Customers are at the heart of any company’s success, yet often they are not made a priority. Accenture reports that 66% of customers switch brands due to poor service, while Insight Squared found that a stunning $41 billion is lost by U.S.-based companies every year due to poor customer service. What makes such a figure truly dismal is the fact that, according to an American Express report, 58% of customers are actually willing to spend more money on brands that offer great customer service. The statistics clearly suggest that it’s time to do more than provide adequate service: brands need to honor the tremendous value of their customers by exceeding customer expectations. Here are six ideas to consider when defining what it means to deliver excellent customer service.
Solve customer issues before they arise.
Proactive service is key to winning over customers. This can entail everything from redirecting customers to different channels for faster service to informing them if there is some delay in resolving a problem or making a delivery. Offering a live chat option when customers are researching online is another proactive gesture, while agents can show empathy for frustrated customers by offering waivers or discounts as goodwill gestures. Proactive service shows customers you are a step ahead of the game, looking out for their needs and preferences and committed to giving them a great customer experience.
Customers need to be heard. Agents need to listen carefully to customers when they have an issue, giving them a chance to explain their situation and vent their frustration if needed. Brands overall need to further listen to customer comments on social media and feedback surveys, as positive and negative comments alike can give tremendous insight into improving customer service practices. The same is true for post-service management: Customer service cases should never be considered one-time problems to fix and move on from. Companies need to analyze all cases, share information across departments, and work on resolving issues for the overall improvement of the brand.
Communicate in real time, since time is everything.
Responding to customers in real time is a must, especially on social media channels and chat where conversations typically move fast (same-day responses over email are necessary, too). Agents should be sure to respond to private messages, wall posts, and tweets on social media just as quickly as they come in, and offering prioritized callbacks is an ideal way to save customers’ time and eliminate hold times. If a customer service interaction is taking too long or becoming too complex to handle on a specific channel, agents should switch the customer over to a more appropriate channel if necessary–for example, switching from live chat to voice to better resolve a complex issue.
Give customers the human touch.
To personalize each interaction, agents should address customers by name and introduce themselves at the start of every customer service exchange. Every interaction should be considered a conversation and prompt agents to show empathy for a customer’s issue, appreciation for their time and business, and be apologetic for anything that bothers the customer, such as delays in the queue or a late delivery. This is especially important if agents are interacting on social media or via SMS, as the lack of human voice or visual contact makes it especially critical to establish a human presence. Customers will feel a stronger connection and sense of loyalty to a brand driven by skilled and caring individuals who want the best for their customers.
Engage your employees.
One essential aspect of the customer experience is making sure employees are well-trained and confident when communicating with customers. The better informed they are about company products and services–as well as the technologies they use day-to-day–the more they will provide stellar service. It’s also important to solicit employee opinions such as suggestions for better call scripts, customer feedback surveys, and even marketing campaigns on social media. As they are on the front lines of customer service, contact center employees often have a strong sense of what customers really need and want.
Give customers something extra.
To truly exceed customer expectations, brands need to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and give them a dose of the unexpected. Taking such steps as making follow-up calls after closing a sale or customer service case, providing detailed tracking information and updates for deliveries, offering discounts or other rewards for customer loyalty, and just taking the time to thank customers for their business are all great ways to show appreciation and instill confidence in customers.
A happy customer is a loyal customer, and brands should never underestimate the power of going above and beyond expectations to give customers the very best. Taking a customer-centric approach is therefore key to defining excellent customer service. Learn about Vocalcom contact center software solutions for delivering premium customer service.
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