The internet has forever changed the way we do business. Whether you’re a mom and pop ice cream stand or an international media conglomerate, the advent of the internet has meant increased competition and scrutiny. With computers in every pocket, local businesses can no longer afford to rest on their laurels. They’re forced to compete not only with every other business in town but with the companies offering their product for delivery and subscription as well. Like it or not, you’ll need a secret weapon to give yourself the edge over competitors near and far.
Allow us to make the argument for customer service as a secret weapon. While quality customer care is hardly a secret, its power is often untapped. With the customer experience starting to matter more and more, businesses large and small can benefit from becoming early adopters of stellar customer service. There a handful of simple but effective tools you can use to put your company ahead of the game.
The foundation of great customer service is availability. When your customers need you, be there for them in as many ways as possible. While this sounds simple, many businesses struggle to meet customers where they’re at. It helps to remember that customers are, first and foremost, humans. We all have an innate desire to be heard, to feel important and to be understood. When you embrace that need, your customers will never forget the way you made them feel.
You may think accessibility means handing out your personal phone number to every client with whom you work. While you certainly can provide contact info at your discretion, we’d recommend keeping your work/life balance as healthy as possible. Rather than being at your customers’ beck and call 24 hours a day, assemble a team of professional customer service representatives who can serve callers the way you would if you had the time.
When someone makes a purchase from your company, how do you ensure they’ll return? It’s a conundrum that plagues entrepreneurs in every industry. The answer is simpler than you might expect. By staying relevant to the needs of your customers, and by delivering on your promises every time, they’ll come back time and time again. Doing so is easier said than done, of course.
Stay relevant with your customers by keeping a finger on the pulse of their needs. Understand how they get their information, then deliver it to them accordingly. Never make assumptions about your customers. Instead, take time to listen to individual needs and respond in the best way you know how. For some companies, this means incorporating short surveys into the user experience. Others opt to focus group product ideas and marketing campaigns. Whatever path you take, stay open to the feedback you receive. After all, what’s the point in listening to customers if you’re not actually hearing them out?
Keep It Short (and Simple!)
Our increasingly digitized society hasn’t just changed shopping habits since smartphones became ubiquitous. Our attention spans have suffered from the constant barrage of incoming messages, alerts, and notifications. A Microsoft study found that people lose concentration after a mere eight seconds of focus. Make the most of this short attention span by becoming a more efficient communicator.
Public-facing employees should work to improve their writing and speaking skills to answer questions quickly and thoroughly. Plenty of training or even an improv class can help propel reserved employees to the customer-focused mindset from which they should be operating. By investing in your team, you’ll see better communication and improved customer service.
Take a Proactive Approach
Consider the excellent customer service you’ve received in the past. Perhaps you were served a surprise dessert course at a favorite restaurant or received a birthday coupon in the mail. Unexpected, pleasant surprises can do a lot to win the favor of your customers. Rather than waiting for clients to come to you for great service, provide reasons for them to want to do business with you.
This process begins before you ever launch a product or offer a service. Start by considering the problems of your customer base. Find solutions that will satisfy, delight or entertain them. The rest will come easily, so long as you listen and learn from your customers along the way.
Customer service doesn’t have to be hard. By understanding the motivations, needs and desires of your customers, you’ll be ready to meet them where they are. Moreover, you’ll have the tools you need to get them excited about your offerings, which leads to greater odds of repeat business. Use these tips to ensure you’re developing the best possible customer service strategy. When in doubt, talk to your customers. After all, they’re the catalyst and solution to many of your most common challenges!
Additional Chapters in the Complete Free Guide To Setting A Winning Customer Service Strategy