One dissatisfying experience is all it takes for a customer to switch brands.
In today's market, competition is cutthroat in many areas. Thus, if you want to get to the top of the market, you should focus on "selling" the experience of acquiring an item or being provided with a service. In order to achieve that, you need to focus your attention and to invest in customer services.
Yet, before we dive straight into how to deliver good customer service, we need to have a common understanding of what customer service is and why it is needed.
What Is Customer Service?
Customer service is about not just providing your clients with a product, but about the way you do it. It is about making your customers fall in love with your brand.
Remember: customer service isn't about selling as much as possible, it is about making your client enjoy the process of purchasing. In other words, it is what you do to improve customer experience.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that customer services take place only when a customer is calling the customer support hotline. There are many ways to provide customer service. Customer experience can and must be improved before, during and after the purchase.
- Before The Purchase
- During The Purchase
- After The Purchase
Before the purchase even took place, you interact with your potential customer via your website, your page on Facebook, and your hotline. They will scroll through your website looking for information. They may write you a message or an e-mail with questions that are still unanswered. Or they may call you, for instance, to make an appointment or to ask for more details.
As your potential customers are making the purchase, their customer experience is based on how your personnel treats them. How do they greet newcomers? How do they address them? How do they thank the customers? Do they sound sincere and friendly?
Of course, customer service never ends with the purchase. You can and should provide complementary services that may solve your customers' problems (for example, installing or fixing a wardrobe may be quite difficult for some people). There are also some more obvious actions: reacting to customers' complaints online and offline, warranty repairs, troubleshooting, informing them about sales etc.
True, today's technologies can provide you with an automated customer support. Yet, there is nothing more annoying than an automated voice on the hotline or a chatbot that can't fix your problem. Interaction with a human (if he/she is friendly and polite, of course) is way more effective for customers. They can get the answers to all their questions faster and those answers will be more precise.
4 Reasons Why You Need Excellent Customer Care
- Excellent Customer Services Increase Your Profits
It may seem counterintuitive as you are probably thinking about all the costs of improving your business's customer services. Yet, the secret is simple – you need to treat those costs as an investment that will boost your profits in future.
A research published in Customer Experience Impact Report proved that 86% of U.S. adults are ready to pay more for a better customer experience.
- Delivering Good Customer Service Makes Your Customers Come Back
According to the same research for Customer Experience Impact Report, 73% of U.S. adults acknowledged that a friendly customer care made them fall in love with a brand.
You may be great at selling your product. The product itself may be also of highest quality. Yet, if your customer is treated like garbage or is constantly ignored, he/she will switch the brand without a second thought. And it will cost you a lot: on average, attracting a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
- Excellent Customer Services Are The Most Profitable Investment Into Word-Of-Mouth Advertising
Word-of-mouth advertising is arguably the most effective marketing strategy for any business. It means that a satisfied customer will become an advocate for your brand in his/her community. It is especially true if you did something they weren't expecting from you (in a good way). By sharing their positive experience, online or offline, they will urge their peers to become your next clients. 82% of consumers actively seek advice from people they know before purchasing a product. Besides, according to nielsen.com 84% of consumers trust referrals when making a decision on purchasing a product.
- Great Customer Experience Strengthens Your Brand
Consumers trust reviews even without knowing their authors personally: 88% of consumers indicated that they consider online reviews to be as trustworthy as personal referrals. Besides, a heartwarming story of a positive experience can go viral, adding "caring" feature to your brand's identity. And vice versa, if a customer leaves angry and/or frustrated, their review can do a lot of harm to your image, especially if it goes viral.
How To Provide Excellent Customer Service
The following 5 steps to good customer service are not quantum physics. Yet, all of them are essential to be implemented to make sure your one-time customer will become a regular.
Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep
Reliability is the foundation of a long-term relationship with customers. You need to build on that reliability by always delivering on your promises. If your website states an outdated price, that's the price customer should pay anyway. Don't surprise them with unexpected fees on-spot. If you promise delivery within 7 days, make sure the item will be delivered within 7 days, or don't make such a promise at all. Deliver on the quality of your product. In this article, you can learn more about transparency and why it matters. Same goes for reacting to customers' complaints: fix the problem exactly the way you've promised to. If you do that, your brand will become trustworthy in the eyes of the customer.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes
There is always room for human error. Yet, what matters is how you react to your own mistakes:
- Smile and be friendly.
- Acknowledge that mistake occurred on your end, be honest.
- Tell the customer what you are going to do to fix this problem.
- Don't charge the customer extra money for your mistakes.
