A detailed business plan, an optimal location, financial resources—these are factors that can make or break a business. However, no matter what you sell—whether it’s food, clothing, electronics or consulting—having great customer service is an essential component of creating a successful business, and securing client loyalty, too.
Learning to “do it all” and do it well
Business owners typically excel in several areas. Some are good at managing people, making a little money go a long way, and selling the heck out of a product. But when it comes to creating an effective customer service culture, they fall flat. There’s good news, however, if you fall into this category.
A little customer service goes a long way.
How much service do customers actually expect?
Unfortunately, because customers’ expectations are at an all-time low, they generally expect to be treated poorly when calling a company to request services or buy products, or get help with a problem.
Look at Comcast’s service as an example. It wouldn’t take much to turn their reputation for having poor customer service around. One way to improve a customer’s experience with Comcast is as simple as training service providers who install cable to communicate.
Here’s what that would look like:
Upon leaving a customer’s home, the service professional calls the next appointment on the list to alert the next customer that he will be there shortly. The driver can troubleshoot the scenario, apologizing if he’s late, offering an estimated time of arrival, or confirming the customers’ address.
If you do just a few things well, you’ll look like a customer-service rock star to your customers.
Five keys to great customer service:
Here’s a five-step plan for hitting customer service out of the park, and establishing a foundation for customer care that centers on the customer’s value.
1. Give your customer service team the right communication tools. If customers can only communicate via phone—where customers have to (gasp) stay on hold to get in touch with someone—and web forms to get in touch with you, you’re failing at customer service. Give customer care reps more options for communicating with customers, like text. Texting is now a way of life for consumers, and they’re accustomed to using text for asking questions and getting answers.
2. Create a customer service culture. You won’t succeed at customer service if you can’t offer a great experience, guaranteed, no matter who answers the call. If you only have a few good people that can deliver great customer service every time, but the rest of your team flounders, you don’t have a culture of customer experience. Make a plan to establish what constitutes good customer service and train your reps.
3. Focus on creating a “good start”. Study how 5-star hotels create a good first impression. When a guest arrives on-site, and before she opens her mouth, the hotel staff already know her name and a few pertinent personal details. Put these same guidelines into place in your customer care policies so that every customer’s interaction with your business gets off to a good start.
4. Make it easy for customers to do business with you. Consider online customer care chat services. In the past, this was an alternative communication line instead of calling over the phone Today, however, it’s an archaic form of communication. Consumers now want to communicate with businesses the way they do in their personal lives, using text or social media.
5. Improve every point of communication in the customer life cycle. Evaluate how your business communicates with customers during the onboarding process, while using your products/services, and when ending the relationship. Create a plan to improve customer service at every stage, and implement clear procedures for customer care reps to follow.
Effective customer care leads to loyal clients, and as byproduct, increased revenue. You never know when a customer will need your products or services again, so take advantage of every opportunity to impress.