It’s hard to overestimate the importance of providing good customer service. Not only does it help to build customer loyalty, but it can gain your business valuable word-of-mouth recommendations – one of the most effective ways of winning new customers. And regardless of how awesome your goods or service are, unless you back it up with great service, there’s a chance your customers could take their business elsewhere. Here are our top 10 tips to prevent that happening!
Encourage a service-orientated attitude
Make sure your staff understand the importance of delivering great customer service. Depending on your type of business, you may adopt an informal and friendly approach or a more formal style with customers. Either way, staff should always know to put the needs of the customer first every time, even with grumpy or unreasonable ones! When taking on new staff you should always seek to assess their attitude to customer service and whether or not they see how vital it is to the fortunes of any business.
Keep staff informed
Staff can only deliver good customer service if they know what’s going on in the company. This includes knowing about new products and services, any special deals or offers, and any new systems being introduced. The more staff know, the better equipped they are to help customers, from dealing with enquiries to flagging up a new product.
Personalise customer experience
Making someone see that you value them as a customer and recognise them as an individual can help to build a better working relationship. It’s not rocket science, but simple things like remembering their name or what they ordered last time. Take time to fully understand each customer’s requirements (no two are ever exactly the same) so you can personalise your service to their specific needs. That said, avoid being insincere or over familiar, or making remarks that could cause offense.
Asking customers how they think you’re doing can be a great way of engaging their interest and showing their opinion matters to you as a business. It can also provide you with valuable insights into their experience and show you where you need to improve. Use social media, survey forms or questionnaires to encourage customers to leave feedback or post comments on your website. Be prepared for both good and bad reviews, ensuring that you react positively to criticism and make any necessary changes. Remember to let customers know about any improvements you’ve made, especially if the changes are in response to customer feedback. This lets them know you’ve listened and responded – both key skills in delivering good customer service!
What do staff think?
All of the above applies equally to your own employees. Seeking their views is a great way to let them take responsibility for delivering a better service and also tap into their ideas. Ask them to say how ‘we’ as a team can create an even better customer experience instead of simply telling them what you expect.
Dealing with complaints
Receiving customer complaints is inevitable, it’s how you deal with them that matters. Make sure you have a clear and up-to-date complaints’ procedure in place and that everyone knows how it works. Don’t let an untrained employee deal with an issue as a badly handled customer complaint will only make matters worse. Customers will appreciate it if you keep them informed while dealing quickly and efficiently with their complaint. Thank them if their complaint has flagged up a flaw in your system, which you can now fix.
Reward customer loyalty
Earning and retaining customer loyalty is key to the ongoing success of your business and can add up to a regular source of revenue plus a wider network of new customers through recommendations. Holding on to customers in a competitive market can be challenging so make sure you reward them for their loyalty. There are many ways you can do this, such as offering special offers and discounts or adding a customer to your guest list at a corporate event. Even a small gesture can go a long way, so long as you show your appreciation and don’t take customer loyalty for granted.
What are your competitors doing?
Do some comparative shopping to keep up with the kind of service your competitors are offering – and then go one better! That doesn’t mean simply matching or beating them on price (which may not always be possible anyway) but aiming to provide the best customer service available in your niche or sector.
Add customer service to your meeting agenda
Don’t forget to discuss customer service at your regular meetings, including any issues that have come up. If you’re considering launching a new service, put potential customer response at the centre of the discussion. Ask how you can make it easier/ quicker/ better for customers to access your goods or services
Keep in touch
Let customers know you’re thinking of them by tweeting about a community event, or opportunity that might interest them. It doesn’t have to involve your company, at least not all the time, and you could share details of a great deal someone else is offering for example. See customer service as an integral part of your overall marketing strategy!