Companies with excellent customer service understand that it’s not just about answering the questions customers ask, or even anticipating their needs and suggesting products they might like. It begins with an understanding of who your customers are as individuals.
It means taking time to get to know them, understand their challenges and pains, and then find ways to solve their problems in a way that goes beyond simply selling them something new. After all, no one likes being sold to or feeling like a number instead of a person. But unfortunately, excellent customer service seems in short supply these days.
In this article we’ll look at why excellent customer service is important for businesses of any size, what makes for good vs bad service, and how you can implement these ideas in your own company – from receptionists all the way up to the CEO.
Why is Customer Service Important?
We’ve all dealt with bad customer service – the kind where representatives are rude, indifferent, or can’t even be bothered to actually take ownership of their company. The impact bad customer service can have on businesses can be devastating and costly. It can cost companies anywhere from 5 to 25% of their revenue. It also costs them customers: as many as 80% of displeased customers will turn to a competitor.
Bad customer service also has a long-term negative impact. It can create harmful word-of-mouth that can make customers feel uncomfortable recommending your business to others. It can also make you seem unprofessional or even disorganized.
What Makes for Good Customer Service?
Conversations between customers and companies should be as natural as possible, without feeling forced or scripted. When you’re connecting with your customers, you’re sparking a genuine exchange of ideas, emotions, and needs.
Good customer service goes beyond solving problems and answering questions. It’s about being someone who can understand, connect and empathize with customers on a personal level. Someone who genuinely wants to help solve their problems and make their lives better in some way. It is that human connection that makes customers feel valued, like they matter to you.
What Does Great Customer Service Look Like?
While you can’t promise your customers a perfect experience every time, you can promise that you’ll do everything in your power to achieve it. Great customer service is proactive, anticipating customers’ needs and desires, and then delivering on them – regardless of whether they’ve actually asked for it.
What exactly should good customer service look like? Customer service representatives should sound engaged and enthusiastic, like they truly enjoy their work and care about the customers they’re serving.
Customer service reps should be knowledgeable and able to answer questions thoroughly. They should also be able to recognize and solve problems, and be able to refer customers to appropriate resources when they can’t.
Ideally, they can communicate in the language and tone that’s appropriate for your industry or product, with language that’s friendly and inviting to customers.
Steps to Build a Culture of Excellent Customer Service
Good customer service is important, but excellent customer service is rare. Here are some steps to help you grow a culture of excellent customer service:
Establish a Tone at the Top
Customers and employees subconsciously look to the CEO and leadership team as a reflection of the company. If they appear disinterested in customers or unapproachable, customers will pick up on it and feel unappreciated. Conversely, if they appear helpful and engaged, customers will feel more at ease and have a better experience.
Create a Customer-First Culture
A customer-first culture means employees are putting customers’ needs before their own. It means that customer service reps make decisions based on what’s best for the customer – even if it means inconveniencing or inconveniencing themselves. It means that every member of your company is always looking for ways to help customers.
Hire for Customer Service Abilities
When you’re hiring new employees, look for people who care about others and want to help them find solutions. Make customer service part of your culture by teaching your employees to see customers as individuals, with hopes, dreams, and challenges that deserve to be heard.
Train for Excellent Customer Service
Make sure your employees know how to listen carefully so they can hear clearly what customers are saying. They should know how to get the most out of their client interactions in order to provide the best customer service possible.
Institute a Customer Feedback Program
Customer feedback programs can be as simple as asking customers to give you a rating out of five stars after a transaction. You can also ask them to leave a short comment, or even email a survey to them. Whatever you do, use that information as a way to improve.
Factor Customer Experience Into Your Culture
If a customer service representative is rude, you’ll likely lose a customer – and they’re much more likely to tell their friends and family about it than someone whose issue was resolved quickly and pleasantly. Make sure customer experiences are factored into employee evaluations, and that you’re tracking complaints and compliments to see what areas need improvement.
Make Your Company a Great Place to Work
Happiness among your employees can make or break the level of customer service you offer. When your employees are happy, they’ll be more productive, more motivated – and more likely to go above and beyond for customers.
Good Customer Service vs. Bad Customer Service
In any business, good customer service can have a big impact. However, great customer service has the potential to build loyalty and make customers your biggest evangelists. Achieving excellence in customer service involves thinking of your customers as people first and foremost – not opportunities or even transactions. It means that every member of your company is focused on their customers’ needs above all else.
Great customer service is a combination of excellent communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and genuine concern for the happiness of those you’re serving.
Empathy is perhaps the most powerful part of excellent customer service. Empathy means you can put yourself in the shoes of your customers, understanding their problems and needs like an old friend. It means truly caring about what they have to say, taking genuine interest in their stories and experiences.
The best customer service representatives act as a listening ear for customers – not merely a mouthpiece designed to spew information at them. They genuinely want to connect with customers on a human level.
3 Steps to Improving Your Customer Service Culture
Here are three steps you can take to improve your customer service culture:
1. Make Customer Service a Priority
If customer service is important, then it needs to be treated like it’s important. Look at the number of customers you’ve lost in the last year and decide how much money each one would have spent if they had stayed. Adjust your budget so that outstanding customer service representatives are a priority.
2. Ask for Customer Feedback
Everyone wants to be told when they’re doing a good job. Use customer feedback surveys as a way to understand what customers think of your service. When you read their comments, take note of the areas where they’re happiest and need the most improvement. Don’t assume that your existing customer service is great and customers are happy without measuring it.
3. Invest in Customer Service Training
In addition to hiring customer service reps who have the right skills and attitudes, invest in training to give your whole team new skills and knowledge. Help them see customer service as a priority that they need to make available to their customers.
Why is Excellent Customer Service so Rare?
Let’s face it: most customer service experiences are bad.
Many companies view customer service as a cost to be minimized, rather than an opportunity to make money and build relationships. When customers have negative experiences, they’re more likely to tell others – making it a bad investment. But when they have positive experiences, they’re more likely to tell others – making good customer service a fantastic investment.
Contact Answer Aide to Learn More About How An Answering Service Can Help Improve Your Customer Service Quality
There’s a reason excellent customer service is so sought after. When someone receives incredible service, they almost always want to tell others about it. These are the types of businesses that thrive and survive, even in the most competitive industries.
The best companies know that excellent customer service doesn’t just help customers feel satisfied – it makes them loyal fans who want to stay with your brand for the long haul. What once started as a quick conversation about a product or service becomes a relationship. These are the customers you want: the ones who feel appreciated and loved by your company.
If you’re ready to get started with a professional answering service, we’re here to help. Contact Answer Aide by calling (866) 427-3500 or by filling out our online form. We’re happy to partner with you to support your business while it grows.