Impress Your Customers With Stellar Service
By: Jessica Chestnut
The way we do business has changed. More transactions are completed over the phone or online, often without any contact with a real person during the process. Because of this, it’s crucial to remember the importance of providing stellar customer service. It can turn your customers into evangelists, save you money, and bring in repeat business. Your marketing may have helped turn them into a customer, but it’s your service that will keep them as a customer. Communication is (and will always be) the foundation for great customer service. Make yourself accessible by phone, through email, through your website - whatever it takes. A quick response goes a long way to let someone know you are there. Even if you can’t answer a question completely or resolve an issue immediately, keep in touch with the person and let them know that you haven’t forgotten about them. And above all - smile (even if you’re on the phone!). Do not underestimate the power of peer and online reviews. Great customer service can lead to testimonials and product reviews raving about your company and products, letting customers promote your business for you. With the boom in social media, these sites can become marketing tools for your business, as your customers take their opinions public. With more people sharing their experiences on social media sites (such as Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp), you can benefit from the positive (and free) publicity. When someone posts about the great experience they had with your company or product, be sure to thank them for their patronage.
However, these sites are often an outlet for people to vent about less-than-stellar experiences. Consumers are known to tell twice as many people about poor service compared to the good, and social media makes it that much easier for them. If you receive a publicly aired complaint, address it publicly and try to resolve it. Show your current and potential future customers that you’ll work hard to make them happy. Seventy percent of consumers trust online reviews, making them a vital part of the customer service experience.
Even when you shop online, the customer experience is important. Think about how your site is setup to shop. Is it easy to navigate? Does it take an excessive amount of clicks to add something to the cart and complete the transaction? Is the customer support center easy to find and use? Although there may not be contact with a person during an online purchase, you should still consider what it takes to complete it.
Understand that great customer service can be a marketing investment. It takes more time and money to acquire new customers rather than keep your existing customers, so keep your current customer base smiling! You can always show them that their continued business means a lot to you, with repeat customer discounts or a freebie of some sort. Try going a step further and strike up a conversation (even a brief one) and get to know your customers as people.
Providing customers with a great experience can pay off in a number of ways, and can drive people to spend more. In a recent Oracle Research study, 81% of consumers are willing to pay more for superior customer service. If you are uncertain about the quality of your customer service, use one of these methods to find out:
- Surveys and questionnaires: It can be as simple as a small paper leaflet (that often accompanies the check at some restaurants), or an electronic survey through something like Google Consumer Surveys or SurveyMonkey. Offer an incentive for responding (a coupon for a free appetizer on their next visit or a coupon code for their next purchase). Keep the survey short and sweet (especially if online) for more responses.
- Ask them directly: This may not always be the most practical depending on how many customers you see, for how long, and depending on how close of a relationship you have with them. If you have the chance to strike up a conversation with someone to see what they think, they’ll appreciate the chance to be heard.
- See your business through the eyes of your customer: Have a friend act as a “secret shopper” in your store and see what kind of attention they get. Place an order over the phone at your business or even online and think about how you feel after the experience - happy, frustrated, neutral? Would you tell others about it? If you say no, then there’s room for improvement.
Customers are what keep you in business - without them you have no business! Focus on their happiness, ask for their feedback, and encourage them to share their experiences with others. Stand out as the company that truly goes the extra mile for their customers and reap the rewards.
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