- Resolve the problem as fast as possible.
- Your customer shouldn't make any efforts to solve your mistake: for example, deliver the missing parts instead of making them drive to your shop/warehouse to pick them up.
Turn On Your Emotional Intelligence
Empathy is the key to managing angry and/or frustrated customers. Having stepped into the customer's shoes, you will be able to understand their perspective and their emotions at the moment. That's the best starting point, as to resolve their anger or frustration you need to know where it truly comes from. Don't lose your patience and remain respectful even to the most impolite customers out there – they will calm down eventually.
Yet, it's not just about dissatisfied customers. Empathy is understanding well what needs, obvious or hidden, your potential customer wants to satisfy. That is the key to tailoring the personal approach to every customer. Having understood that, you can take an extra step to help them satisfy those needs in a surprising manner.
Invest In Your Customer Service Team
No matter how big your customer service team is, make sure they all believe in the core values of your brand. Everyone who interacts with customers has to sincerely care about the brand and be its advocate from their heart. If you want your potential customers to fall in love with your brand, make sure your customer service team falls in love with it first.
Skills matter as well: your team has to be well-equipped to interact with customers, so invest in intense training for newcomers, especially on emotional intelligence.
Customers put their trust into Facebook posts from their friends and online reviews. So, your task is to make sure you react to them promptly and with dignity. You can find out more about best practices for responding to online reviews . Handling negative comments is as important as answering your calls, do not ignore them. More tips on handling negative comments on social media can make your business more customer-friendly as well. . Expand your Internet presence to the platforms that your target groups use, be it Twitter or Instagram or even Snapchat. Interact with them as much as possible, bonus points for a good sense of humor (just take a look at Netflix Twitter account). It makes your brand more humane and thus easier to fall in love with.
3 Examples Of The Companies That Nailed Excellent Customer Support
- La Quinta Inns & Suites
The La Quinta Inns & Suites doesn't usually make it into lists of examples of how to provide the best customer service. Yet, it definitely deserves it. Let's take a look at one story of La Quinta Inns & Suites customer:
"We left our small soft cooler. I called the next day to see if they found it when cleaning the room. [The] front desk person was so concerned for us. She called me back to let me know they found the bag and would hold it for us. I said I'd see if anyone was still in town to pick it up. Finding no one, I told her they could keep it since my husband wouldn't drive the 4 hours (one way) for a $20 item. She said if I could give her my credit card # she would send it to me. I really appreciated how she went above and beyond!! We always stay at your hotel and recommend it to everyone".
As you can see, this surprising upgrade was so heartwarming for the customers that they are willing to come back to La Quinta Inn in the future given the opportunity. Besides, they are willing to spread the word about their positive experience and recommend the hotel to everyone.
This is a perfect example of how to provide excellent customer service.
Apple is well-known for its extra steps to great customer service. One of the many examples is the story of another Apple customer from Kingman, Arizona, who had to send his 13" 2015 MacBookPro to an Apple Certified Repair Centre after his toddler had sprayed windex directly into the vents, screen hinge and onto the keyboard. Even though the user had considered repairing the laptop at third party companies, he sent it to Apple.
As the user puts it, "Apple ended up charging me $475 and replaced numerous things, including the entire screen assembly. Bonus, although the liquid damage repair wasn't covered by warranty the warranty itself is still intact because Apple did the repair. So glad I listened to my gut. I saved money, time, and avoided a lot of anxiety. Apple conducted business with respect and integrity. Happy with Apple."
The customer said it himself – the great customer care is the reason he is happy with purchasing Apple products. The lesson we can learn from Apple is to take an extra step to surprise and please your customer.
- Trader Joe's
As Reddit user kibitzor puts it, "Trader Joe's did something awesome!"
The user's grandfather rarely kept a lot of food at home, preferring to drive to get food when he's hungry. That day, he got snowed in. The user's mother called several places to find one that would deliver the food to his place. She ended up making a big order at Trader Joe's. When she asked them how much she should pay, they told there was no need to pay and said, "Merry Christmas!". Trader Joe's sent their employee out in a winter storm to deliver food to the user's grandfather for free.
Excellent customer care can and should be your main selling point in today's cutthroat competitive markets. Make your brand as caring and humane as a good Samaritan can be, and consumers will trust it to satisfy their needs and to solve their problems. Besides, they will spread the word about their great experience, contributing to your brand's positive image of the one that helps under any circumstances.
Good luck in your endeavors to implement these steps to great customer service, dear reader!
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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal, medical, accounting, investment, or any other professional advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.