Customer service is always an evolving part of your business.
There are so many aspects to this seemingly all-encompassing facet of your company: CRM, sales, marketing, and customer support departments are involved in customer experience (UX), then there is content creation and offering multi-channel support. These are just a handful of areas in which you provide support for your customers.
Constantly, these facets need to transform. Consider them as fluid as you position yourself to deliver exceptional customer service.
The face of customer service is always in a state of flux, driven by the high expectations of millennials. Deliver a poor UX, and it can cost you. A third of consumers will consider ditching you and going to your competitors after one instance of poor service and support. Get the delivery of your customer service right, and you can win. 70% of consumers will support a company that offers excellent support.
Let’s show you eight ways to improve your customer service with that in mind. This isn’t just a theory; we give you steps on how to do it so that you charm your customers with an outstanding UX.
1. Contented employees
Hang on. This is about customers, so why bring up having employees who are content? Happy employees are more dedicated to you and your company. When your staff feels genuinely valued, they care, and this emotion is extended to your customers. Employees who have no passion for the job. Staff who merely see their work as a way of getting a paycheck. These people won’t exhibit much warmth or concern toward your customers’ issues.
Enhance your customer service by focusing on your employees’ happiness and well-being.
Overworking your staff will lead only to burnout, stress, and a team of people who aren’t that committed to the job. Consider introducing flexible working hours. You can also allow your staff to work remotely if necessary.
You can have team member “playtime” where your staff gets to relax and have fun. For example, provide an hour on Wednesdays where everyone gets to engage in some non-work-related activity.
You may be surprised, but some people consider what they are doing isn’t simply a job. It’s a career path for them.
Provide the resources and support to help your staff navigate that path and succeed. That builds loyalty and commitment to your business and its customers.
People naturally seek praise when they have done something good. This is an innate psychological trait we all have.
Have a Team Member Of The Month board. Provide rewards for outstanding service.
Let your staff in on the decision-making
This can be a hard one to do for individuals who struggle to relinquish control. However, giving the staff more freedom to make and influence decisions builds a sense of community.
Everyone now has a stake in the progress and growth of the business.
2. Exhibit empathy
This can be the result of having a happy and dedicated staff. Staff that care can sincerely exhibit empathy. However, it is a skill that needs to be developed in some individuals (and, unfortunately, some individuals find it hard to show empathy). Make empathy one of the top characteristics when hiring customer service reps. Empathy towards your customers can go a long way towards retaining your current client base.
Just think about how warm you felt inside when someone listened to your problem and empathized with you. That’s the feeling you want to invoke in your customers. Here are ways you can make that happen.
What if it was you?
Have your staff consider what it would be like if they had the issue, the customer is describing.
You can do this through role-plays in training or reflecting on a real-life scenario. How do you feel if the person you talk to wouldn’t care less about your problem? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Create empathic guidelines
Have a manual that teaches you how to respond with care and understanding to each customer situation.
You can’t script every possible scenario, so this can be an ongoing project. You also don’t want your staff to sound like uncaring robots reading a script.
Train your team on active listening. You can carefully pick out the pain points of the situation from the “noise” (i.e., a customer venting their anger and frustration).
Use positive language when responding and let the customer know that you completely understand their feelings.
3. Dismantle the silos
Silos are fascinating creatures. They can self-form, seemingly without the effort of those confined within their borders. However, these are created by those who think their department is more important than the others. There is a reluctance to communicate inter-departmentally, and information sharing is minimal. This can affect customer service as you have clients repeat their problems several times to different people. Resolving the customer’s issue may be haphazard due to limited information being available to the respective staff member.
HubSpot reports that 33% of consumers get frustrated having to explain a situation over and over again to different reps. So, get rid of the silos.
Pull down the walls
If you have a small number of staff who work in cubicles, remove these partitions. Partitions create physical and psychological barriers. Make everything open-plan and share the office space. A communal area is more conducive to natural collaboration.
There is no more stress or competition in the workplace. Your staff gets along better than ever, and your customers reap the rewards through improved support.
Have your sales team work in marketing and vice versa. Heck, have finance work in customer support, and customer support can take their turn at crunching numbers. By encouraging and supporting inter-departmental personnel exchanges, everyone gets to understand one another’s roles.
There is no more Ivory Tower building, and all the staff work as a holistic team. Your customer service will benefit from a quicker and higher-quality resolution of your end-users issues.
Move everything to the cloud
Do you find that some team members work with one software package for customer support, and others have something completely different? That can only lead to frustration as your team tries to reconcile different data types from incompatible computer programs.
Streamline everything by ditching the old software and using cloud collaboration. That means everyone is on the same page, and they can access and update customer service records and reports.
4. Reduce the speed with which you provide customer service
Taking your time to deal with a customer’s problem may seem counterproductive, but hear us out. How much empathy (yeah, there it is again) do you show towards the customer if your main goal is to resolve an issue as quickly as possible?
Is one of your customer service metrics based on how many issues you have “successfully” fixed? That can mean your reps are only concerned about reaching targets. Your customers may feel that their problem hasn’t been fully addressed. That’s not an ideal situation for you.
Take your time with providing customer service.
