Customer Service is critical to most businesses, but too often companies miss the mark because they neglect the basics that make customers happy. Here are some ways that you can improve on your already stellar service with simple actions that customers really appreciate.
Satisfied customers place more orders – and larger orders — than unhappy customers, so it pays to ensure that you do everything you can to make it easy to place orders. There are few things customers hate more than listening to the ringing of an unanswered phone, yet many companies cut staffing in their call centers to the bone. Companies should consider the inbound call center to be as much a profit center as it is a cost center. Customers who are forced to wait to place an order are likely to hang up and call a competitor.
Ensuring that your call center is staffed so that incoming calls are answered within the first few rings will help keep customers on the line to place orders. This results in more sales and higher revenue that usually more than offsets the cost of the additional CSRs.
Immediate Direct Response
Most people today are pressed for time, and few of us have the patience to navigate through menus or wait for service. This is especially true in situations where the customer is either trying to buy something or is looking for support for something they already bought.
Most customers dislike IVR (Interactive voice recognition) systems or automated attendant services, so setting up your direct response call center so calls go straight to a live person sets you apart from competitors and creates an immediate feeling of connection with the customer.
The world is a much more global place than ever before, and products and services cross borders. As a result, you may find that your customer base speaks a mixture of languages. Your call center team should have the ability to communicate with a customer in the customer’s native tongue. Forcing customers to explain a problem in a language they aren’t comfortable speaking is no way to show that you value their business.
Your call center, and in fact all customer facing teams, should have individuals who speak the same language as your customers. That doesn’t mean that your entire call center staff must be multi-lingual, but it does mean a customer should have access to someone who speaks their language.
Knowledgeable and Educated
Perhaps the most infuriating thing for customers calling a company is to have their call shunted from person to person because the person on the other end doesn’t have the expertise to answer their questions. Resources spent on improving the call center team’s product knowledge are not wasted when they contribute to customer satisfaction and faster or larger sales. Hiring intelligent people and training them to understand your product or service is one of the best investments you can make to improve customer service.
Education and training are wasted if you don’t empower your team to act on the customer’s behalf. Ensure that escalation paths and procedures are clear and well defined, but do your best to enable the CSRs to solve as many problems as they can before they need to escalate a request. Make it clear to the team what they can and can’t do, and make sure that the escalation path is open. Nothing angers a customer more than being told they need to speak with a supervisor or manager and then being told that no one is available. Empowering your people is less costly than losing a customer.
These steps are simple and effective and they are not prohibitively expensive, especially when compared to the cost of losing a customer. Research shows that it can cost up to 10 times more to land a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. Taking steps to improve customer service will help you retain your customer base and make it easier to land new customers because they will recognize how much you and your team value superior customer service.
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