As a small business owner, you know that customer service is one of the hallmarks of your business. Good customer service strategies make you stand out from the competition and bring customers back time and time again. The types of customer service you focus on can make or break you.
Each year, companies in the United States lose over $62 billion in revenue because of bad customer service. What if you could turn that number upside down and gain loyal customers because of excellent service? What types of customer service are good and what aren’t so good?
To gain a reputation for excellent customer service, you’ll need a strategy — or several. You won’t waste time by investing in good customer service. Here are six types of customer service strategies to get you started.
1. Train Your Workforce
Have you visited Disney World in Florida recently? Ask any cast member — employee — a question and they will likely know the answer or get the answer for you. They are highly trained to make the park guest experience the absolute best experience imaginable, and that means they get trained in many different areas. Not only do they have the basic information any guest might need, but they deliver that info with a smile and pleasant attitude.
If you spend the time to train your workforce, you can recreate this type of customer-first experience. Do your employees fully understand how the company works as a whole? Take the time to ensure that if someone in your gadget department gets asked about something in your gizmos department, they can easily answer the question and then direct the consumer to the right person. Make sure employees understand that without the customer there is no company and no job.
2. Expend Energy on Unhappy Customers
Did you know that unhappy customers are more likely to tell others about their negative experiences than happy customers are to share theirs? On top of that, if you have one unhappy customer, there are 26 other unhappy ones who didn’t say anything to you about their disappointment. Look at the complaining customer as a valuable tool to help you improve as a company.
Train your staff to practice an empathy-first mentality when working with angry or upset customers. Start by apologizing to them for the inconvenience they have experienced, no matter whether your company is ultimately at fault. Listen to their complaints calmly, restate their concerns back to them, and ask questions to clarify your understanding.
From there, it is vital to have a process in place to handle angry or upset customers. Don’t transfer the call ten times and force them to wait. Instead, escalate an irate customer right to the top of the chain, where the person they reach can easily resolve their problem and turn that unhappy experience into a positive one.
3. Coddle Current Customers
Take the time to reach out to your current customers. Send a birthday card out just because. Phone them and ask how they’re enjoying their purchase. Offer them specials and favorite customer discounts that no one else gets. If your sales team has direct contact with customers, train the team to jot down personal details and follow up by asking about the child who just graduated high school or the new baby in the family.
Selling to an existing customer is much more likely than selling to a new lead. In fact, your chances of selling to a satisfied customer you already have is about 14 times higher than selling to a new customer. If you put the time and effort into keeping current customers happy and making them feel appreciated, they are likely to stick by your side over the years.
4. Offer Proactive Service
In the past, most companies offered a reactive type of customer service model. The company simply waited until the customer called and complained. If there was no complaint, then the business owner assumed there wasn’t an issue and the customer was completely satisfied. This isn’t good enough in the age of digital information.
Today, you can look at common customer complaints and figure out if there is an issue with your product that needs rectifying. If you find a problem, figure out a fix and then reach out to the customer before they experience the problem. This shows that you care about the customer even after a completed purchase.
5. Get Personal
If you can personalize the experience for consumers, they’ll end up more likely to do business with you. In one study, if customers had a personal interaction with a company, then 77 percent of them were more likely to recommend the business to those they knew.
One way to create a personal experience is to address the customer by name. However, you should also pay attention to what they’ve ordered in the past and their personal preferences. Imagine getting an email that says, “Hey, Mary. We noticed you love the color blue and we just got in these blue sandals.” That is much more personal than simply sending a note about blue sandals.
6. Respond on Social Media
Come up with an Omni-Channel response that allows you to reach out to customers no matter where they contact you with a concern. A strong database allows you to make notes on a customer and ensure follow-up. Also, if the customer contacts you via more than one channel, every person they speak with will be on the same page and already have their information.
People who follow a brand on social media may expect an almost immediate response to any posts that tag the company. Train representatives to quickly respond to concerns and empower them to solve the problem for the customer. This type of goodwill goes a long way toward creating a positive image with consumers.
Customer Service Strategies
The best customer service strategies are the ones that reflect your philosophy as a business owner. Study what the most successful businesses in your industry offer customers. How can you repeat this success? Which strategies make the most sense for you and your business?
With a little practice, your customers will walk away happy. They’ll also end up much more likely to tell others about the amazing customer service you offer.