Treating your customers or clients to exemplary service is an integral part of any successful business and can have a major impact in its long-term future. Not doing it can have powerfully negative results. In fact, according to Zendesk, 39 percent of customers continue to avoid companies two or more years after a bad experience, so not taking this seriously can have major repercussions.
Whether you’re looking to retain your existing customers or increase your word-of-mouth mentions, good service is key and doesn’t have to cost you or your business the earth. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your business is keeping its customers happy through excellent customer service, taking your commercial success to the next level.
1. Getting to know your customers
Be honest with yourself, what do they dislike about your products or service? How do they feel about the way you handle complaints? Are they repeat? If not, why not? A great way of finding all this is out is by using surveys to measure customer satisfaction and to gauge where the pain points across your business are hiding, which you can then address and eliminate. You might need to hire an external supplier to develop the questions and interpret the findings but, more often than not, the end results justify the cost.
2. Building customer relationships
People are more likely to trust you as a business if you don’t lose the human touch. Nowadays lots of businesses rely on technology to interact or keep in touch with their customers, meaning they have to try even harder to make customers feel valued.
It’s not impossible to do this through technology, but it has to be supported by employees going the extra mile. Every customer, regardless of the sector or product, wants effective help and fast resolutions and they should be aware of this from the frontline of your business right through to senior management. This is vital to making your customers feel valued and building long-lasting relationships.
3. Please your customers at every touchpoint
This might sound simple, but again it’s vital to excellent customer service. If you are a webstore, make sure you offer customer service touchpoints throughout the online customer journey. If you rely on telephone customer service lines, make sure your employees answer the phone with a smile on their face. Many phone experts say customers will hear the smile in the employees’ voices. Think about how you like to be treated when you interact with a company. It’s not a hard thing to do, and it can start with something as straightforward as giving your employees leeway to meet customers’ needs.
Hire people that love people. Your HR team should be looking for not only people with good experience, but people that want to help your customers and put a customer’s needs above anything else. As Mr Selfridges once said, ‘the customer is always right’. While we all know that this may not be true in every case, it helps to approach every problem with this ethos firmly in the forefront of your mind.
4. Forecasting the future
There’s nothing more frustrating than carefully planning a purchase only to make up your mind and then find the item is out of stock. We have all been there. While stock related or resourcing issues will sometimes occur in every business, especially with the most popular products, properly managing your stock flow and ensuring you’re aware of potential spikes in demand will save you and your customers heartache.
If you don’t have the item you advertise available to buy, chances are one of your competitors will and more often than not customers will seek to purchase from them instead of you. With figures showing that attracting a new customer is five times more expensive than keeping an existing one, your business cannot afford to disappoint its customers. Develop meaningful sales forecasts in terms of basic units, predicting weekly sales for the first few months and monthly sales for the year ahead. Be sure to consider possible scenarios that might affect this, such as a 10 percent rise or fall in sales.
Of course, sometimes this level of advance forecasting is just not possible, for a number of reasons. But, if your employees are able to reserve the item for when it is next in stock, you’ll still be able to find a way around the problem.
By following these simple steps, you will be able to keep your most important asset happy – your customers. So what are you waiting for!
By David Haxton