Fire on all cylinders when it comes to customer service
As we know – customer service is not only important during the process of purchase. Most customers value the service before, during and after purchasing your product online. Your full service presence is expected.
Know what your customer wants by following these ten “commandments” to achieve providing a great customer service. Even though some points might seem obvious it will help you focus on the important aspects to improve your sales trough outstanding service.
1. Listen to your customers
Most of your customers’ needs are simple and easy to fulfill. If you listen to your customers carefully they will already tell you what they want. Keep in mind that you are in business to serve your customers’ needs and that this is only possible when you listen.
Imagine yourself in the need of customer service. When you call a hotline it is maybe because you have a problem with the product itself, the company didn’t send the product you wanted or maybe the product was damaged or faulty. As a company you can therefore empirically record where your deficits are and improve them. See your complaints as free advice to do better in the future.
“When customers share their story, they´re not just sharing pain points. They´re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better. Your customer service organization should be designed to efficiently communicate those issues.”
– Kirsten Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”
2. Identify the needs
When customers describe their needs they can sense when you are only trying to sell them your products. Looking at it psychologically – when a customer finds out you are trying to manipulate them you will achieve the opposite. Not only will the customer not want your product or service, they might also share their negative experience. When providing customer service you must be able to forget your own goals because it is about the customer and not you. It is way more effective when you have confidence in your ability to help, answer questions and solve problems. 80% of Americans agree that smaller companies provide a better customer service than large businesses.
In other cases the customer might not always be able to express immediately what the need is and it is your objective to find out what they want by asking questions and actually listen to what they say. (When the customer is present and not on the phone it is also important to choose the right body language.) Careful: Beware of making assumptions by thinking you already know what the customer wants. Always try to see each of your customers as an individual with individual needs.
3. Make them feel like their opinion matters to you (and it should)
Always make your customers feel important and appreciated. Use their name to address the customer and find ways to subliminally compliment, but be sincere when you do. Service employees only ask for the customer´s name 21% of the time but the person has a name 100% of the time – and they like hearing it. People like courtesy and anything else is viewed as unprofessional. Remember the last time you were treated with discourtesy as a customer? Exactly. Unacceptable – and you are most likely now an ex-customer. 91% of unhappy customers are not willing to do business with you again and it will take you 12 positive experiences statistically to make up for one unresolved negative experience. It seems unequally distributed but this is the reason why customer service is so important.
(When being in touch with a customer it might be irritating to deal with the same questions all over again. A good solution could be a “Frequently Asked Questions”-page on your website.)
4. Be truthful
Honesty is truly a tremendous sales boost and is always valued by your customers. Do not lie to your customers and exaggerate the benefits of your proposition. As for example avoid using superlatives. Dishonesty will drive your customers away and keep them from returning. It is best to communicate to be understood, not to impress!
5. Add a human touch
Avoid stipulated e-mails as a response to individual service requests concerning your goods. It will leave your customer feeling unappreciated and the problem seem unsubstantial from your point of view. So far software has not taken over the customer service sector because people still value the personal advice – not the mechanical advice. Imagine all customer service hotlines would be programmed computer voices telling you: “Sorry, I didn’t get that. Could you please repeat your request?”. So be aware that this is based on the wish to mostly communicate as effective as possible to solve a problem – especially when the hotline is charged. Customers do not want to waste time with profoundly deaf computer voices. In the last year, 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration because they could not talk to a real person.
„Stellar service should be non-negotiable and merchants shouldn’t hide behind self-service tools and technology when it comes to knowing their products and taking care of their customers.”
– Lauren Freedman, President of the E-Tailing Group
6. Apologize and compensate for mistakes
Whenever a mistake is made or some other circumstance is keeping you from providing a high quality customer service, find a way to make it up to the customer. If a solution can’t be found try to give them a discount or other benefits to satisfy their needs. Wouldn’t you feel more valued as a customer when instead of only getting a replacement for a defective product, the company would also give you a coupon or a discount on your next purchase? Well – what is clear is, that no one has ever complained about a discount. Or have you?
7. Give more than they expect: Offer less, deliver more.
It is most likely that a customer comes back when the promises are kept and they have a pleasant experience by exceeding their needs and expectations. By saying “offer less” don’t feel advised to reduce your value proposition – just when already having a great offer you can always deliver “more”.
For example your processing time on requested products, before they are sent to a customer, is specified on your website to take a minimum time period of three work days. Your company is still able to send the ordered products on the day they were requested. Your customers will acknowledge, that the expectation on the arrival date of the order is exceeded by being there “early”. You haven’t had more costs or work, still the customer is positively surprised.
It is a requirement for any business looking to navigate the treacherous waters of the online business world. On the basis of feedback you can measure customer satisfaction, help guide your decision-making and see how customers view your product. Before you begin collecting customer feedback it is important to consider why you are seeking feedback and what your desired outcomes are. A good way of ensuring the quality of your feedback is to let your customer answer specific questions with given answers (or simply “yes or no”-questions). This will give you evaluable statistics on product or service.
9. Respond quickly
It doesn’t matter what you sell – customers will always expect you to deliver high quality customer service. This is elementary when you want the loyalty of your customers because research shows that companies, which provide great customer service, outperform their competition. Especially online customers are often asking for instant communication to make their buying experience more enjoyable. A late response to an e-mail or a busy hotline is something that no customer wants.
The top two reasons for customer loss are that the customer feels poorly treated and that the company fails to solve a problem in a timely manner. Some websites already have a live chat-function to be extremely forward-looking when it comes to revolutionizing customer service. A high percentage of online buyers tend to have questions before completing their purchases. With speed, personal touch and accuracy you will make the difference.
10. A happy employee creates happy customers
Last but not least it is vital to have responsible and reliable employees taking care of your customer service, when it is not particularly yourself handling it. Like in every other department it is elementary to motivate and appreciate the work of your staff and not to be sparing of praise. Be foresighted and consider giving your employees advanced training – hardly ever is this to your own disadvantage.
At this point I would like to thank all the nice people who work in customer service. Thank you for your patience and your volition to help.
In the end your customers don’t want you to try to sell them something when they make use of your customer service. They need the comfort that they are not alone with their necessities. Elaborating this topic made me realize how important customer service actually is. Always give it your best because even if only negative experiences seem to be perceived the service is highly important and valued.