What is the most important thing you can do to improve relationships with your customers? The answer is as obvious as it is often overlooked…. improve customer service.
Regardless of how great your product is or how talented your staff is, one of the things that customers are most likely to remember is how they felt after an interaction they have with your company.
Here are a few customer service tips for identifying ways to better serve customers.
1. Strengthen your customer service skills
Firstly, it’s important to make sure that your customer service team has the right skills for managing your customers’ needs.
Empathy, patience and consistency.
Some customers will be irate and others will be full of questions and you must know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time.
Ensure you convey to customers exactly what you mean. You don’t want your customer to think he’s getting 50% off when he’s actually getting 50% more product. Use authentic language, stay cheerful no matter what and never end a conversation without confirming the customer is satisfied.
Ultimately your customers rely on you for their knowledge of your product. Stay informed enough to respond to most inquiries and know where to turn if the questions become too detailed or technical for you to answer. But don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” either. Customers will appreciate the honesty and your efforts to find the right answer.
Not sure if your representatives have the right customer service skills? Survey or interview your customers to understand whether your service team is showing each of these traits..
2. Improve your customer interactions
If your staff has the necessary skills set, that’s a good start but they still need to relate to your customers and here are some tips for ensuring that customer service is both thorough and well received:
Practice active listening so your customers feel heard
Clarify and rephrase what the customers say to ensure you understand them. Empathise with and reflect their feelings by saying things like, “That must have upset you” or “I can see why you feel upset.”
Admit your mistakes… even if you discover them before your customers do.
This builds trust and restores confidence. It also allows you to control the situation, re-focus the customer’s attention and resolve the issue.
Follow-up after a problem is solved.
Ensure that the issue stays fixed and that your customers were satisfied with the service. Sending an email or even a feedback survey is an excellent way to let the customer know you’re still on their side.
3. Customer service strategy
Practice proactive customer service by making your customers happy before they come to you with problems.
Your customers want to feel like they have access to real people, not FAQs. Offer more than just automated email responses, and do not let your telephone prompts or website send them down a rabbit hole. Take full advantage of social media (such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp) and write responses when your customers post on your page. Post photos and bios on your website. This shows your customers that you are real people working on their behalf.
Part of the personal touch is making sure your customers can reach you. For example if your business is primarily online, meet in person occasionally with local customers and offer video calls (such as Skype) for those farther away. Work early and late when needed, especially if your customers are in different time zones.
Your customers will feel even more valued if you treat them as important members of a community. You can bring various customers together in numerous ways, including webinars, interactive websites, social media, trade shows and conventions. And don’t forget that while your customers come to these forums to learn from you, you can learn as much–if not more–from them.
Regardless of how proactive you are, you’ll never be able to achieve direct communication for every customer issue. To ensure that you learn about the good, the bad and the ugly experiences your customers have, create an easily accessible way for customers to give feedback.
Whether it’s a phone survey at the end of a service call, an email survey sent directly or a form on the “Contact Us” page of your website, creating a means for customers to give feedback makes it easier for you to learn what needs improving on. It also helps to prevent unhappy customers from voicing their displeasure in highly visible places, such as on your social media pages.
We would be interested to hear your thoughts on improving customer service @clientmarketyks