It’s not an exaggeration to say that customer service can make or break a sale. More importantly, it can make or break the overall customer experience and satisfaction rating. You can have a great product or offer an amazing service, but if it’s hard to order or challenging to do an exchange, people leave frustrated. On the other hand, if you provide a great customer service experience, even a customer with a problem may walk away a fan.
So how do you build a great customer service experience? We’ve got 4 tips for you.
Develop Customer Service as a Company Value
Companies that value a positive customer service experience—and don’t just pay lip service to it—find it pays off. Valuing customer care doesn’t mean having the right number of customer service reps. Customer service permeates a company, so everybody in the company in any department and at any level understands that creating a positive customer experience is their job.
That might look like the person in one department delivering you to the right person to answer your question. It could look like “going the extra mile” or “going above and beyond” trying to track down a particular product or find a solution to a tech issue. It often looks like “let’s figure this out” instead of “not my job” or “sorry, can’t help you.”
I recently called Apple for some support with an issue connecting with third-party service. Although they didn’t solve the problem, I got off the call satisfied that we had exhausted all possibilities and that I had the information I needed to move forward.
Make Communication Simple
Communication is critical when it comes to customer service. The first step is to make it easy to communicate. Communication can be challenging for small to mid-sized businesses who don’t have 24/7 staff. See 3 Touch Points Every Business Needs for tips on overcoming staffing and budget issues for great customer communication.
Beyond that, make communication friendly, personal, and positive. It’s maddening for customers to feel like they are being read the wrong script and that their question or problem isn’t really being addressed. Pay attention to transitions. What happens when you transfer a call? Do people get where they need to go? Is it clear to them how long they will wait? What happens if a customer flags down a server for their check but it’s not their server? Do they get brushed off or does your staff communicate to help the customer? Your goal is to make sure everyone is working to help the customer.
Listen to Customers
One of the most important things you can do to improve customer service is listen to customers. Train your people to listen to customers during interactions whether that’s a quick consult, a sale, or a customer service call.
- What questions do people ask again and again?
- What concerns do they have about the service or product?
- What problems are they having?
- If they call with a complaint, why are they frustrated?
- What do they need to be satisfied?
Some companies ask for feedback after a sale or after a service call. Response rates may vary, but they can yield useful information if you ask the right questions.
Increasingly listening to customers means monitoring social media. What are people saying on your Facebook page? What are they tweeting about you? What kinds of reviews are they giving you on other sites you are listed on? Handling this kind of public response is part of customer service these days.
Once you have the information use it to improve your systems. That may mean adding information to your website to answer questions or including notes or tips to help people over areas of concern. It may mean empowering all employees to respond to complaints.
Meet and Beat Expectations
You’ve heard the old adage “underpromise and overdeliver”? This concept is a core component of customer satisfaction. When you don’t meet expectations, people are minimally disappointed and their view of your company goes down. While you want to make the promises that seal the deal on a sale, if you don’t deliver as promised, you’ll lose repeat business and word of mouth benefits. That’s why marketing isn’t a department—it’s a company-wide focus.
To meet expectations, make sure everyone in your company knows what is expected—quality, timeline, follow up. Set up systems to make sure you reach those goals. Have a plan to repair the customer connection if you don’t meet the expectation.
To beat expectations, give a little something extra. Add a bonus item in with an order. Check in to see if a replacement item was satisfactory. Do more than expected in fixing an error. 31 Bits did that masterfully. I received the wrong necklace and called to see if I could exchange it. Within two days, I had the piece I wanted, wasn’t charged the difference between the two pieces, and got a handwritten note. The simple exchange would have left me a satisfied customer, but the prompt service and personal touch turned me into a full-fledge fan.
For more tips on creating a great customer service experience from start to finish, check out the 3 touch points every business needs.
Marketing isn’t just your ad campaign or what you say on your web site. It encompasses every interaction customers have with your company. Modi Marketing uses this holistic approach to plan, execute, and create systems that propel you forward. If the customer service experience isn’t part of your marketing plan, it should be. If you want to step up your customer service experience, Let’s Talk.