Customer service isn’t just about dealing with complaints. Providing excellent service starts at the incarnation of a product or service. Good service models are often built in to a brand early on rather than as a post-launch afterthought. Beyond closing a sale, the purpose of customer service is to keep customers happy, and persuade them to come back. Even if a particular customer doesn’t return, it’s a huge win if he or she passes positive feedback about your business on to other potential buyers. While the old adage “the customer is always right” can often lead to unreasonable expectations, there are a few key guidelines to help one brand stand out from another.
4 Tenets for Outstanding Customer Service
Acknowledging questions, complaints, and feedback in a timely manner is incredibly important for a seamless customer service experience. In fact, 45 percent of U.S. consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly. It seems simple enough, but in the age of public feedback, great, timely service can be the difference between a one star and a five star review. Keep in mind: Nearly a quarter of people polled in a Pew Research Center survey claimed they had posted comments or reviews online about items they’d purchased. This leads us to our first point.
1. Listen and engage.
Hearing a customer out is just one part of the equation. With social media as a modern-day customer service representative (amongst many other things), customers expect a more interactive experience. Listen to feedback from all channels—be it by phone, comments on product pages, or posts on Twitter or Facebook. Formulate a plan to track every single response so your customer service team can address all of them. Respond to both negative and positive comments in a courteous manner. Negative comments aren’t always so bad. They provide companies the opportunity to show what action they took to resolve a particular problem or request. Research shows nearly six in 10 adults have researched a product or service online, so take the chance to show other potential customers why you care and how you tackle adverse feedback.
2. Be transparent.
Transparency—not just to customers, but also employees, investors, and business partners—is crucial to brand loyalty. Though brand transparency veers from many traditional business practices, sharing future plans or data both inside and outside of a company can promote innovation, helpful participation, and trust. Perhaps more importantly, choosing candour over secrecy can give a brand a face and human quality.
3. Build trust.
Remaining consistent as a brand, being dependable, and providing clear communication help build trust. Brands have to be honest to gain trust from customers, so it’s critical to represent the features and benefits of a product or service in a truthful way. Rather than try and appease a customer with a solution you can’t deliver, avoid lofty or unrealistic promises and instead be upfront. When customers trust a brand, 83 percent will recommend the company to others and 82 percent will continue to use the brand frequently.
4. Take the extra step.
Going the extra mile can mean significant gains for a company. While making promises you can’t keep is a major no-no, if a customer requests free shipping to make up for a delayed order, make it happen. So long as a specific request doesn’t cost a lot of time or money, it’s worth the extra mile. Always remember customer service agents are your sales team.
Customer service isn’t exactly a science, but some of the most successful businesses have risen above competition with exceptional service models. Here are 30 customer service quotes to inspire your own customer service improvements.
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Your website isn’t the center of your universe. Your Facebook page isn’t the center of your universe. Your mobile app isn’t the center of your universe. The customer is the center of your universe. — Bruce Ernst
Merely satisfying customers will not be enough to earn their loyalty. Instead, they must experience exceptional service worthy of their repeat business and referral. Understand the factors that drive this customer revolution. — Rick Tate
The future of communicating with customers rests in engaging with them through every possible channel: phone, e-mail, chat, Web, and social networks. Customers are discussing a company’s products and brand in real time. Companies need to join the conversation. — Marc Benioff
Forget ‘branding’ and ‘positioning.’ Once you understand customer behavior, everything else falls into place. — Thomas G. Stemberg