A business can be nothing without its customers. Whether they are high-end clients, repeat staples or one-off transactions, customers are customers, and all should be treated with the respect and benefit to your business that they deserve.
Quite simply, poor customer service will eventually spell the end of an organization – according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, customers who are the victims of an unhappy experience will tell 9 to 15 people about it. No business can survive with that type of negative outcome, so instead here are some great customer service ideas that can contribute to effective growth in your business.
Have the right tools in place
Customer service starts with the means by which customers can contact you. In a physical location, no one likes to be told that there is no manager on duty. Similarly, in the digital world, having no chat option, for example, can exasperate customers from the beginning. It may be difficult to retrieve the situation from there, so ensure the right tools are in place to deal with customer queries and complaints.
Don’t pass the problem on
Another common issue is locating the person who can actually resolve an issue. It’s the old scenario of being on the phone to your bank and being passed on from agent to agent, frequently having to repeat the same information. Ensure that the first point of contact takes ownership of the issue. Even if they cannot resolve the issue themselves, make sure they stay with the customer for as long as possible in the resolution process.
Engage on social media
Social media can create all manner of problems for customers in that negative comments can be spread like never before. Do not ignore what is said about you on social media, but instead try to engage with customers in a meaningful way. For example, if a customer complains on an open forum, respond as quickly as possible on that forum, offering to take the resolution process to a more private place. Respond timely and respectfully, always remembering that there is more at stake than the opinion of one solitary customer (who is still important).
In order to improve, continuous development processes must be in place. And in order to improve, real customer experiences need to analyzed, so engage in the collection of as much feedback as is possible to enact the necessary changes.
Automate, but not to the detriment of other avenues
Automation of CRM systems can resolve many of the issues that arise in the field of customer services, but at the same time, appreciate that people may also want to engage directly with other people too. The problem with technology is that when it is overdone, it can seem impersonal and disconnected. “Use a blend of efficient automation systems and real-life interventions to offer the best level of customer service, knowing when to use one and when to use the other,” recommends Stephen Collins, a support team operator at Australia 2 write.
Keep communication simple
So many customer service approaches fall down because the communication levels utilized are overcomplicated, jargon-filled, or just plain weak.
If something cannot be explained simply, then the customer service agent gives the appearance of not understanding it themselves, which is a poor look for a company.
Keep all communication practices concise, simple, and always polite. And never ever give someone a solution that you know to be unworkable. “If the solution requires time and further expertise, this is the message that must be communicated as early as is possible,” explains Faye Daltrey, a project manager at Brit student.
Customers need to be rewarded. Don’t be unprepared to give a little extra from time to time to show appreciation. This is a model that works in the long run. Short-termism never wins the day.
Invest in customer services
This is a simple piece of advice, yet one that so many businesses fail to heed. If you do not invest in this vital practice, then you cannot hope to deliver the level of service that customers expect and demand.
Katrina Hatchett is a business and marketing blogger at PhD Kingdom and Next Coursework with a particular interesting in the art of communication.