When was the last time you had a really great customer service experience with a company? The type that leaves you smiling and excited to return? It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
While most business owners understand that excellent customer service is the lifeblood of any business, not everyone knows what exactly makes for a great customer experience in the minds of consumers, and even those who do can’t always make the magic happen. On this page, we’ll go over the proven ways to deliver the best customer service, so you can improve customer loyalty and retention, reduce negative feedback, and build a stronger business.
Why is Customer Service Important?
Overall, Americans are willing to spend 17 percent more with a company they’ve had positive experiences with per American Express. People are also more likely to share information about poor negative experiences than positive ones, which impacts online reviews and influences the decisions of potential new customers.
These sentiments were echoed when Twitter researchers followed up in a blind study with people who complained about airlines and wireless carriers on the platform. However, they also discovered an interesting link to loyalty. Not only were customers more likely to pay more when a customer service rep or employees from the company they complained about responded and went the extra mile, but they were also more likely to choose that brand over competitors. That’s huge because countless studies have shown it’s far more cost-effective to keep an existing customer than attract a new one.
10 Ways to Deliver Great Customer Service
Clearly, there’s something to be said for having happy customers, but what does great customer service mean? It can be hard to describe, but it usually involves hitting on these ten areas.
1. Know Your Products and Services Very Well
Delivering a swift resolution on the first try is one of the quickest ways to win over a customer. In fact, 32 percent and 20 percent of customers say these are the most important traits in customer service reps per American Express. However, the only way these goals can be met is if your customer support team has a deep understanding of your products and services.
2. Resolve Queries or Complaints as Quickly as Possible
Customers’ expectations with response times are high, and the clock starts ticking as soon as someone reaches out. Almost 40 percent of customers expect to wait five minutes or less on the phone, and nearly a quarter say that’s their max in person, per Amex. Twitter’s research shows speed influences spend as well. When companies took an hour or more to respond to a Tweet, customers were only willing to spend an additional $2.33 for an airline ticket later. However, if the company responded within five minutes, the average jumped to nearly $20.
3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
People are incredibly adept at detecting emotions. Researchers have found that we can detect emotion over the phone with a high degree of accuracy. In some studies, people have actually proven to be more accurate at gauging emotions when they don’t have visual cues. Using positive language is a good start, but it’s not enough alone. People pick up on the nuances of a voice, background sounds, and even breathing to gain clues about what might be happening on the other end of the line. For this reason, it’s essential for customer service teams to genuinely feel good at work and take breaks when they’re feeling tapped out.
While some sources also suggest the use of emojis and similar can be beneficial in written communication too, it’s important to tailor your approach to your brand and the situation at hand. Professionalism should remain the priority, particularly in sensitive industries like healthcare, finance, and law.
4. Be Mindful of What a Customer is Saying
An interesting find from the Twitter study was that customers didn’t always need a resolution for the exchange to be considered positive or for the company to benefit. Sometimes, customers simply want to vent and be understood.
Listen actively to each concern and repeat back to the customer what you believe their concern to be. It shows them that you hear them and can eliminate any confusion about what they want or need.
5. Be Proactive When Reaching Out to Customers
Does your company offer a product or service that can take people some time to adapt to fully? Consider creating an onboarding process in which your team proactively reaches out to customers to see how they’re doing.
Each time you engage, look for additional ways to help the customer. Are they getting the maximum value from your offerings? Can you teach them something that will help them get more benefits or make their life easier? One-in-five people say these kinds of exchanges are major contributors to a great experience, according to Amex.
6. Make Sure it’s Convenient for Customers to Contact You
Many business owners think it’s easy for customers to get in touch, but they never go through the process themselves. Consider the various ways customers may try to reach you. Phone, live chat, call center and email are obvious choices, but bear in mind that certain demographics lean toward channels like social media, text messaging, and self-service portals.
Take some time to create buyer personas or imaginary customers and imagine how each person would reach you and why. Then go through the process yourself. You may find incorrect or conflicting information on various sources or bottlenecks that can slow your speed of service.
7. Focus on Personalized Interaction
Want a 20 percent satisfaction boost? According to McKinsey research, personalized service will do it. Large corporations have the advantage here because they can tap into tech that intuitively assesses customers’ needs and delivers the right resources to help. Big companies have the budget to create a seamless omnichannel experience too. But, that doesn’t mean personalization can’t happen at scale.
Ensure each representative takes excellent notes, so it’s easy for anyone on the team to follow up down the line if need be. Familiarize yourself with customer accounts before you get on the phone to ensure you can provide them with information relevant to their needs. If you don’t already offer one, look into creating a loyalty program that allows you to thank your customers in a meaningful way.
8. Have Customer Empathy
Empathy is one of the most important communication skills, but it’s often overlooked. Again, many consumers involved in the Twitter survey were satisfied simply because a customer service representative from the company they complained about responded to their negative tweet. They were happy just because someone cared enough to listen and respond. Moreover, their future buying decisions were made in these customer interactions (or lack thereof). To capitalize on this phenomenon, keep an empathetic ear when you’re responding to customers on all channels. It makes a huge difference in how customers respond to you and how they’ll view your company in the future.
9. Follow Through
Your business may already have an established process for following up with customers. Maybe representatives are supposed to mail information or give a follow-up call in a few days. Or, perhaps the follow-through simply involves notifying the right people internally to address a concern. Don’t assume it’s actually happening, even if people say it is. Perform an audit and follow the chain to ensure any required follow-ups are really occurring.
It’s also a good idea to have some type of customer feedback program, so you can keep a pulse on what’s happening. Always respond to bad customer service experience reports as outlined throughout this article. When you get reports of good customer service experiences, make a big deal out of them internally. It shows the team what you value and boosts morale, which, as you now know, influences customer satisfaction and loyalty too.
10. Embody it and Train Your Team
Exceptional customer service starts at the highest levels of your company. When your customer service professionals see the reverence with which you treat your customers, are given customer service skills training, and have the ability to make decisions that consistently benefit the customer, they will follow suit.
Get the Funding You Need to Boost Customer Service from Charter Capital
Whether you want to grow by bringing in more customer service reps, building a loyalty program, or simply want to give your customers favorable payment terms without having to wait months for their check, Charter Capital can help, which will provide great customer service. Our invoice factoring services give you up-front cash for your unpaid B2B invoices that you can use in whatever way makes the most sense for your business. For more information or to get the ball rolling, request a complimentary quote.