Exceptional customer service is essential for businesses of all sizes. This quick guide unveils the key principles behind good customer service and its significance to the overall success of a business. Learn how to provide enduring positive customer experiences that resonate, foster loyalty, and propel your business toward sustained success.
Be accessible and responsive
Customer service — whether it’s run by a whole department or just you — needs to be accessible and responsive to customers. How easily customers can contact your business and how quickly they receive a response are key factors in their decision to be loyal to you or move onto another brand.
Make it easy for customers to contact you
If a customer needs help making a purchase, using your product, returning a product, or even lodging a complaint, they should be able to do so easily. Information for contacting customer service should be clear on your site, on your sales receipts, and in your store. Consider offering multiple ways for customers to contact you so they can choose which works best for them. Some options include the phone, email, web forms, online chat, and social media messaging.
Monitor all communications
Not responding to an inquiry should not be an option. You don’t want someone who was unable to reach you via phone to then email and wait days without getting a response. This may motivate them to take the situation public by posting on your social media accounts. At that point, you’d have to both respond to an angry customer and do some cleanup of your reputation. To avoid this scenario, only offer the communication channels you’re able to monitor and make sure that an employee is always monitoring and responding.
Respond in a timely manner
A 2022 survey showed that 70% of consumers believe that a same-day response is an acceptable wait time for customer service questions. Keep this number in mind when planning your response to customers. One helpful technique to respond to customers is to automate a response on your email account and social platforms letting customers know you’ve received their message and giving them an estimated response time frame. If you are not able to always answer when customers call, make sure your voicemail message indicates an estimated callback time frame. Setting this expectation lets customers know they are important to you and can help reduce frustration while they await your response.
Utilize technology and external services as needed
There are many options for getting help if you cannot respond quickly and effectively to inbound communications, including:
- Implementing a CRM system. A customer relationship management (CRM) system helps businesses manage interactions with customers through automated reporting and data analysis. With this information at your disposal, customer communications are streamlined and optimized.
- Hiring a call center. A call center is a great solution
for businesses that require help for customers with needs outside their
internal capabilities. Call centers can offer specialized support and
multilingual assistance, and the people who work there are experts in
swift issue resolution.
- Outsourcing administrative support. Outsourcing admin
support allows a business to focus on core operations, which can be a
cost-effective choice if a lot of time is usually taken up with
repetitive admin tasks.
Value customer feedback
The best way to understand how well you are serving your
customers is to get their input. Giving them ways to communicate their
experience and opinions will also help them to feel valued. There are
several channels for gathering customer feedback:
Follow up on recent purchases
How might a customer feel if they receive a “thank you”
message from you within 24 hours of making their purchase? Technology
makes it easy to follow up to ensure a customer is happy, give them a
way to ask questions, and encourage them to review your company. You can
text them, send an email, or message them on social media. Your
audience demographics should help you to determine the best way to
Create spaces for dialogue
Rather than talking at your customers, engage them. Make
your social media accounts places where you and your customers share
comments and photos of your product and other things related to your
industry. Invite customers to take surveys to help you improve your
product and business, and ask happy customers to post reviews.
Great service is an expectation, which is why it’s important to go above and beyond to build and retain loyal customers.
Respond to reviews
Getting online reviews improves your search engine rankings and helps potential customers assess your business. How you respond to these reviews helps consumers get to know you. Monitor review sites, learn from the feedback posted, and respond in a timely and appropriate manner to both positive and negative reviews.
[Read more: A Complete Guide to Managing Online Reviews]
Turn negative customer experiences into positive ones
To remedy a negative customer experience, first take immediate action by addressing the issue sincerely. Follow up promptly, ensuring the problem is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Think of customer feedback as a valuable learning tool to refine internal processes. Use what you learn to enhance future experiences, improving processes with staff training if necessary. Consistent communication and genuine effort to rectify the situation help rebuild trust and pave the way for better customer interactions.
Showing appreciation to customers fosters loyalty and can lead to repeat sales. Through personalized experiences, exclusive rewards, and more, customers can build a positive, trusting relationship with your business.
Personalize the customer experience
Each of your customers is unique. Some are brand new while others have been with you for years. Some spend a lot at one time and others make many small purchases over time. Your customers’ selection of products varies, as do the ways they want to learn more about your offerings (e.g., through email, social media, website visits, etc.). Review data of your customers’ purchases and preferences so that you can communicate with them in a more personal manner.
Create a loyalty program
What better way to demonstrate appreciation than by rewarding repeat business? Set up a loyalty program that not only shows that you value your customer but also incentivizes them to purchase from you again (such as through a points program) or to rave about you to friends (such as through referral rewards).
Spotlight your customers
If you want to make current customers feel valued while also attracting new prospects, consider a customer spotlight. This can be a regular showcase on social media, a blog, or even an in-store bulletin board. A good spotlight shows customers that you’re proud to serve them and that you value their business.
Give out company swag
Company swag doubles as a tangible token of appreciation to customers and as a tool for brand awareness. These gifts can be mailed, distributed at special events, or given as a reward for certain purchases. Get creative with gift ideas, or keep it simple with things like logo sunglasses or stickers.
Host client appreciation events
Hosting client appreciation events offers a personalized platform to strengthen relationships. Face-to-face interactions build trust, enhance loyalty, and provide opportunities for valuable feedback. However, if an in-person event isn’t possible, online meetups are still a good way to interact with clients. These events can create a memorable experience for attendees, ultimately driving customer retention and advocacy for the business.
[Read more: 5 Ways to Build Trust with Your Customers]
Empower your team
Great service is an expectation, which is why it’s important to go above and beyond to build and retain loyal customers. Equipping employees with tools for client-facing success is vital. By providing the necessary resources and training, you ensure consistent customer interactions, enhance service quality, and bolster overall client satisfaction. Here’s what you can do to make an impact:
Hire the right people
Hire people with the attributes and skills needed to succeed in their specific roles. While this is easier said than done, it boils down to hiring employees who can problem-solve, adapt, and effectively communicate. Prioritizing these qualities during the hiring process ensures a team that can handle diverse situations while still delivering superior service to the client.
Model and promote the behaviors you want to see
Promoting desired behaviors requires leadership to serve as an example. This means showing empathy and patience for employees and customers alike. When an employee goes through training, have them observe ideal interactions that they can model in their own day-to-day operations.
Prioritize employee development
Employee training should not only cover the customer service basics but company knowledge as well. Conduct these training sessions periodically so that knowledge isn’t lost and your team can continue to learn and grow.
Talk with your employees
The easiest way to build rapport with employees is to talk with them and, more importantly, listen. These interactions can unveil knowledge gaps and help you develop targeted training methods. When building relationships with your employees, this open dialogue also cultivates trust and enhances job satisfaction.
Customer service at its core is about valuing your customers and ensuring helpful two-way communication. Paying attention to this area of your business can go a long way toward building a loyal customer base and a positive reputation.
This story was originally written by Kaylee Kolditz.
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