Your company’s customer service is basically another aspect of your marketing. Why? Because it requires you to engage directly with your customers, and one way or another, following their interactions with you, they will definitely have formed an opinion of your company in one way or another. Give good customer service and the client will sing your praises and hopefully get you a few more customers to boot, get it wrong and those negative reviews will come rolling in!
So, it’s fair to say that making your customer service as effective as possible should be pretty high on your agenda if you want to show your company in the best possible light and attract (and retain) as many customers as possible, but how exactly do you do that?
Train your staff well
The first thing you should do, if you want to make your customer service more effective, is to give your employees a huge amount of training, not only on best customer service practices but also on the products and services you sell.
When customers get in touch with queries, they want very clear answers to their questions, and they will not be impressed if even your own employees cannot give them to them quickly, accurately, and efficiently. That means your staff needs to know your products and services inside out. It also means that ongoing training will most likely be necessary as you add new product lines or make changes to existing ones, but it will be worth it when customers can leave interactions with your company on a positive note.
Always be clear
When a customer gets in touch with customer service, they don’t want to hear a bunch of sales jargon or get thew hard sell. They want to have their questions answered as simply and clearly as possible, so they can easily understand the situation and get the answers/advice they need.
Unfortunately, a lot of customer service teams do not communicate clearly because they are so used to refer to their work in technical terms, they do not realize that many customers will not easily understand what they are saying. What can you do about this? Write up some guidelines and jargon conversion charts so they can practice speaking more plainly when it is clear a customer is not as technically knowledgeable as they are.
I cannot understate just how important it is for customers to be treated with empathy when they get in touch with you. This, more than almost anything else, is what will help to create a strong bond between your business and your customers. For this reason, it is a really good idea to spend some time screening the people you employ for customer service roles. Picking out those with the most empathetic traits will likely serve you, and your customers well.
Of course, it is also possible to train employees to behave in a more empathetic way, by using active listening training, for example, but choosing people who are already pretty empathetic to run your customer service section will make the whole process a whole lot easier.
Consistency is key
These days, customer service can be administered over a variety of platforms from using the best chat widget available to offering customer support over the phone. It is important, then, that your business is able to maintain a high level of consistency over a number of different platforms.
Why is this important? Because customers may well use numerous channels to get in touch, and they will want their experience to be as seamless and fuss-free as possible. If you aren’t consistent, it frustrates the customer and looks bad for your brand, so be sure that your customer service teams know that, no matter what thew channel there are certain procedures, and be sure to use a CRM (customer relations management) platform that connects the dots and makes information available across channels.
The human touch
These days, in theory, you could almost run your customer service automatically using AI and chatbots to carry out the bulk of the work, but doing so isn’t a good idea because, obviously, the software cannot handle the complexities of every customer’s problem, and many people still want to be able to speak to an actual human when they have a problem. So, be sure you always have some actual humans available to deal with customer service issues.
Oh, and make sure that the customer can easily find a human to speak to/ These days, a lot of companies have so many FAQs, chatbots, and confusing contact forms that customers have to wade through before ever getting near a human that, at best they get frustrated, and at worst they give up completely and you lose a customer and/or get hit with a negative review. Make your telephone, email, and live chat options prominent, and don’t annoy your customers!
If a customer gets in touch with customer service and they can just tell that the person they are dealing with is about as uninterested in their issue as it is possible to be, they are going to get really annoyed and it is going to reflect really badly on your business.
Train your team so that they are always engaged, always happy to deal with any issues, and know how to keep their cool when a customer is being a bit difficult and it will reflect really well on your business. Letting your employees know that calls are being monitored may help with this, but you don’t want to be breathing down their necks to the point where they hate their jobs as that would obviously be counterproductive in terms of fostering a positive demeanor!
As alluded to above, it is also important that you train your customer service team to be as patient as possible when dealing with customers. It can be a tough job when you have lots of customers calling up to complain, some of them less than polite, or sending you abusive emails. But, hitting back in kind can be a really bad idea. Not only does it give them another cause for complaint, and more ammunition for them to badmouth your business with, but it just doesn’t give the impression that you are a professional brand. Therefore, giving your staff some training in conflict resolution, and maybe even offering meditation classes to help them keep calm and stress-free could be good, Being a good boss will help too!
When it comes to customer service, you need to be as flexible as possible. Not only doe this mean having a multi-channel approach to customer service so that your customers can choose the method of contacting you that suits them best, but also it means that your employees need to be able to adapt to each customer’s unique situation; you can’t just have them reading off a script.
We’ve all had a frustrating customer service experience where it’s evident the agent is reading off a limited script that doesn’t cover your issue, therefore they simply keep repeating information that is inapplicable, or which you have already tried to no effect. It doesn’t exactly give you warm feelings for the company concerned, does it? That’s why you need to let your customer service team go off-script, a d also why you need to give them enough training that they truly understand your products, and so are able to do so.
Listen to your customers
Listening to your customers allows you to find out more about the kinds of things they want your company to provide or the kind of information you should be providing but currently aren’t so that you can make changes and make your business better.
Always try to improve
Last, but by no means least, you need to make a real effort to keep improving your customer service, and in fact, the whole of your business.
It is fair to say there is not a company out there that has not got it wrong at one time or another, but it’s what you do after something that has gone that matters. If you out it right as best you can, learn from the mistake, and change your processes as a result, that will lead to a much stronger business in the future fail to do so and your could end up going under.
Customers are way more undersatnding of errors when they can see that you have taken their complaint seriously and acted upon it to improve things for the future, and why are unlikely to hold it against you, but if they see that you have just fobbed them off and moved on, making few if any changes, they will be mad and they will probably review you negatively – they certainly won’t give you their custom again!
Making your customer service more effective will take time and effort, as well as some investment, but it will be worth it when your company is loved and lauded by your customers.