What are the attributes of exceptional customer service
All businesses generally share certain goals for customer care. They want the customer to feel welcome, to enjoy transactions with the company, to continue doing business, and to refer the company to friends and associates.
Customers that write positive reviews on the company website or at commercial and business directory websites are an added bonus, as these often influence the public at large to consider doing business with a company.
Unique characteristics of customer care in certain businesses
However, each company takes an individualised approach to customer care. For example, some promote a fun or entertaining experience, whether in person or online. Others offer an informative, knowledge-based approach to customers. Some emphasise discounts and special options to keep customers interested and happy. On the other hand, when problems arise, customer service can become fairly universal, with everyone wanting their issues dealt with immediately and effectively.
What do your customers need/want?
To serve your customers adequately, you need to understand who they are and what they want. Sometimes a business can determine customer needs before they know themselves what might be helpful or necessary. Identifying needs and meeting them gives a company a distinctive edge in attracting and keeping good customers. Having an understanding of your customer may be the most important factor to providing an exceptional customer experience.
Collecting relevant data
There are many proven methods for gathering data that can tell you a lot about your customers and potential customers, and what they are looking for at your organisation. You can also find out what is missing from their experience and then begin to find ways of filling the gaps.
The importance of customer contact information
Many companies issue discounts when customers sign up to receive a free newsletter, coupons, or sales advertisements. Collecting potential or actual customers' names, addresses, email addresses, and other details provides a treasure trove of opportunities for customer service enhancement. Contact information is key to establishing and maintaining connections with customers. You can alert them of company changes, or simply apprize them of sales events or special promotions. Options like these help to build customer relations, and let customers know they are valuable to the business.
Customer purchase history
Purchase history is another vital aspect of customer service. Understanding what customers buy, how often, and in what quantities gives you an edge in understanding when and what they might be most inclined to purchase in the future.
Understanding user history
Another useful tool is the analysis of usage data for that customer. Customers' frequency in visiting the business, portal or its websites along with services used or requested can play a powerful role in understanding where the customer’s mindset is and their goals.
Customer surveys are the key to how customers view their experiences with your business.
Surveys can be collected in various ways. Company associates can informally ask questions during routine procedures in the reception area or checkout line. Telephone surveys to random customers or as a follow-up to a recent visit or company interaction can be extremely helpful. Email is often used for surveys and questionnaires to customers, often with an incentive included, such as a discount on a future purchase.
Additional types of surveys include mailed surveys sent for specific follow-up to a particular transaction or event. Face-to-face interviews are occasionally conducted in a Customer Service department when someone has a question or problem. Sometimes a manager will follow up to ask if a recent experience was positive, and if the customer has suggestions for improvement.
Social media and crowdsourced reviews
Most organisations take advantage of social media to inform the public, interact with customers, and attract new business. Consumers today often prefer using social media for business updates and to post questions or get feedback. Chat options allow customers to interact with company representatives online. They can share opinions that are often promptly addressed to save transportation time or phone waiting time. Customers can also read reviews posted by others for a better idea of how the company is perceived.
Even negative reviews can be beneficial. Negative posts show the company's open-minded attitude in sharing them with the public. In addition, complaints posted on social media allow a company to respond and make things right to show the public a good example of customer service, and give the organisation direct, actionable feedback on what specifically is preventing positive customer experiences.
The value of customer feedback
Using feedback to define excellent customer service shows customers that the company cares about their opinions and is willing to listen and genuinely improve.
Leveraging customer feedback and patterns give customers a voice in helping the company to meet their needs. In turn, this encourages others to do business with a company that demonstrates caring and concern for its customers. The business environment becomes win-win rather than dog-eat-dog. Exceptional customer service should be the hallmark of every company to ensure satisfaction for everyone involved.
With an increasingly isolated cultural environment, due in part to social media that encourages Internet over face-to-face interactions, many people are looking for ways to connect to others in public organisations. They appreciate feeling part of something important, and they are more willing to conduct business with companies that care and listen.