Customer satisfaction is the key to business success. This idea isn’t anything new or groundbreaking; in fact, customer service is routinely rated by business leaders as being the most important factor in business success. Simply put, a satisfied customer is a happy customer, and a happy customer is one that will come back time after time to purchase the products or services you offer. But while most organisations make a conscious effort to keep their clients happy, the truth is that it often just isn’t enough. 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after a negative customer experience, and the overall amount of money lost to American businesses per year as a result of poor customer service is approximately $84 billion. With numbers such as these, it’s obvious that when it comes to customer service, there’s always room for improvement. Here are 20 customer service tips to help your business provide the best possible experience for those who support it.
14% of underperformers think employee satisfaction is slightly, or not at all important.
- Make sure that you have the right tools. Customer service is about more than simply smiling and being friendly. In today’s digital world, businesses are expected to be able to resolve a large volume of customer issues across a variety of media and platforms. Unfortunately, 42% of service agents are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues, due to disconnected systems, out-dated user interfaces, and multiple applications. If you want to be able to give your customers a consistently positive experience, give your agents the tools they need.
- Focus on resolving the problem, not making it someone else’s problem. When a service agent is unable to quickly resolve a client issue, the first response is often to pass the customer off to another agent. After all, the hope is that the new agent will be better equipped to find a solution. However, transferring the client to another representative is often counter-productive. 26% of consumers have experienced being transferred from agent to agent without any resolution of their problem. This shows the customer that you do not value their time, and that you can’t be bothered to try to work with them through a difficult issue. Train your agents to take personal accountability for their clients, and to recognise that issues can be solved much more quickly when they aren’t being actively avoided.
- Be willing to spend money to improve your customer service. Some business leaders recognise the value of improved customer service, but see the associated costs as prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, 9 out of 10 customers say that they would pay extra to guarantee a better service. So, if cost is holding you back, let the clients pay the difference—everyone will be happier in the long run.
- Don’t neglect courtesy. We live in a very practical world, so we sometimes assume that those we do business with are more focused on getting a good deal than how they’re being treated. However, this just is not the case. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated, which means that being friendly and courteous plays a much larger role the conclusion of your sale than you might have realised.
- Recognise the value of social media in customer service. As the saying goes, no person is an island—especially in the age of social media and online reviews. Now, when clients have negative customer service experiences, they can easily share their disappointment with the world, tarnishing your brand’s reputation in a way that a single, disgruntled customer never could have only a few decades ago. On the other hand, customers who are able to positively engage with organisations over social media spend roughly 20–40% more with the company in question. Give social media, and those who use it, the focus they deserve.
- Never leave a social media query unanswered. Social media is designed to make it possible for you to connect with your clients in a down-to-earth, personal way. Of course, that makes it all the more damaging to the company-client relationship when social media service requests go unanswered. 55% of customer requests for service on social media are not acknowledged in any way, which gives the appearance to the general public that your organisation simply does not care about customer service.
- Listen to feedback. Consumers are the ones who are keeping your organisation running—it only makes sense that you’d want to hear what they have to say. Customer feedback, both positive and negative, is an invaluable resource. 70% of companies that deliver the best-rated customer experience actively seek out and use customer feedback.
- No news is not always good news. You may assume that an unhappy customer will bring their problems directly to your service agents, but the reality is much worse: 91% of unhappy customers who are non-complainers simply take their business elsewhere. This means that even if you aren’t receiving negative feedback, you might still be losing business as a result of bad customer service. Be proactive about locating the flaws in your customer service processes.
- Use automation, but not exclusively. Many customers experience problems which can be easily resolved via automated CRM systems. That having been said, some customers would rather speak directly to a living person right away. Don’t force your customer to wade through multiple menus or recordings before they can have access to a live representative. Given that 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live person, you may be helping to foster improved customer relationships simply by allowing clients direct and easy access to service agents.
- Keep your eye on the prize. Customer service isn’t a single problem to be addressed; it’s a dynamic, ever-changing entity that requires near constant attention. But for those organisations that learn how to work with it, success becomes an almost-foregone conclusion. Just remember, any work you put into improving your customer service, becomes a very sound investment.
