Nothing sabotages business growth quite like poor customer service. From failing to help a potential customer find a product or answers, to securing a sale from a prospect, to turning organic word of mouth marketing into a potential nightmare there are pitfalls at each stage of the customer journey where an excellent experience can turn sour.
Sadly, studies repeatedly show that the majority of businesses are failing dramatically to deliver great customer service.
Yet delivering a stellar customer experience doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, professional customer service in comes down to the same basic principles that make us like and trust individuals. Things like courtesy, manners, attentiveness and a willingness to work together to try and find a satisfactory outcome to any problem or query.
If you feel that these things are lacking from the general public, I’m afraid that’s a larger issue. Here, though, are six concrete areas of focus to speak to your own staff about in order to raise their customer service game.
Almost all of us are suffering from the strain of working in an environment where we are exposed to a brain-crushing amount of information. Our inboxes are overflowing, the phone keeps ringing, there are new things to learn, our todo list is never done and we are constantly distracted by a stream of intrusions both on and offline that compete for our attention. When it comes to customer service, that’s not an excuse for not paying attention to the issue that is presented to you by a customer.
Nothing is more frustrating for a customer who is already having a less-than-ideal experience than feeling like they are not being heard.
Make sure your staff read every email or message, or listen to a caller carefully to fully understand the problem.
Have a Dedicated Point of Contact
Another pain point that can quickly fray customer tempers and drive frustration up a notch is having to repeat an issue to multiple people within a company.
Wherever possible, equip your staff and structure your support workflow in a way that will let a customer deal with a single person from initial contact to resolution. Where this is not practical, explain to your customer clearly when, why and who their issue is being passed on to. Be sure to give the next person in the support journey a full account of all communication that has already occurred, so that they can sound informed when they reach out.
Take a Genuine Interest
Scripted customer service experiences can be practical and efficient, and create a structured and consistent experience for both your staff and your customers. However, they tend to be universally hated by consumers and strip the support experience of any kind of feeling that they are being viewed as a unique individual rather than just another number in a queue.
In a powerful study of customer service across 16 countries, the biggest complaint regarding customer service was a need for “better human service”.
As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it: “People want this level of engagement from the companies with which they do business …
You have to be no less than a customer concierge, doing everything you can to make every one of your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard. You have to make them feel special.”
This can be a tough technique to teach employees, especially for larger companies with heavy support demands, but solving a customer’s issue is always more important than ticking procedural boxes.
Be Easy to Contact
Being able to pick up the phone and speak to someone will always be a crucial part of great customer service, however it isn’t enough. Not by a long shot. You need to offer your customers ways to get help and answers that fit in with their schedules and preferences.
90% of consumers now expect an online business to offer some form of self-help or guided support, with 60% of buyers demanding that this system be easy to use from their smartphones.
Other methods of reaching out to support include live chat, text, email, ticket systems and social media.
Whatever options you offer your customers, make sure that expectations are managed with clearly visible response times and availability.
Stand by a Guarantee
Guarantees are a powerful tool to put a prospective customer’s mind at ease during their shopping experience. They type of guarantee that you use will depend on your business, but bear in mind that the most commonly used slogans such as “100% Satisfaction” or “Money Back” have been so over-used as to dilute their effectiveness. While still powerful factors in the buying decision, they lack the ability to raise your stakes compared to your competitors.
Instead, spend some time thinking about what you can really offer your customers. What are you confident you can deliver, and what are you willing to bet on that? How will your guarantee tie in to your overall brand personality?
Thinking creatively can put your business ahead of the pack. For example, this NeussNews company offers customers a “Happiness Guarantee”, reassuring buyers that they will fulfill a specific list of service delivery criteria to make sure they complete a project to total satisfaction.