“The big money isn’t as much in winning customers as in keeping customers.”
So says Liz Tahir, consultant and speaker, in an article about customer service for The Balance Small Business.
She’s right. Happy customers tell others about their wonderful experience with you. Happy customers buy from you again. And it will cost you less to close new sales with repeat customers than to identify new leads and sell to them. Superior customer service affects your bottom line in a big way.
The best customer service is personal and efficient. How can you hit both marks well?
Consider these priorities and five hacks when delivering better customer service.
Hire the best and train them to excel.
Customers expect service from people. Make sure your team is well-chosen and well-prepared to meet any need that arises.
Approximately 80% of customer service contacts are about repeat issues, according to Maria Lebed, a customer service advocate who writes for Provide Support, LLC. Train your employees to handle many types of complaints, even outside the expected. Give them scripts to use and training on maintaining emotional equilibrium when customers are disgruntled.
An integral part of training is style and etiquette. The best outcomes for customer service happen when representatives are both professional and personable.
“Proper etiquette helps make interactions clear, simple, polite and thus reduce the time necessary for solving a problem," advises Lebed. “Also, professional language will establish trust in your company and your employees.”
Hack #1: Train your reps to smile when they answer the phone and throughout a conversation. That simple act, even if the caller cannot see it, warms the tone of voice. Sounds crazy, but it works.
Treat your team like you want them to treat your customers.
Happy staff means happy customers. Hire a manager who will cultivate a culture of positivity and team spirit.
“Do you greet your employees enthusiastically each day; are you polite in your dealings with them; do you try to accommodate their requests; do you listen to them when they speak?” asks Tahir. “Consistent rude customer service is a reflection not as much on the employee as on management.” Ouch.
Hack #2: Don’t pick up your phone when you are face-to-face with a team member. Maintain eye contact and pay attention to not only what they're saying but also body language that might indicate underlying concerns.
Simplify your customer service process.
Include team training to look for simple solutions instead of complicating the customer’s issue.
Instead of multiple conversations to address customer issues, empower your team to solve problems creatively. “Trust their discretion,” writes Lebed. “It is very important that the agents feel competent and confident to use their own judgment and skills to find a solution to these problems and present it to the client.”
Hack #3: Provide integrated communication tools and systems so sales reps don’t have to repeatedly answer the same questions. When service representatives have all the customer information they need as well as product and policy details, they'll be more confident and facilitate outcomes favorable to all.
Know your customers.
What's their shoe size? Okay, that might be excessive (unless your business is shoes), but the more details you compile about your customers, the better you can serve them. You’ll know their preferences, pain points, history with you, and personal connections in the community. Each team member who interacts with them will contribute to your inside-and-out knowledge of your valuable customers and improve your service.
Hack #4: Make sure your customer service and CRM systems integrate seamlessly.
Provide your team – and yourself – with effective tools.
Lack of quick and complete access to customer information slows down service and makes it less personal. Your customers won’t feel taken care of, and your employees will get frustrated by the barriers to doing the good work they know they could – if only they had the right tools.
There are dozens of customer support solutions to choose from. Many work with your CRM solution, so pre-sale and post-sale representatives in your organization can access and contribute to the same 360-degree view of your customer relationships.
Plus, as a leader, you need a dashboard that offers insights about your customer service procedures. How many open tickets do you have? How quickly do tickets get closed? What triggered the spike this week? Which team member handles a particular request well and would be good at training others? Choose a software solution that can be configured to give you the data you need at a glance.
Hack #5: As you research CRM and customer service solutions, pay attention to how providers handle customer service themselves. Observe and learn. You might think twice about purchasing from them if they aren’t living examples of how to do it well.
Are you keeping as many customers as you’d like? Do you know them inside and out? We welcome a conversation with you about tools to empower your team to excel. Call us – see if you can hear our smile when we answer.