fact is that you can’t hope to do so without putting customer service first in everything that you do. More than anything, providing top-notch customer service means genuinely caring about what your customers think and genuinely wanting them to have excellent experiences with your brand, products, and services. E-Marketing Associates can provide a free report on business that will show you how your business is performing online against your competition. For more information, get in touch with us today.