Customer happiness 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, customer service is knowing that a satisfied customer is a happy one, and that a happy customer is one that will come back time after time to purchase the products or services you offer. But while most organizations make a conscious effort to keep their clients happy, the truth is that it often just isn’t enough.
86% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after a single negative customer experience, and the overall yearly losses as a result of poor customer service is approximately $537 billion. With numbers such as these, it’s obvious that when it comes to offering good customer service, there’s always room for improvement. Want to learn how to be good at customer service? Here are 20 customer service tips to help your business provide the best possible experience for those who support it.
- Make sure that you have the right tools. Customer service is about more than simply smiling and being friendly. In the digital world of 2018, 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 Unfortunately, 42% of service agents are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues, due to disconnected systems, outdated user interfaces, and multiple applications.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 recognize 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 recognize 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 in the conclusion of your sale than you might have realized.
- Recognize 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 organizations 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 organization simply does not care about customer service.
- Listen to feedback. Consumers are the ones who are keeping your organization 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.
- 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 practicing 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 are 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. So how do you ensure natural interactions? You start by hiring amazing people, then you train them with the right interpersonal and service skills, and finally you give them the freedom to do their job well. A well trained rep will be more compelling than someone just reading from a script — such as when dealing with upset clients. This task cannot be achieved through a preformatted customer support piece; you need representatives with the service skills and 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 utterly frustrating. Anticipating desires before they arise will help improve the overall experience for the consumer. Understanding their viewpoint, it will be much easier to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
- 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, because 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, etc. 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 customer expectations; 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. This is 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 ‘points’ based on purchases. Then, once they have reached a certain amount, they can redeem those points for a complimentary item. In addition, by adding interested customers to special newsletter or email lists, you give these customers 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.” 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 keep customers 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 to their frustration and make it more difficult to find a satisfactory resolution. 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. Good customer service skills are vital, but to really reach clients, you need to show them that you care about more than just quarterly earnings. Clients love to see that a company is willing to go beyond the sale and actually give back to the community. If you are a small business, start off locally, help out different school organizations or local charities 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, and it won’t go unappreciated.
- 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 organizations that learn how to work with it, success becomes an almost-foregone conclusion. Of all of these 20 customer service tips, the most important thing to remember is this: Any way you can improve your customer service will end up benefiting your business.
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 so many tools at your disposal. Maintaining a good relationship will benefit you in the long term, by improving customer happiness and establishing loyalty to your brand.
Customer happiness is the key to business success, and as long as customer make purchases, it always will be. Make 2018 the year of the customer, and the customer will make it a year for the record books.