At the core, customer service is simply a business doing what they can to adhere to a customer’s wants and needs.
But that may be oversimplifying a bit. It’s not a vague or abstract concept — or at least it’s not in the eyes of the customer. For your consumers, customer service involves interaction with another person or at the very least, some sort of automation.
And the plot continues to thicken because this interaction can be one of your employees or even another customer. Hopefully, their experience was a good one because they will likely advocate for your product or service.
Others, like those over at the ACA Group, have a pretty good definition of customer service.
“Excellent customer service (is) the ability of an organization to constantly and consistently exceed the customer’s expectations.”
Exceeding a customer’s expectations takes a few key ingredients.
- Getting to know the customer
- Anticipating the customer’s needs
- Fulfilling the customer’s needs
- Going above and beyond their norm
These ingredients permeate through every touchpoint a customer has with your product, service or business as a whole. As we’ve mentioned, this isn’t strictly limited to interactions a customer has with your employees.
The framework of excellent customer service has remained intact but the details continue to evolve. The omni-channel methodology that has become so successful over the past few years is a consequence of the changing landscape of the customer experience. It relies on unifying the customer experience and providing a consistent sense of responsiveness across all messaging and service platforms.
Why Is Excellent Customer Service Important?
Well, this one isn’t really a brain-buster. Customer service has always been a focal point for most businesses. But the reality is that most companies survived without too much emphasis on customer service or the overall customer experience.
That has changed.
Too many customers have developed an expectation of a simple, effortless experience. More and more companies have realized this and have begun emphasizing the service aspect of their business. Especially in a time of AI and automation — robust and purposeful customer service initiatives hold immense weight in the eyes of the modern consumer.
Great customer service inevitably leads to repeat business. Loyal customers are worth fighting for — and we’ll tell you why.
Loyal customers are worth more. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10x more than their first purchase.
Loyal customers save you money. It’s no secret that acquiring new customers is far more expensive than retaining current ones. Some studies say that it can cost up to 5x more.
Good customer service is insurance. For small businesses, bad customer service can tank a company in today’s climate. Dissatisfied customers are likely to tell friends or family about their experience — or possibly take the issue to social media or review sites.
On the flip side — great customer service is also the best possible avenue for small to medium businesses to compete with their larger competitors. It’s actually an advantage.
How To Get Loyal Customers Through Great Service
1. Set a Standard
Setting acceptable service standards is a crucial first step for your business. This should be a vision that is shared throughout your organization and is carried out by every member of the company. However, this isn’t solely or your staff.
Your customers should also understand what to expect when it comes to customer service and experience. That way there are no surprises and you now have a baseline to exceed when you want to wow a customer.
2. The Right Processes and the Right Staff
There are a lot of moving parts for managers of a contact center. But one thing is for certain — you must have your house in order before the customer can be taken care of.
Having the right tools, resources and processes for your staff to utilize is a crucial component of providing excellent service. This will all depend on what platforms and methodology your company goes with, but the right Customer Relations Management (CRM) system or virtual assistant tools can elevate your employee’s range of service and increase the chances of retaining customers.
But having the right tools in the wrong hands doesn’t do anyone any good. You also have to vet new hires to ensure that they share the vision of the company and understand their role. The expectations and standards you set for customer service should be understood by any new hire. Reducing attrition for contact centers isn’t exactly a piece of cake — but it can be done with the right strategy.
Once you have a great staff in the door, it’s important that you continue providing valuable resources and education initiatives to further their capabilities. This will create a more robust customer service team — and help them feel like the company has made a real investment in them.
3. Get Feedback From Your Employees
Customer service representatives have a pretty stressful job — this is typically the nature of the work. No one wants to be helped by a negative employee, and grumpy attitudes can do serious damage to your customer’s experience. But there are ways you can improve the job satisfaction and retention of your employees.
First things first — ask them. You won’t know where the holes or pain points for your employees are if you don’t ask.
Improve your overall employee satisfaction through creative initiatives and improved workplace culture. This is all subjective, but without any effort, you won’t see any results.
4. Speed and Efficiency
There are typically two sides to successful customer service. Speed and efficiency.
One can’t really exist without the other. To truly stand out and drive customer loyalty you will have to master both. Customers today are accustomed to fast…everything. Customer service is no different. They want their issues resolved quickly.
But it’s not just about the speed. You want to take all of the efforts away from a customer inquiry or issue. The less of a headache it is for a customer to contact a representative and resolve an issue — the more likely they will be to return again and purchase.
5. Loyalty Programs
It’s all in the name — a loyalty program is there to help improve customer loyalty. These programs can even catch the attention of new customers.
Did you know that 86% of customers have joined a loyalty program at one point or another to collect points/rewards? That’s a massive number! But it makes sense — loyalty initiatives are a great way to prompt more business in the future. But once a customer has joined your program, how do you keep them around?
Great customer service is a snowball. Once you get the ball rolling it can grow into something powerful that changes your business for the better. 69% of customers that had a positive experience with a brand or app would sign up for a loyalty program. And once they’re in and have had a positive experience, it’s all uphill from there!
6. Gather Customer Feedback (And Do Something With It)
There’s no way to tell if your efforts are successful without feedback. If you are serious about driving home customer loyalty — you will seek out your customer’s opinions.
Luckily for you, we live in an age where there is no shortage of platforms for customers to voice their opinions about your product or service. Whether it’s on the phone, through email, on a survey or even social media platform — your customers are begging to tell you how they feel about your business. Listen to them!
You may think you know all of the nooks and crannies of your customer’s experience — but you really don’t. If a customer voices an issue about an interaction they had with your company, do something about it! This is not only a great way to learn about potential gaps in your customer service efforts — but it’s also an opportunity for you to shine by providing exceptional support.
Don’t just collect customer feedback as a facade that your company “cares.” Arm yourself with that feedback and put it into actionable initiatives that will drive home future customer loyalty.