Do you remember the last time you had an unpleasant experience with a service or product? Of course, you do. As paying customers, we’re looking to get value for our money. Yet we may find that at times the service or product fails to live up to the sales pitch. Perhaps the company does not answer emails or phone calls, the staff is clueless and disinterested, or you are given the run around when you called to report a problem.
What is Excellent Customer Service?
What is the definition of excellent customer service? The short version is making sure the customer is happy. The longer version is to ensure the customer or client is satisfied with the product or service provided, and with the sales, delivery, installation, and other components of the purchasing process.
Excellent customer service means helping customers efficiently, in a friendly manner. It’s essential to be able to handle issues for customers and to do your best to ensure they are satisfied. Providing excellent service is one of the most important things that can differentiate your business from its competitors.
Here are some tips on how to provide excellent customer service:
1. Know Your Product or Service
In order to provide good customer service, you need to know what you’re selling, inside and out. Make sure you — and all of your customer-facing staff — know how your products or services work. Be aware of the most common questions customers ask and know how to articulate the answers that will leave them satisfied.
2. Know your customers
Great interactions begin with knowing your customers wants and needs. Customers love personalization. Get to know your customers, remember their names and previous conversations. If needed, make a note of what was discussed previously so you can refer to it the next time you meet.
3. Your customer service team needs the right tools
There is just no substitute for knowing your customers. The right support tools make it easy. You’d be surprised at the number of meaningful conversations you can have when you no longer have to stumble around in the dark.
4. Respond as quickly as possible
One of the biggest factors in good customer service is speed, especially when a client is requesting something that’s time sensitive.
From a certain perspective, addressing a horde of complaints or negative comments seems overwhelming. As we’ll continue to address throughout the list, there’s ways of dealing with problems, even if you have to tell your customers you don’t know the answer. Your employees have to have no fears when it comes to tackling tough problems in an a timely and efficient manner.
5. Always use positive language
Positive language is a great way to avoid accidental conflicts sprung from miscommunication. While the change is subtle, the effects are drastic.
Say one of your products is backordered for a month and you need to relay this information to a customer immediately. Consider the following responses:
- Negative language: “I can’t get you that product until next month. It is back-ordered and unavailable at this time.”
- Positive language: “That product will be available next month. I can place the order for you right now and make sure that it is sent to you as soon as it reaches our warehouse!”
Redirecting the conversation from negative to positive places focus on the proposed solution. When the outcome takes center stage, it reduces the odds that customers will be upset.
6. Apologize for any inconvenience
The following advice comes straight from the Customer Support Rule Book. Whatever the issue, and whatever role your company played in the issue, you need to apologize to the customer. If the consumer’s credit card did not work, tell them you’re sorry for their inconvenience or that it happened.
7. Think long term – A customer is for life
Think long term when dealing with customers. By keeping customers happy, they will be loyal and through word of mouth, will do the marketing for you. In fact, according to author Pete Blackshaw, a satisfied customer tells at least three friends (whereas an angry customer tells 3,000!)
8. Provide incentives and rewards
There are hundreds of businesses that provide loyalty cards and memberships to several of their regular users. These are called Rewards and Incentives and they make a profound impact on a customer’s point of view and opinion about your business.
If you want your customers to be happy, you can reward them with incentives and bonuses that recognize their loyalty and uniqueness. Amazon’s Prime Membership is one such example.
Businesses can also make customers feel valued by highlighting them or their views on the business’ website or app. The customer feels proud and loves the fact that they are doing business with you.
9. Use Reputation Management Tools
With the power of the Internet, customers now have multiple channels available to air their grievances about a poor experience with a business. They have social media, blogs, forums, review sites and so on. Remember how much word-of-mouth matters. Use reputation management services to continually be on the lookout for how your company is perceived, especially online. A good online presence is marketing that comes for free, but if you miss the mark, it will cost you big.
10. Enhance your customer service strategy
Your staff may have the skills and know-how to interact with your customers. But what organizational strategies can you employ to please customers? Practice proactive customer service by making your customers happy before they come to you with problems. Here’s how:
- Get personal.
- Be available.
- Cater to your customers.
- Create communities.
Leading a customer support team means keeping a constant, conscious balance: What are the places we can go the extra mile to give customers the best possible experience? What choices do we need to make in order to keep a healthy, growing business? Whether you’re business-centric, customer-centric, or anywhere in the middle, find out what excellent customer service means to you and your team.