Customer service is an issue which affects each and every company. Yes, there are many important factors, whether it’s cost, profit, manufacture or promotion. However, customer service can have particularly influential effect on the overall reputation of a business and therefore its relationship with consumers. In fact, a survey conducted by American Express found that a staggering 78% of customers left a transaction due to bad service. Let’s take a look at how companies can combat this problem.
Respecting your customer should go without saying but unfortunately many companies still have a problem with the way in which their employees deal with clients. How many times have you read a negative review or heard first hand from a friend about how poorly they were treated by a service agent. This shouldn’t be happening but it’s a problem that is fairly easy to remedy. Training is key, of course, however companies should look into other issues. For example a hostile work place will lead to unhappy customer service agents. If you treat your staff well, this will be reflected in the way they treat customers. You could even provide incentives for agents who go above and beyond when helping clients.
Some companies have taken the bold move of offering complete transparency of their customer service. They do this by showcasing their most recent reviews and ratings from consumers. This may seem like a risky move, as you leaving yourself open to negative critiques. However in our current climate of commercial mistrust, honesty is respected above all else. Even if you do receive a bad review, you can attach a reply which illustrates your attempt to resolve the issue. This signals that you are committed to solving any and every problem a customer may have.
The way in which companies and consumers interact has changed drastically in recent years. Thanks to social media, businesses have the opportunity to talk with their customers directly- creating a much more personal relationship. More and more people are choosing Twitter, over email and phone calls when they need to get in touch with an organisation.
Try to utilise different forms of social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. As well as using these feeds to stay in touch with your base, you can also promote blogs, videos or just post thoughts and feelings- which helps to humanise the company. Some businesses go as far as sending personalised notes, discounts or gifts to loyal customers. These are all things that clients remember when considering who to do business with.
Complaints are just a way of life, the important thing is how you deal with them. Of course, there will be times when it isn’t your fault but this is just another opportunity to show your customers how much you care. Advise agents to take ownership of problems, this will signal to those complaining that you are hearing them and that you want to help.
There is also a lot to be said for customer service agents having the autonomy and clearance to deal with problems themselves. Many consumers are sick of being passed from pillar to post when they need help with a simple issue.
If you want to know how successful your own customer service is, just ask your customers. Surveying large amounts of people will allow you to see a broader spectrum and therefore any potential patterns. Many companies now ask for customer feedback, immediately after a conversation between an agent and consumer. This feedback can be invaluable in showcasing where you are doing well as well as where you could improve.
There are many ways in which you can survey your consumers. Of course you can call them directly but this can often come off as “cold calling”. Using other methods such as email, social media and text messages, may be a better way of garnering results.
The only way to get a full understanding of how well your customer service is, is to test it. There a few different ways in which to do this but one of the most informative is the mystery shopper approach. You can choose to use either one of your own staff, or an independent person and ask them to contact your customer service team with a problem. The way in which they deal with this problem will showcase how they are dealing with every problem and therefore what may need working on.
Conversely, you can also use the mystery shopper approach in another way. You, or a member of your staff could pretend to be a consumer and interact with the customer service team of a competitor. This may give your some good ideas on where you could improve on your own system.
The truth is, customer service can make or break a business. This should inform every aspect of the way in which your organisation deals with clients. If you need a little more convincing, a study by Lee Resources found that 91% of customers who are unhappy with a company will choose to never do business with them again. You can’t argue with those numbers.