- Clear communication will get you a long way. “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”. Gain the ability to simplify any task so that even the least technical person can be able to follow along. By practising this you will eliminate many miscommunication problems. Also avoid use of technical jargon, simplify as much as possible, or give an explanation of what you are referring to. Simplicity is key. And be honest, if a customer asks something that you don’t know the answer to, find out for them, or get someone who can help you. Explanations that efficient and effective will immensely benefit the customer base and their satisfaction levels.
- A real person drives real results. Natural and genuine interactions will have a greater positive impact than forced ones. To obtain this, hire amazing people, combine it with powerful support training session, and watch magic happen. A well trained rep will be more compelling than someone just reading from a script, an example of this is knowing how to deal with an upset customer. This task can not be achieved through a preformatted customer support piece, someone should have emotional intelligence to effectively remedy the situation. Demonstrating care takes a genuine person to make a connection happen.
- Understand your customer by becoming the customer. We’ve all encountered a situation in which the customer was simply an afterthought and it is utter frustration. Anticipating desires before they arise will facilitate the overall experience for the consumer. Understanding their viewpoint, will be much easier to come to an mutually beneficial agreement. This will also help with become
- Be memorable, great customer service goes a long way. Take an ordinary request to the next level to show the client that you care and are willing to do what it takes to keep them happy. This is crucial since receiving accolades from a consumer is much more powerful in this day in age due to social media. It has become norm to post, tweet, hashtag if something went right or wrong with a specific interaction. This is a great way for people to read great things about a company so remember, don’t just meet their expectations but exceed them.
- Never forget to thank the customer. Consider that they have many options to choose from so take the time and effort to show appreciation in any way you can. Whether it be through a handwritten note, social media post, or a thank you email, all of these will show the client your acknowledgement of how much you appreciate them.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Sometimes in the heat of the moment and trying to calm a frustrated client you might make a promise that you really shouldn’t have. Understandable, we all make mistakes, but next time stop to consider if that option is the best option. Not being able to fix a customer's issue is bad but don’t make it worse by not delivering what you promised in order to make up for the first issue.
- Reward your best customers. More and more companies are discovering the value of adding a rewards program. Successful programs such as Starbucks Rewards allows the customer to earn stars based on purchases, once they have reached a certain amount, they can redeem them for a complimentary item. In addition to this they have access to the latest information about products and special offers before anyone else. This ensures that customers keep coming back for more. A small token of appreciation goes a long way for customer retention and loyalty.
- Use positive language. Good customer service is knowing how to master communication. Avoid using certain phrases or words that can be misinterpreted, such as “What’s your problem” or “I don’t know”. The use of negative words might encourage feelings of helplessness or lack of ability to solve the problem, instead use something along the lines of “How can I help you” or “Good question. Let me find out for you”. Setting the right tone for the conversation will help to keep the customer calm and happy of the outcome.
- Be approachable with your contact methods. The last thing a customer should do is have to hunt down the best way to contact you to get their issue resolved. This will add the frustration and increase animosity. Have a clear contact page on your website with phone numbers, email, live chat, or link to any social media support accounts. The more options available to the customer the easier and faster the problem gets resolved.
- Be empathetic and show it. Clients love to see that a company cares and is willing to give back to the community in any way possible. If you are a small business, start off locally, help out different school organisations or sports teams with fundraisers or donations within your reach. As a bigger company, the same outreach is possible but on a larger scale. Take time and make an effort to reach out, it won’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
51% of service teams say personalised service is the second top priority in creating customer experience
Following these customer service tips will improve customer’s perceptions about your business. It is no longer acceptable to have subpar service when both you and the client have various tools at your disposal. Maintaining a good relationship will benefit you in the long term, by establishing loyalty to the brand.
It is simply not enough to have great products but also great customer service. A well thought out customer service department will incredibly benefit the company as a whole. It is an investment worth making to ensure that your customers get the most from the product and the company with continued support from you.