Good customer service is vital to sustaining any company. If you’ve ever been to a store or restaurant and were treated rudely or received slow, inept service, you know it’s unlikely you’ll ever go back, no matter how good the food or how much of a bargain you’re getting. The same is true of online shopping experiences, and negative results in an online search will only turn prospects away. Good service, on the other hand, leads to satisfied customers and referrals. Here are some ways to improve your customer service.
Exceeding expectations means the difference between merely satisfying a customer and delighting a customer. That means pursuing and following up as soon as possible on questions or problems that can’t be answered simply. Personal touches as simple as a hand-written note of appreciation or a follow-up email to verify the customer is satisfied can make their day. Even things like providing small giveaways or giving discounts that wouldn’t normally apply can put a smile on a customer at a cheap cost. Given a choice between two merchants, people will nearly always return to the one that provides better service.
How customers feel they are treated impacts 70 percent of purchase decisions. Even if a customer is short-tempered, try to put yourself in their position. Take each situation seriously and handle it right away. Defuse bad feelings by listening and expressing sympathy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or escalate the situation if it means pleasing the customer. Bald refusals or reciting procedures will only alienate angry customers further. Some companies try to smooth over frustration by offering gift certificates; it’s certainly more cost-effective in the long run than turning off customers.
Not everyone is willing to contact a call center; customers don’t want to navigate automated menus only to be left on hold. To overcome this, provide additional means for them to reach out to you, such as including click-to-chat buttons on the company website. This can put customers in direct communication with a representative. While it may be a little slower, the process of typing in questions and responses tends to create more brief and thoughtful communications. This can help to improve service times and reduce volatile emotions, while providing customers an additional medium they’ll appreciate.
Hardly anyone fills out courtesy cards anymore, but customer feedback is still a valuable means of gathering insights and suggestions from your customers on a variety of topics. Collect email addresses so that you can push out survey links to customers that ask questions about the services they’ve received, where, when, and what made it special or disappointing. You could even offer an incentive for filling it out, such as a digital coupon or a free product trial. Instituting a loyalty program and offering reward points in exchange for taking surveys also works.
If you don’t offer returns or warranties, it might be something to consider. Standing behind your product creates a greater sense of confidence and trust. Just be sure that all your customer service agents are familiar with these policies and any changes so that the customer isn’t met with surprises. All information, including any time frames or conditions, should also be clearly stated in writing and online. It comes down to making sure that everyone is honoring the promises you make.
Good customer service doesn’t require unreasonable sacrifice and effort on your part. There are customer service providers that can ensure a quality, personalized services and solutions. This way you can offer great customer experiences without the headaches. A better customer experience should always be the goal.