Excellent customer service is one of the most underrated drivers of growth in modern-day organizations. Companies with high customer retention rates report revenues that grow 5.7 times higher than competitors that lag in customer experience.
So, given the business implications of good customer satisfaction, let’s talk about the most frequent touchpoint – customer service.
Good customer service is key to customer retention. Ninety-six percent of customers who’ve experienced a high-effort service interaction become disloyal to a company.
So how do businesses and teams go about delivering excellent customer service? Let’s understand this better.
Suggested Reading: 11 Signs That You Need to Better Your Customer Experience – Part I
Make empathy a focus point
One of the most important things to keep in mind when trying to take your customer service to the next level is that customers, above all else, want to be heard. They want to feel like they matter. They want to feel like their query is important.
1. Active listening
Active listening is defined as the process by which an employee secures information from a customer. It involves paying attention to the conversation, not interrupting, and taking the time to understand what the speaker is discussing.
Show your customers that you understand. Clarify and repeat what they’re saying to ensure you’re getting to the crux of their issue. Encourage your team to say things like, “That must have been inconvenient” or “I can see why you feel upset.”
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2. Empathy, understanding and consistency
Some customers will be irate. Others will be full of questions. And some will just be chatty. You must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service each time.
Use authentically positive language and try to stay cheerful no matter what. Engage in empathetic conversation. Instead of saying “don’t hit the red box” say “the green box is your best option.” Phrases like “Great question, let me just find out for you” and “I’d love to understand more about your …” work wonders too.
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3. Customer needs
Make sure you are fully meeting your customers’ needs. Remember that not all agents will be able to answer all questions. Set up the necessary escalation channels and empower your agents to tackle those same questions after.
Build an agent-customer matching system, so that you can build relationships with high-frequency callers. Also, offer VIP treatment for your best customers.
Modern consumers want personalization. It’s what drives more sales and customer loyalty. 79% of consumers are more satisfied with programs that offer a high degree of personalization.
Suggested Reading: 11 Ways To Automate Customer Support Without Losing Personalisation
4. Always address customers by name
It sucks to be called “that guy” or “hey girl”, especially when it’s with someone you’ve interacted with for a long time. One of the easiest ways to offer more personalized support & service is to address a customer by their name.
Regardless of where – in person, over the phone, through email, or when coming up with customer surveys, always use a customers’ name. A friendlier approach that doesn’t feel forced humanizes the consumer-business interaction.
5. Use non-generic auto-replies
Automated onboarding sequences are great interactive touchpoints for helping users become familiar with a product. It works especially well if your product has a steep learning curve. But more often than not, these alienate customers, because they feel mechanical and non-human.
Consider alternative approaches. When a customer purchases your product, signs up for a free trial or sends an inquiry, write them an email on behalf of the CEO. Reach out personally to ask how you can help them.
6. Give clients old-fashioned contact
Paul Graham’s famous advice to do things that don’t scale works perfectly for customer service. Things that are not scalable are things that your competitors are not doing.
From upgraded support for your best customers to letters, holiday cards, packages and presents, your customers will notice when you offer service that is unique and distinguished.
Feedback for all
Customer feedback is one of the most important customer service assets your business has at its disposal. Customer feedback is a clear indicator of how happy consumers are with your brand, services, and products overall.
7. Measure, solicit & and analyze feedback
Don’t just wait for clients to leave feedback – be proactive and ask them for it whenever you get an opportunity. Send them a survey after the purchase or interaction with your support team to find how satisfied they were with your service.
And the best way to understand if your customer service is top-notch is to simply ask your customers. Use CSAT and NPS fields through multiple touchpoints to get a clear view about your customer service.
8. Reply to all of it
It’s always a big plus to receive good reviews. But responding to them can help build loyalty and turn a good experience into a great one. Reply to those reviews and let search engines know you’re an active member of the internet community.
And this applies to good reviews and bad. Lots of companies shy away from replying to bad reviews but consider this. What do you have to lose? An empathetic review might turn a bad review into a good one. Maybe, the review hasn’t changed at all, but, you’ve still scored points for replying to begin with.
