When mapping out your business objective, it can be easy to put customer service lower on the totem pole. Growth tends to be a sexier effort than retention.
But customer service representatives are a key element to your business that shouldn't be taken for granted. They handle the bulk of the customer experience with your brand, and in many cases, customers' perception of your brand can be tied more strongly to customer service experiences than your product itself.
Almost all of us have a memorable story we could share of a frustrating call that left you wondering, "How in the world does this person have a job here?" Even worse — some businesses are known to be dreadful because every time you call, you get transferred multiple times, and not one person seems to know the answer you're looking for.
Well, in the era of sharing everything in the digital world, one bad interaction can have a long-lasting negative impact on your reputation. On the flip side, each positive experience you deliver has the ability to attract new customers with the best form of advertising: word-of-mouth.
Even with the rise of self-service options available today, customers still prefer a live agent when looking for support. Not only do they want to speak to an actual person, but they're also expecting high-quality service that's personalised and competent. In a study conducted in 2017, 54% of the respondents said they have higher expectations for customer service than they did just one year prior.
Value Your Customer Feedback
Every single experience a consumer has with your business is important. Ideally, each customer that interacts with your business should feel like they matter.
There is no shortage of platforms providing online reviews, and people have realised the weight their testimony can have. When the transaction goes smoothly, and their expectations are exceeded, consumers are happy to refer family and friends to that business. But when they're left feeling unsatisfied, most people feel better after leaving a bad review, almost like it's their duty to warn others of what to expect.
Either way, customer reviews are vital to your business. A recent study showed that 91% of respondents said they read at least one review before making a purchase decision on a product, business, or service. You can't make every person happy all of the time, but you can do your best to find a solution they can feel good about. Having a support team in place to make your customers feel heard and understood can go a long way for damage control.
That doesn't mean you have to give every upset customer everything they ask for to avoid negative reviews altogether, but you should respond to all complaints in a timely manner and respectfully address their issues. Putting a dedicated person in charge of monitoring online reviews can help put out fires before they get too big and show customers you care about their needs.
Understand That Happy Customers Become Loyal Customers
We're seeing customer loyalty programs almost everywhere because they work.
Customer loyalty guarantees consistent cash flow for your business. If you can provide an exceptional experience to your customers, you will keep a large portion of them coming back. It's simple, really — When you prioritise customer service, you will retain customers at a much higher rate.
Research shows that existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products from your business, and they're willing to spend 31% more when compared to new customers. Clearly, they're worth keeping around.
Not only will loyal customers bring in more revenue, but they will also naturally help you acquire new customers by sharing their experience. Brand loyalty stems from trust, and a customer service representative has the ability to make a connection with each person they communicate with. Building a rapport with your customers is what sets you apart from the competition.
Your Customer Service Helps You Save Money
Investing in your customer service strategy will save the company money in more ways than one. Analysts say that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.
Customers have more choices today than they ever have, so it has become increasingly more important to understand their needs. The top successful brands are proactive about listening to customer complaints and resolving issues instead of ignoring them.
Your customer support team has direct communication and the ability to ask valuable questions that can provide insight into what they're looking for. Instead of emailing surveys to customers, encourage your customer service representatives to bring up questions during their interactions organically, and you'll likely get more responses.
You can use that information to maintain a competitive edge and improve products, marketing, and even employee training. It all goes full circle — the more you improve the customer experience, the less friction they'll be between customers and employees, which will result in more sales. Even further, customer service representatives who enjoy what they do will work harder to meet customers' needs, resulting in better customer loyalty.
Customer Service Reps Have Influence
The customer support team you have in place should accurately portray your brand's image and embody your company values. In some cases, this may be the only human interaction consumers have with your company, so these interactions should be taken seriously.
That position holds a lot more power than you might think of when outlining the job description. Make an effort to make them feel valued, and they'll represent your company with pride.
No matter your business model, the customer service rep usually has the first and last communication with the consumer. Therefore it is the one most remembered. It can be a pivotal moment. They must reflect your company's mission and leave a positive impression on the customer.
A solid team should have a clear plan on how to handle different scenarios to improve customer satisfaction and lower churn rate. They will feel prepared with the right questions to ask, offer a sense of compassion, and provide solutions to better the experience. You can take the customer experience a step further by searching your customer relationship management system to find similar situations and resolve any issues before the customer complains. That's exceptional customer service.
Customer service is an integral part of the customer experience we all keep talking about. Your company needs to have its own dedicated department. The customer support team should feel respected and take pride in their position to represent your company in the best way possible.
All companies have kinks to work out here and there — it's how you handle them that matters. Each incident could be leveraged as a growth opportunity when handled appropriately. If a product could be better, make it happen. If there's a miscommunication on the sales floor, clear it up. You'll find the areas you could be better at by asking the customer service team.
Be clear on what you expect and where the company is headed. When your team feels included in your long-term goals, they'll be more likely to work harder for the business. Exceptional service starts from the top and makes people feel important — a feeling that sticks with you long after you've made the purchase.
A brand's reputation is extremely important to your digital footprint. You can't avoid negative reviews altogether, but if you acknowledge them quickly and appropriately, you can potentially save a customer and put a stop to the problem before it gets out of control.
There's no denying the importance of customer service and the impact it can have on your business. In a world that's gone ultra automated, the personalised customer support that is efficient and involved is the extra touch that can make all the difference.
Give your customers the best experience possible and put together a customer service strategy that will foster loyalty.