Don’t rush through the phone call
You don’t have to spend forever talking to the customer, but you need to ensure that the phone call has successfully dealt with the initial problem. Ask follow-up questions about the issue. Use positive language and warmth in your voice.
Schedule a follow-up if the issue can’t be fixed in the first phone call.
The CRM should allow you to make detailed notes and assign a job number to the customer’s issue. Don’t make your messages so cryptic that they are undecipherable.
Use as much detail as you can to explain the situation. That makes it easy for other reps to follow up on the task.
Follow up with a follow-up
When you see that an issue has been successfully sorted, contact the customer and see if they are delighted with the outcome.
Let them know you will contact them again in a couple of weeks to check that they still have no ongoing issues.
5. Express gratitude
Here is a little psychological experiment you can try: Think about how you feel when someone sincerely thanks you when you purchase something from them. Now, compare that with how you feel when you get a half-hearted expression of gratitude or, worse, when you receive no thanks.
Which of the above shops would you go back to? Use that to guide your customer service.
Thank the customer in person
This doesn’t mean you go and shake their hand. After all, that is impossible if you have an e-commerce business. However, you can do the next best thing: enclose a gratitude card inside the package you send out.
Ensure that you have the person’s name on the card (and that you spell it correctly). How warm and fuzzy do you feel when you get something like that?
People love to save money. To thank your customers (both new and existing ones), offer them a discount on their next purchase. Don’t make it seem like the offer is something generic. People are smart, and they can smell a fake from a mile away.
Make it an exclusive deal. Something that lets your customers know how much they mean to you.
On your social media platforms, have a weekly shout-out festival. Thank all the fantastic customers who have purchased from you over the previous week.
Make it a celebration, but make sure you mix up the festivities, as you don’t want this show of appreciation to become stale.
6. Offering self-help
Empowerment. That’s something we like to encourage in one another. You can help your customers help themselves by providing the tools to address their problems. Of course, you can assist in other means, but allow your end-users to try to fend for themselves.
There are plenty of ways you can offer self-help to your customers.
With these, you provide the answers to the more common questions about your product or service. This site section needs constant revision and updating as you receive novel questions from your end-users.
This is similar to the FAQs, but your customers are assisting one another through an online portal.
Don’t feel like you or your team can’t get involved in the forums.
Video has become one of the more popular channels on the internet. Take advantage of this by having a presence on YouTube or Vimeo. Provide detailed tutorials on how to use your product. Create a visual troubleshooting guide. Add new content to your channel as needed.
You can provide your customers with the opportunity to upload their videos. This helps build loyalty to you and your brand.
7. Update and revise your customer loyalty program
Look inside your billfold or purse and see how many loyalty cards you have. They are amazing wee things, and you feel so great when you get that stamp or mark that indicates you’re closer to getting a reward. From a customer service point of view, the keyword around these cards is “loyalty”.
Loyalty cards are an indirect way of saying “thank-you” to your customer for choosing to do business with you. You recognize their loyalty. Don’t take this as something frivolous.
Enhance your customer loyalty program.
Make it personal
When someone signs up for your loyalty program, have them provide you with their name rather than just issue a generic card. Put the customer’s name on the loyalty card, and then you can thank them personally by saying something like, “We really appreciate you doing business with us, Peter.”
That makes the customer feel loved and valued.
Have your existing customers act as your advocates when attracting new business. You can provide recognition by having a tier system of rewards. However, don’t have your customers feel like you are simply using them as tools to build your business.
See them as pseudo-business associates and treat them as such.
This will require some work and some investment. Don’t think you have to build something from the ground up. Online platforms such as xoxoday, Giftbit, and Guusto provide everything you need to establish an amazing loyalty system.
You have to get creative and figure out ways to make an amazing loyalty program.
8. Customer service from events
Along the buyer’s journey, there are plenty of touchpoints through which you can tie your customer service. The most obvious one is the abandoned cart. Use these touchpoints to trigger your customer support outreach.
People can get distracted or busy and forget to complete an order with you. Send them a reminder that there is an abandoned cart that needs some care.
Be creative with the copy, such as “Uh-oh. We have found a cart that still needs your love and attention.”
Another idea is to send reminders for renewals of subscription-based services.
Whenever anyone buys something, they would love to know when they get the item. Delivery tracking helps immensely, but why not add some excitement to the process?
When your customer finally gets the item, you can turn it into an event celebrating the first day of a beautiful relationship between you and the item they purchased from you. Kind of like when you first get married or bring a child into this world. Such memories.
Have you ever bought something only to find that you need to return to the shop and buy additional items so you can enjoy your initial purchase? Frustrating, huh? That is an example of poor customer service. Don’t be afraid to cross-sell to your client base. You want them to be happy with your product and allow them to get the best use out of it.
When you buy a cellphone, you will be offered a cover, a screen protector, and other items. That’s for your benefit as a consumer.
Use this same mindset with your customer service.
Enjoy providing amazing customer service
As consumers become pickier about who to do business with, you must get customer service right. Yet, once you get everything humming nicely around your customer support, don’t think it’s time to relax. Customer service always requires tweaking and fresh, innovative approaches.
Drop the ball, and you may find that you are losing part of your customer base. Replacing those with new customers can cost 5–7 times more than it does to retain customers.
Make sure that your customer service shines.