In a more competitive business environment than ever, great customer service may be the element which sets you apart from the competitor nipping at your heels. What are some of the important steps when it comes to offering great service in this area? Here are six essential pointers.
#1. Make sure you hire the best people
It all starts with the people you hire. In an age of AI chatbots and call center outsourcing, it can be easy to pass over the importance of hiring a great customer service agent. Don’t fall into that trap. While tools like chatbots most certainly have their place, you also stand to benefit significantly from having great (human) customer service agents who are able to communicate effectively — and off-script — with customers.
They should know the details of whatever it is that you’re offering, and be empathetic and good listeners, with the verbalization skills to respond in the most effective way possible. A good customer service agent can make a solid customer experience great, and can even undo some of the damage that might result from a negative experience. It starts with hiring the best people for the job — and then giving them the right training and support to allow them to thrive in the role. Tools like Workforce Optimization (WFO) software can help you to build an engaged, informed workforce, benefitting from the latest advanced analytics tools.
#2. Open yourself up on multiple channels
It’s great to have brilliant customer service agents available on the phone. But not every customer query warrants a phone call. Not only is this a waste of customers’ time, but it’s also going to be a waste of your time and resources dealing with every single query that comes through the door. In a world of social media and a plethora of communication methods, the phone should be just one tool in your arsenal. Live chat, email, WhatsApp outreach, discussion forums, Twitter, and plenty more options are available.
This additionally opens up opportunities for incorporating tools like chatbots where necessary to help speed up response times and lessen the workload you face — as well as making it easier to point customers toward online video tutorials, help pages, and the like. The channels you’ll want to be accessible on may vary depending on your industry. However, the idea that you should do your best to let customers reach you in the way that’s most convenient to them is important regardless of what it is that you’re selling.
#3. Speed up customer interactions
Some customer interactions are ones they’ll want to linger over. Buying a luxury watch or a high-end sports car is an experience customers will want to savor. At a lower price point, many customers will enjoy the experience of lingering in an independent bookstore, chatting with employees and browsing the shelves. But not every customer interaction is desirable to be dragged out — and, regardless of whether you’re selling sports cars or cat litter online, no customer interaction should last longer than the optimally desirable length of time.
Finding ways to take the pain out of a retail experience by speeding it up is as sure to surprise and delight customers as anything else. There’s a reason the world still talks about Amazon’s one-click purchasing: it distils buying down to its speediest possible element.
#4. Make it easier for customers to make returns
It’s annoying as a customer to have to return a product that isn’t wanted or has a fault. Suddenly they face a problem they didn’t anticipate having — and one that seems even more of a chore in an era in which the buying process is simpler and quicker than ever. Free pickup services are a great way of taking the hassle out of returning a product for customers.
In some cases, companies may wish to take customers at their word and simply issue refunds without a product having to be returned (for instance, when it comes to spoiled foodstuffs). A customer acquiring a product that isn’t fit for the purpose they intended it for isn’t ideal. But being able to handily resolve the process of getting it back, and returning them their money, will help get the business relationship back on track.
#5. Reward your customers
Loyalty programs are a great way of building up all-important repeat business with customers. It will also make customers feel valued, and give them an incentive to come back to you in the future rather than going elsewhere.
#6. Gather feedback
Letting customers have their say about the customer experience they’ve had with you is not just a good way of making them feel heard, but can also provide businesses with valuable data points they can use to hone their offerings. Find ways to ask for feedback in an intuitive way, and you may be surprised how willing customers are to provide it.