7 tips for better customer service (and customer loyalty)
This growth tip was inspired by an article in Fast Company magazine, written by the author of the book: Exceptional Service - Exceptional Profit.
First (and last) impressions matter
Research shows that customers remember the first and last moments of their interactions with you more vividly than the rest of it. Make sure the first and last elements of your customer interactions are a well-engineered, well documented process that all your team follow - because they are going to stick in the customer's memory.
People want to deal with people – not machines
Seriously, how many people are you annoying with your automated voice answering system? Allow your customers to connect with a real person – whether they are phoning you, or asking for help from your website. A lack of visual and tactile presence makes it even more crucial to create a sense of personal, human-to-human connection. A real person answering the phone, or responding with an IM chat message on the help screen of your website creates a great first impression.
Are you making the most of your CRM?
Have you effectively captured your communication history with each customer, their contact details, roles, goals, and preferences? Do you make this information easy to collect, or do you require people to fill out laborious forms? Is this information up to date and readily available to anyone in your company who may be dealing with that customer? It is vital that you make your customers feel remembered, cared for, and important in all your interactions with them.
Check your language
Don't leave the language your team uses up to chance. Swearing, colloquial language, and jokey terms may be fine with your friends – but this is business. Develop and rehearse phrases that fit your brand perfectly and ban the ones that don't. The expression "no worries!" may sound fine coming from the corner store, but would sound seriously "off" coming from a professional service firm.
Customer service is a hard job
Finding and keeping the right staff for customer-facing roles is a key to customer excellence. Not all people are wired to deal with customers effectively. Hire for behavioral profiles, rather than for specific skills (which can be taught). You want to fill such roles with people who are naturally good listeners, empathetic, optimistic, and who genuinely enjoy helping people.
Real time is all there is
Modern customers expect companies to respond to their issues fast. In this age of smartphones and social media you need to make it easy for people to communicate with you on their platform of choice – be vigilantly monitoring online conversations about your brand - and be able to respond to them in real time.
Anticipate their needs
When you proactively meet their unexpressed needs, it conveys the message that you are paying attention to them and that you care about the customer as an individual. That cared-for feeling is where you generate brand advocates who will spread positive word of mouth conversations about your brand.
What are you going to do to pro-actively meet a customer’s unexpressed need today?