For any business, keeping your customers happy is key. Preparing for and delivering strong and positive customer service is fundamental to the financial and reputational success of any brand.
What counts as customer service? The term ‘customer service’ encapsulates any help a company offers their customers or clients before, during and after they engage with the brand. Whether this is through the purchase of a product, the use of a service, or the conversation that takes place before and around either of those things. Offering excellent customer service is broadly understood to rank as one of the highest factors to create and retain the trust a consumer has in a company.
Statistics have shown consumers are willing to pay more if they know they’ll receive a higher level of customer care. They also won’t be afraid to change the brands they engage with if customer service does not meet their expectations. On the whole, a focus on delivering excellent customer service is not to be underestimated.
Where to start?
Initial focus should always be on getting to know your customers. Before you can put in place the right customer service strategy you need to know who your customer groups are. As well as what they need or expect from your brand. Start with basic demographics. What age they are? Where do they live? What is their family and earning status? And importantly what problems do they have that your brand will be offering to solve for them? Flesh out your customer personas as much as possible. Understand where they live online. What social media platforms they use. What content they consume. And how you can offer them a customer service level that ticks their boxes and answers their questions.
Once you’ve figured out who you are talking to, consider which customer service markers you should have in place to cater to their needs. How quickly will your customers expect to hear from you? Where will you reach them? What kind of language will you use? How can you train your team to handle customer service needs in a way consistent with your strategy? Bringing your whole team up to speed on your customer goals is the best way to roll out brand-appropriate and consistent customer care that will help gain your customer’s trust. Be realistic about your previous customer service mistakes. When you can recognise them, be honest about how you can plan to avoid them going forward.
Which pitfalls to avoid?
While brands are guilty of many customer service mistakes, some are more problematic than others.
This might seem obvious but it’s surprising how often brands do this. When a customer gives you feedback – whether bad or good – take it on board. If it’s positive, bank it. You know you’re on the right track. If it’s negative but draws attention to a weakness your brand has, don’t feel annoyed. Instead, take it on board and use it to help you improve. If you haven’t received any feedback, just ask. Get in touch with customers who have recently engaged with your service and ask them if they’d mind giving you some honest feedback. The opinions and experiences of your customers are the most valuable of all information.
Making customers wait
We’ve all been there. An email that receives no answer for nearly a week. A call to a help desk where you’re waiting for more than an hour. Being made to wait by any company is frustrating and in many cases can be make or break. If you’re going to make me wait, I’d rather take my business elsewhere. It can be as simple as that. It’s vital therefore to implement a target timeframe into your customer service strategy. That way you and your team are held accountable and you can measure your successes against this marker.
Ignoring your data
There is a huge amount of available data (often free) that can prove incredibly helpful when it comes to offering the best customer service. Access your Google Analytics, the insights provided in your social profiles and whatever web stats your own website offers and use them to arm you with your customer service goals. If you can see from your statistics that most of your users are engaging with you in the evening, make sure you provide some customer service response at that time. If your stats show that lots of your customers are dropping off on your cart page without completing a purchase, spend some time figuring out the customer journey. What problem are they experiencing that would make them disengage? Analysing and solving these pressure points is an indirect way to offer your customers a smoother and more positive experience.
Forgetting to ask questions
Perhaps you don’t receive a lot of feedback or can’t learn a lot from your statistics. If that’s the case, make sure you as some questions yourself. Check in with your customers after they have purchased from you. Engage with customers via social media and ask about their experiences (bad and good) of working with your company. The more information you can accumulate the more informed your customer service strategy can be.
Promising more than you deliver
It’s better to under promise and over deliver – never was a phrase more true than in the world of customer service. Don’t promise that you will respond to your customers within the hour if you know that your team can only truly reach out to all customers within 24 hours. Don’t offer overnight shipping unless you actually know that you can deliver on that. Be conscious and realistic about your customer service promises and make sure that each one of them can be consistently delivered. The worst thing to do is to tell your customers one thing and offer them something far worse. This kind of low level delivery leads to customers losing faith in your brand and dropping off to move to other brands instead.
Many of us will find it easy to think through our own personal experiences with brands and to recognise good and bad customer service. Understanding the strength and power of great customer service when it comes to brand growth and financial success is something that no company can afford to ignore. Be clear on who your customers are, what they need and expect and set yourself a strategy that has realistic and achievable deliverables to suit. Being a company that can be relied on, that listens, and then changes based on feedback is being a successful company.