9. Share feedback across all departments
Customer feedback can play a critical role in the development of other verticals like product and marketing. You can leverage customer feedback data and share it with multiple departments – including management.
A healthy policy that many organizations take up is roping in senior management to put aside time at regular intervals to either participate or analyze gathered customer feedback.
Be upfront and outstanding
10. Communicate and set clear service standards
The first step to communication is making it clear that overcommunication is favored. The same goes for customer service. Set easy to understand and ready to implement policies that you can share with your entire team.
The ability to clearly communicate, either verbally or in writing, is essential to quality customer service. Especially if you are speaking to hundreds of customers on a weekly basis. Answers to your questions should be clear, concise and in a natural tone of voice.
11. Always be available
Be available online, 24*7. On your website, app, social media page, WhatsApp number, wherever.
Businesses, especially companies that work in multiple countries, need to emulate that. By making it easy for customers to contact you, whether through email, call or chat, an always-available company is a company that will sell more.
12. Offer a lenient, straightforward refund policy with a bulletproof guarantee
The riskier it is for a customer to buy your product, the more a guarantee can help assure your customers that you care about their experience.
If you sell a physical product, a refund policy is a great way to communicate that you have trust that your customer will enjoy the product. The more the customers feel they’re protected against risks, the more positively they’re likely to view your brand.
13. Provide a trial period
The conversation around trial periods has moved on from “do trials work?” to “what trial period works best?”. A free trial takes the guesswork and risk out of buying a product.
From enterprises to startups, free trials have become a staple of the business ecosystem. From inside grocery stores to outside conferences, free trials are a great way to build stickiness and loyalty.
Excellent customer service isn’t a “once-implemented-then-over” process. It’s a constant strife towards improvement, and learning plays a significant role in that. Both as a team and as a leader, building a culture of constant learning is key to a successful customer service strategy.
14. Learn from the competition
The most infallible way to be the best at customer service is to be better than everyone else. Understanding what your competition is doing helps you set appropriate baseline metrics to beat, so your customers are better served.
Learning from the competition also allows you to borrow the best parts of their efforts while minimizing potential downsides. Allow employees in your organization to understand what level of customer service the rest of the industry is offering for maximum impact.
15. Know your products and services
A little training goes a long way. While service reps need to be well trained in conflict resolution and de escalation, it is equally important for them to know the ins and outs of the product/service they’re helping clients with.
Training service reps to become advocates of the product has other advantages too. An empowered customer service team is your greatest product development asset and can help align product vision with customer needs.
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16. Create communities
Customers feel even more valued when they are treated as important members of a community. From Facebook Groups to Slack Channels, bringing customers into a community is a sure-fire way to make them feel welcome and validated.
And don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much–if not more–from them.
17. Automated customer support
The COVID-19 crisis has brought about a decade of technological advancement in under 10 months. Automation is the new norm as teams became remote and tickets increased in volume.
Suggested Reading: Customer Support Automation and Its Importance
18. Respond on social media
Customers often use social media as their option of last resort – which makes it key to address. While your team may be able to get some, they may not be able to get to them all.
From support, to complaints or questions, customers on social media expect responses. If they aren’t addressed appropriately, the problems could snowball and lead to a lot of backlash.
19. Respond quickly
From SaaS to Ecommerce, customers value immediate reverts. Gone are the days when customers were willing to wait hours and days for a reply. In the age of instant gratification, customers demand immediate replies.
Conversational automation helps companies with hundreds of thousands customers respond to their customers in under a minute.
Suggested Reading: Resolving Conversations Faster With Canned Responses
20. Provide self-help options
Some modern consumers prefer helping themselves than going through a customer support rep or process. According to a Zendesk survey of 7,000 respondents, around 53% of people considered it was more important to be able to resolve their own service-related problems by themselves.
More and more, companies are moving towards self-help options to serve their customers quickly and at scale.
Suggested Reading: Customer Self-service: A Necessity For Your Business Today
Customer service during a crisis
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold across the globe, as price and product become secondary moats, exceptional customer service become the primary USP for companies across the globe. And this is a system in which everyone wins – companies no longer need to incur tremendous cash burns to acquire and retain companies and customers enjoy better service and support.