No matter how difficult it may be to implement, providing excellent customer service should be one of the most important pillars of any business. Customers should never be able to tell if a company has a large customer service team or a team of just one. Not only do best practices in customer service lead to increased profit, but they also aid in customer retention.
Check out these best practices to ensure that your business takes care of every customer and sale—whether it’s online in your e-commerce store or over social media, or offline in your shop or industry location.
Whether you have a small or large team to handle requests, there are a number of best practices to make sure your online customer service, including over social media, is on point. Obviously when it comes to metrics like response times there are perks to having a large staff, but there are also benefits to being on the smaller side. For example, a one-person operation may have more in-depth customer interactions and know customers on a more personal level.
In other words, use what you have to your advantage. Here are some important ways to provide excellent customer service online.
One of the best online customer service practices is to have a good ART. This can be more challenging if you have a smaller team, but this is also about consistency. If your online customer interactions team needs to improve its ART, consider having an automated email or messaging system that promises to respond to customers within a certain time frame. That way your customer service department can prioritize and manage requests and customers know that contacting you online is a reliable option.
For most companies, customers need multiple ways of getting in touch with your service team. That means having a phone number for those who wish to call, as well as easy-to-find social media accounts.
That said, email stands out as a great customer service medium, especially with its integration in your CRM platform. The key is to make sure you reply to customer emails in a timely manner—ideally 24 hours or less.
Other companies prefer chat and use a sidebar that pops up with a customer service representative almost immediately. This service is helpful because customers know if they need to ask a question before completing a purchase, someone is available to help them right away.
When you respond to a customer’s concern or question, try to be as direct and concise as possible. Communicating online is a wonderful way to provide customer service; however, it can also lead to miscommunication or misinterpretation. Keep it simple and make sure you provide people with information that they need.
Regardless of the size of your team, every online representation of your brand should be consistent and accurate. Think about how you want your staff to handle frequently received questions or problems. When your team members react in consistent ways, your customer service looks professional and capable.
You also want to provide customers with accurate, timely information. This comes down to communication and proper training. No matter if you have one or 100 on your customer service team, it’s all about having a customer service training strategy in place.
Providing customer service online can seem like a casual format. But in business, be diligent that all online interactions are professional. The most important way you can present your brand in a professional manner is to make sure your client-facing employees use correct grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. This also means avoiding slang or chat lingo.
When you organize your team in a storefront or retail location, keep these best practices in mind for face-to-face interactions. Again, these aspects of customer service are important whether you have one person running your store or dozens manning a busy retail location.
Before we dive into the offline best practices, keep in mind that some of the things we’ve already discussed still apply. For example, you want your employees to be consistent and accurate when representing your brand. You want to make sure you hire people who can be professional, speak well, and represent your brand with the best presentation possible. You also want customer service representatives to remain direct and concise in person. Your company’s goal is to make sure your customers get what they need out of their customer service experiences.
We all know that first impressions count, and in many cases they can make or break a situation. This is especially true for customer service interactions. Research by customer engagement company Thunderhead found that 20 per cent of customers stop trusting a company after one bad experience, and a quarter will instantly switch brands.
This means you only have one shot to ensure customers can trust they will get reliable service with you every time, in every interaction. You need to be consistent over time. After all, retention is just as critical as a new sale.
In customer service the focus is often on reacting to clients’ needs, complaints, or concerns. However, it’s just as important to be proactive and make sure that you provide an environment where you can reach out to customers, anticipate their needs, and intercept them before any negative experiences occur.
How to Have Proactive Customer Service
Every company does research on the demographics of their customers to figure out what age, location, or product preference may reveal. However, it’s important to treat every customer or client as an individual. Try to learn why they choose your business and what you can do to assist them from the very beginning of your relationship. Businesses that customize the customer experience make their customers feel like individuals rather than members of a general demographic.
To make this happen, go beyond demographic research and keep track of conversations, interactions, and individual needs for each customer within your CRM. Show you care: It’ll go a long way with your customers no matter the size of your service team.
Regardless if you have a staff of one or 100, a number of strategies help provide excellent customer service. Many of them are similar for online and offline interactions, even though both have unique hurdles and benefits. Above all, consistency and brand representation is key. Find success by making sure your customer service staff members are on the same page.
The moral of the story: The most important aspect of your customer service team, no matter its size, is your training time and strategy. All of the points above are necessary regardless of the size of your team.