Customer service is the key to retaining current customers and attracting new ones. Figuring out ways to provide a positive customer experience (CX) presents a challenge for already business owners. Fortunately, small changes add up over time and make a big difference in your reputation and the satisfaction of customers.
After a poor customer service experience, 49 percent of people switch to a competitor, which translates into lost revenue for you. Improving your customer service helps with both overall branding and customer retention.
Since most business owners are short on time, here are eight simple ways to improve your customer service in less than a day.
1. Create a Customer Service Policy
Your first step in providing excellent customer service ties into knowing your policy toward customers. Write out your plan so everyone on your team understands your philosophy without question.
Next, write out rules for customer service. If you offer a 100 percent money-back guarantee, then train employees to give refunds without question. Know why you provide the service you do and institute rules that line up with the reasons.
Harley Davidson Motorcycles brings anyone who purchases a motorcycle from one of their stores into their “family.” Throughout the year, they offer special events, such as concerts and gatherings as well as benefits such as roadside assistance and a magazine. Harley connects with their customers, creating low churn among those who love their machines.
2. Train Employees
Once your policy is in place, train employees on the ins and outs of your customer service policy. The reason about 30 percent of people switch to a new company includes being passed around to multiple agents, most of whom don’t have an answer to the problem. Repeating their story several times frustrates customers and shows a lack of employee training.
Spend time training employees on policies. If the agent is unable to help the customer, they should share the story in detail with an agent who can help, so the customer doesn’t have to repeat their story again and again.
3. Connect on an Emotional Level
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. You spent a chunk of change on a product or service, and now there’s a problem with it. Think through how you’d want a company to treat you. About 70 percent of the impression a customer walks away with comes from the perception of how a customer feels about their treatment from your brand. Encourage customer service staff to show empathy and connect with customers on a new level.
AE Door & Window Co. reaches out to customers on an emotional level by asking site visitors to imagine a new Clopay door on their home. They also offer a link to where consumers design their own garage doors and preview what those doors look like. Most people are emotionally connected to their homes and AE Door & Window Co. taps into the emotions surrounding home ownership.
4. Adapt to Each Customer
Personalize customer service to each customer. Every person you encounter in your business has a different backstory and different pain points. That grumpy client who calls 10 times a week and complains about anything and everything may have an ill child and need one less frustrating thing in their life.
Take the time to ask customers how they are and what you can do to make their lives easier. You’ll be surprised at how much customers open up and provide you opportunities to show you care. When Mr. Grumpy calls and shares that he is trying to take care of an issue with your product while waiting for his child to finish a chemo treatment at the hospital, you can not only solve the problem with your product, but you can also follow up with a get well card.
Rackspace has the lowest churn rate for customers in the cloud computing industry. One customer service rep heard the person they were on the phone tell someone in the background that they were hungry. She put them on hold and ordered them a pizza. When there was a knock on the door a bit later, she told them it was pizza. Service doesn’t get much more personalized than that!
5. Review Key Contact Points
Review each step in your customer service process and look for weaknesses. Key contact points include:
- Initial Greeting: Greet customers promptly and with cheer.
- Listening to Problem: Train agents to listen to the customer’s complaint. Interruptions frustrate customers and make solving the problem difficult.
- Problem Resolution: Give your agents the power to solve problems in creative ways. Don’t micromanage customer service to the point that they can’t effectively resolve the issue.
- Final Question: Train customer service reps in the last interaction in the process, which should ensure the customer feels satisfied with the resolution.
One of the best ways of identifying weaknesses in your contact points is listening in on a few phone calls. What do you need to improve?
6. Become More Available
The average person spends nearly every second of their day in one activity or another. A working mom sends the kids off to school, rushes to work, grabs the dry cleaning on her lunch break, zooms home to get the kids to after-school activities, feeds everyone dinner, helps with homework and then collapses in exhaustion. She might only think about the problem with an order placed once she finally sits down at the end of that long day.
Make it easy for her to get in touch. Offer a live chat option on your site or add email capability, so she can zip off an email and get a response the next day. While small businesses struggle in staffing 24/7 customer support, you can add a few things to make contacting you a simpler process for today’s busy consumers.
Taylor & Hart sells custom jewelry, so customers often have questions. Ask questions via their live chat feature and meet a specific agent along with a photo of the customer service agent replying. If there isn’t anyone available, the live chat lists when they’ll return and offers the option of filling in a form. Their telephone number appears at the top of the page as well.
7. Go Above and Beyond
It costs more money to attract a new customer than retain a current one. Increasing your customer retention rates by a mere five percent ramps up profits by 25 to 95 percent. Keep current customers by never giving them a reason for leaving. If someone calls with a complaint, go out of your way to solve the issue — and then some.
Once, a grandfather wrote to McDonald’s because one of his granddaughters got a toy in her Happy Meal that his other granddaughter wanted, too. He offered to buy the toy if they could find him one. McDonald’s not only found the exact toy he wanted, but they sent it to the grandfather free of charge. That is going above and beyond and an example of excellent customer service that people remember for many years.
Always do more than you have to and ensure your customers are so thrilled they feel inspired to share your efforts with others.
8. Follow Through
Review your follow-up process today and make any necessary improvements. How do you check up on customers after you’ve solved their problem? At a minimum, your company should reach out with an email or snail mail letter to make sure you still have a happy customer.
Following through takes up only a few minutes of your time, but it’s a step that shows your customers you care about their feelings.
One Step at a Time
Though it feels like an overwhelming task, you can improve your customer service one step at a time. Implement each of the tips above, focusing on one change a day. In just over a week, you’ll have a fantastic customer service program in place. Keeping customers happy requires caring about their feelings and making sure you keep caring long after completing the sale. Keep the customers you have and attract new ones by building up your reputation for caring about your customers.