Customer service is a vital thing for any business. Some people may dismiss it as a ‘nice to have’, but good customer service can be extremely valuable. With technology moving as fast as it does, it’s no wonder that word of mouth spreads as quickly as it does. One bad review or complaint from an angry influencer can make a big difference to your business, so it’s important that you maintain excellent customer service, and review your practices often.
Could your business benefit from improving its customer service? Here are some things to consider that could help your business maintain its excellent customer relationships, boosting your profits in the meantime.
The Benefits of Good Customer Service
Before looking at ways to improve your customer service, it’s worth taking a look at its benefits first. Many business owners don’t count customer services as a priority, but understanding its value can soon change your mind. Some of the benefits of good customer service include:
Building Trust with Customers
Your customers are an important part of your business, and it’s vital that they trust you in order to ensure repeat business. When you provide a good service to your customers, they’re likely to return in the future. Good customer service could be what separates you from your competition, helping to show customers that you offer the full package – keeping them loyal to your company.
It’s More Valuable Than Price
The internet is all about cheaper sales, quick delivery and greater selection. However, customer service is still seen as being more valuable than price. Consumers want to experience a smooth transaction with no problems, and many are willing to pay the additional cost to ensure that peace of mind. There’s a lot of choice for shoppers online, so one wrong move by an online business and they’ll easily find somewhere else to shop for a better experience.
It’s Great for Word of Mouth
Want to increase your brand awareness? While there are many ways to do it, one of the most effective is through good word of mouth. Word of mouth comes from excellent customer service, so it’s an important consideration if you want customers to shout about your products and services to their friends and relatives. The internet is full of questions about recommendations, and showing good customer service can help people to remember you the next time they’re asked for suggestions on where to buy different products and services.
People Enjoy the Human Interaction
So much of human interaction is now lost as a result of automated processes and online transactions where little to no contact with others is made. Many people miss the human interaction that comes with making a purchase, so some good customer service can help you restore that.
Improving your customer service
Customer service is one area of your business that can always be improved, so be sure to review your approach regularly to help you improve. Some improvements to consider include:
Get Regular Feedback
It can be difficult to improve your customer service if you don’t know how your customers are feeling. Asking them for regular feedback can help you identify problems and ensure that issues are addressed quickly. It’s easier than it seems to get feedback from your customers, and asking them to review your service after a transaction could help you to work out how effective your service is and whether improvements are needed.
Assess Your Employees
While a strong customer service strategy is important for your business, it’s essential that this is filtered down to those who are going to be demonstrating it the most. Mystery shopping is a good way to test the effectiveness of your employees’ customer service skills and can identify areas where further training is needed, or identify regular problems that need addressing.
Provide Regular Training
One way to ensure that your employees maintain excellent customer service standards is to provide them with regular training. Not only is it good practice for your business, but it will also help to address different needs and ensure vital steps in the process aren’t missed. There are different types of training you can offer from one-on-one training to classroom-based. Meet with customer service experts to help you provide the training your employees need.
Offer Customers a Variety of Ways to Get in Touch
Your customers have different needs when it comes to communicating with your business. While some might prefer to fire off a quick email, others might prefer to speak with someone on the phone. Even if your business exists solely online, it doesn’t hurt to have someone at the end of the phone to offer help and advice. Even if your business doesn’t have the capacity to deal with inbound calls, there are ways around this that will help you to maintain high standards of service. Having 1300 numbers cost next to nothing to maintain, and provide the assurance that a professional will always be at the end of the phone. Meanwhile, a live chat service can be another useful way for your customers to get in touch when they’re on the move or are at work and trying to multitask.
Have Customer Service Extend to Your Social Media Channels
Social media has become an increasingly popular way for people to get in touch with businesses. As an easy way to air their views, you can be sure that your customers will hit Twitter, Facebook, etc. to get answers to their queries. Using social media for your customer service can work to your advantage, showing that you’re listening to your customers and are engaging with them. Many businesses will have separate ‘help’ accounts from their main service to prevent messages being missed and to keep the focus of the main accounts on promoting the business. Take a look at how other businesses handle their social media complaints to help you establish some best practice.
Learn from Your Mistakes
It isn’t always plain sailing for businesses, and it can take a customer complaint to point out where the problems are. Instead of letting these issues slide, it’s important that you take action to rectify them immediately. Conducting regular surveys about your services can help you to tackle problems and stay on top of the issues that are most important to your customers.
If you follow up with the customer to let them know that the issue has been resolved, they’ll be likely to appreciate your efforts and remember the customer service you’ve displayed.
Placate Angry Customers
Angry customers can be damaging to your business, and are quick to shout about their experience on social media and other forums. Dealing with angry customers can be frustrating, but if you offer them some kind of compensation for their bad experience – you might just be able to retain them for future purchases. A discount coupon, some money back or a free gift on their next order could help to placate an angry individual and help them to calm down. Try to follow up after the initial contact to see if there’s something further that can be done to improve their experience.
Offer Incentives to Your Employees
Standards can easily slip when motivation is lost, and while a salary is a great motivator for your employees – having other rewards could help to keep them on their toes. Offering customer service incentives can help to keep your employees motivated to perform well and that demonstrating best practice has its rewards. Bonuses, gift cards and other valuable rewards can have a big effect on your employees, and should be enough for them to up their customer service game.
Always Be Professional
When someone starts getting angry with you, it’s hard not to take it personally. However, engaging in a negative way could lead to bad press quickly, harming the reputation of your business. Even if the person is in the wrong, you should always try to maintain calm and respectful towards the complainant and keep your language professional. In most cases, an angry customer will back down if they realize there’s no fight involved, and start becoming more accepting of a resolution.
Go the Extra Mile
Customers remember experiences where someone has gone the extra mile to help them. While doing the bare minimum is fine, going above and beyond is where people will remember you. It’s worth taking a look at some examples of good customer service to help you see the different ways established businesses are helping their customers, and making headlines in the process.
Maintaining excellent customer service standards is a must for any business. Even if you run a small business, customer service can bring personality and professionalism to your business – helping it to compete with the big leagues. Focus on improving your customer service strategy to help things move forward and to get the best from your business. Customers are at the heart of your business, so make sure you give them the service they deserve.