We all know ‘the customer is king’, but what are you doing to make your customers feel like Kings and Queens? What are you doing to make them want to come back? After all, customers are our businesses’ life-blood. During a recent workshop held by our business group, attendees learned how to propel their customer service to a whole new level. But first things first:
Why is good customer service so important?
An unhappy customer is a company’s worst enemy! They can undermine and damage your reputation, whether justified or not. With today’s Internet based news feeds and social media, it doesn’t take much to dish the dirt on any business via Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. We know we can’t please everybody all the time, yet it is important to keep our customers happy (or at least satisfied enough not to campaign against our business).
They customer service as four key areas: Service, Satisfaction, Staying, and Success. Firstly, you want to provide not just good, but amazing customer service, with which you hope to reach or exceed customer satisfaction. In turn, that will lead to customers staying with you as a repeat client and contributing to your success. For most companies, 80% of business comes from 20% of clientele, so repeat clients are essential.
As well as this it relies on good communication and leadership – if you don’t have that then it doesn’t matter how good your customer service team is! It’s worth investing time learning essential leadership skills, as illustrated brilliantly in this infographic from STL, and sending your staff on courses to improve their communication. Providing excellent customer service and satisfaction requires knowing each customers’ wants and needs, and what their expectations are in terms of your product or service. For this, you need to make sure your staff are well trained, and you are prepared to lead them!
One way to find out their feelings is by simply asking directly, getting brief feedback forms, or conducting customer satisfaction surveys. One such method is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which uses just one basic question: How likely is it that you [the customer] would recommend this company to a friend or colleague? The resulting scores fall into one of three categories:
(rating you 9-10 in customer service, with 10 being exceptional): loyal enthusiasts, who will keep buying, and referring others;
(rating you 7-8): satisfied but unenthusiastic customers, vulnerable to competitors; and,
(rating you 0-6): unhappy customers, who can damage your brand and hinder growth.
To turn your customers into promoters, there are five levels of customer service:
The bare minimum of service, not getting major complaints but also no loyalty; failure to meet expectations even once is seen as reason to leave; customers gladly switch to a competitor who wows them with a lower price and/or better service.
Building customer loyalty; may lead to increased profitability; customers willing to pay more for this better service; helps avoid the Law of Diminishing Intentions, i.e. customers going elsewhere.
Touching customers on an emotional/personal level; this increases client retention; showing them you truly care; makes it hard for competitors to pull them away.
Propels your business to a whole new level; you treat your customers better than gold; your amazed customers are keen to actively refer you.
Not meeting expectations:
Not meeting customer expectations unintentionally or maybe intentionally because you’re trying to get rid of a ‘bad customer’ who is never satisfied regardless of the level of service; this customer and you are just not a good fit.
Here are just a few of the things you can do for good to excellent customer service:
– Always follow-up, offer help and solutions immediately, provide incentives or compensation and most importantly have personal interaction (by telephone or in person)
– Be accountable, send hand-written thank you cards to repeat or major clients or small appreciation gift. Hold client appreciation events, or offer finder’s fee for referrals.
We each have our own style, of course, and that’s what makes working with us special. Importantly, always be friendly, sincere, and over-deliver, then as long as your product or service is top-notch, you should have no problem delighting and retaining your customers!