The customer experience is one that speaks volumes about a business. For that very reason, we chose this topic to be the first in our 4-part series called “The Secrets Behind Employee Success”. A company’s defining success factor or USP isn’t just its price or product – it’s the level of customer service it provides. In fact, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience. The 9th edition of Adobe and Econsultancy’s research on Digital Trends found that providing personalized, first-class customer service is as necessary for competitive differentiation as it is for a company’s mere survival.
Yet, many employers lose sight of client satisfaction by getting caught up in the nitty-gritty of running a company and providing tech-savvy products. While large companies, particularly monopolies (like Con Edison), can enjoy a steady stream of customers without feeling obligated to keep their customers happy, start-ups or small employers can’t afford to make this mistake. As a small business, prioritizing customer satisfaction will produce loyalty and trust in your brand, leading to word-of-mouth promos, 5-star ratings and reviews, and potential for continuous revenue.
Knowing Your Customers is Key to Serving Them Well
In the words of Shep Hyken, bestselling author and customer service expert, “10 years ago, customer service was appreciated – today, it’s expected.” With the emergence of thousands of businesses every few months, the customer has more buying power now than ever before. To give yourself a little extra “oomph”, get to know your customers and what they want. They’ll appreciate your effort, and you’ll be rewarded with a haloed reputation (and sizable profits).
- They want MORE – Your customer doesn’t simply want your product or service. They want you to keep them engaged by personalized offers, discounts, and tailored experiences that they can boast about. Don’t stop with enticing them – follow-up and find out what they liked or disliked about your product without pestering or spamming them. A quick phone call to say you’re giving them a discount for being a loyal customer and/or beginning a conversation by asking about their day is enough to keep them coming back. Less can easily be more, in this case.
- They’ve got plenty of options – Since consumerism is at an all-time high, you can safely bet that each of your customers is spoilt for choice. At the push of a button, people can pick and choose what they want from a variety of good products. Make it your mission to be their best option. Providing a delightful customer service experience (both online and face-to-face) will give you an extremely competitive edge.
- They want you to be available – As with any other relationship, you want to make sure your customers know you’re there for them. Virtual assistants (preferably a good mix of bots and actual people) and 24/7 hotlines assure your clients that they can count on you for prompt support and help.
“The Customer is Always Right”
It is crucial that you and your company do everything possible to keep your customers happy. Econsultancy founder Ashley Friedman considers customer experience “…as much a mindset and business philosophy as a discipline”. This mindset has to flow from top to bottom – if management embodies the right approach, employees will follow suit and the whole company will shift from being customer-focused, to customer-committed.
After all, customers are the lifeblood of any business. With this attitude, there is no room for defensive, egoistic behavior. Instead, the client is always given priority, which translates well with your customers (who will definitely notice and appreciate it).
Employ T.E.C.D. Customer Service Reps
Bad customer service representatives drastically diminish the worth of your product or service. A recent PwC report found that one in three buyers said they would turn their backs on their favorite brands after just one bad customer experience. With such a tolerance for bad service, it is vital that your representatives are right for this job. They need to be:
- Technical – Although the “customer is always right” approach is a good mentality, there are times when the customer doesn’t fully understand the issue. At these times, employees must know the product’s technicalities thoroughly enough to navigate through the customer’s frustration and find out what’s wrong. Probing questions will help the customer articulate the root of the issue at hand.
- Empathetic – A good representative must be a good listener. It’s as important to make customers feel understood and heard as it is to provide a solution. A simple apology along with a plan to swiftly attend to the customer’s needs is an effective way to turn down the tension and save the relationship.
- Communicative – While your customer service representatives must understand the technical details of the situation at hand, the customer doesn’t necessarily want to know those details. They just want to leave the conversation feeling satisfied that their issue was handled and solved by a well-informed expert. To that end, it’s critical that the employee communicates difficult topics in an easy-to-understand manner without making the customer feel overwhelmed or belittled. Follow-up communication through email or phone calls to ensure whether the problem has been sorted is equally valuable. The happiness of the customer is most important, not their technical understanding of the issue.
- Detail-oriented – The customer-service field is one that focuses on the tiny details. Employees should be able to sift through often disconnected or convoluted facts, and determine the steps to be taken towards resolving the issue. With limited information, they must locate root causes and offer viable solutions. This is a skill that tends to develop on the job, but simple habits like note-taking and listening attentively further contribute towards creating an ideal customer experience.
Never Say Never
Always show customers that you appreciate their patronage of your business. The best way to do so is to acknowledge their issues, no matter how big or small. Your employees must treat the client like they’re the most important person of the day – let them know their problem is your priority and that everything possible will be done to solve it. If the problem really is more than can be handled, get back to them as soon as the required information has been obtained from the appropriate sources.
Nip incorrect behaviour in the bud
If an employee fails to follow protocol in handling a client’s problem, swiftly correct that employee’s error before it turns into a habit. A common pitfall many customer service representatives make when they are rushed into the job is to learn a skill incorrectly without being speedily informed of the right way to do it. Whether it’s detailing a case with the client or transferring a client over to the right department, habitual failure to perform a task accurately can easily break bridges with that client and limit your potential for referrals.
Small businesses are set apart by their ability to lend a human touch despite the technological world we live in. Offering convenient, speedy, friendly service will have customers coming back no matter the cost. In fact, consumers are willing to pay as much as 16% more on products, just for a better buying experience. Clearly, customer service is a fast-growing avenue that is worth investing in. Training your employees to be well-equipped to deal with clients is easier than you’d think, with the customer service training modules provided by HR Learns For Work.
While customers are the lifeblood of your business, your employees are the body. Stay tuned for the next article in this series and find out how you can keep your employees stress-free, motivated, and driven in the workplace.
For more details, visit our website to learn about our curated training products for you and your company.