Customer service that’s not just okay, but exceeds expectations makes a difference. Such a service determines whether a customer stays, buys from you again, recommends you to others, or leaves a positive rating. Excellent customer service even leads to emotional brand loyalty. In such a case, the shopper will look for your product everywhere because they know what it is for them.
Know the customer’s personal preferences – if they want it
Many customers online appreciate it when other products that are relevant to them are suggested to them. The positive effect is reinforced if direct communication, e.g., by email, is personalized. At a minimum, address your leads by name. In the best case, the entire content of the message is customized.
But beware: Not everyone likes this. Some consumers see it as an invasion of their privacy. Therefore, always choose which user data is collected and which is not.
Demonstrate understanding of each problem
Above all, employees in the customer center know this case: customers quickly become emotional when problems arise. Also, many of you may have a similar situation that you must deal with for the third time in a day. Or suddenly, there is a tough challenge in the room. It’s not easy, but right now, you can score.
Namely, take it seriously if you approach the problem with understanding despite everything. Listen patiently and ask questions until everything is understood. Then, when the solution deviates from the routine, get creative and take that extra step. A customer who feels understood and heard will be very grateful.
Speed and Accessibility
When customers contact a company directly, they usually have an acute problem. He has often done his research and tried different things beforehand. Suddenly time is running out. Now the customer turns to you and hopes for the shortest possible response time. Or even needs it to be able to meet deadlines on his part.
The quicker your response comes, the more customer service satisfaction grows. Someone does not have to be available 24/7, but there should be a 24/7 opportunity to at least make the first request. So don’t just allow questions by phone or letter; provide contact forms, messenger/chats, or e-mail addresses.
Shorten the queues
… with more employees who can be reached, not with shorter talk times. Because once someone gets through, they won’t hang up until a solution is found or initiated. It is best to give him a direct route to the right contact person for later queries.
Always remember that the customer is also an employee elsewhere or takes care of a family. He doesn’t have unlimited time. Most call during their lunch break or after work. It, therefore, makes sense to operate customer service in shifts. In B2B business, of course, this is a little different.
Provide security after the request has been sent
When customers write to you for the first time, they are automatically unsure whether the message has arrived. You should therefore send automatic confirmation e-mails that tell the consumer when you will be in touch at the latest, that the e-mail has arrived correctly, and the contact person’s name.
This gives the feeling that the matter is being taken care of. Also, the customer has something to refer to, and you may have provided an alternate contact route with the confirmation. If it is technically possible for you, paste the text of the request again. So that the customer can always see exactly what he has described to you.
Correct answers on the first try
Accurate information in the customer service response is just as important as speed. That’s logical, you think. Yes, but a hasty reply is often sent, for example, to reduce processing time. Or the employee still has an outdated status and passes on this information without checking it.
It is up to you whether you introduce the four-eyes principle before sending, send updated information to all service employees, or work with ready-made standard answers (of course, updated immediately). There are many ways. The solution mustn’t have to be called back or added to.
Self-service for simpler problems
Not every user of your product wants to contact an employee directly. He acts more flexibly in terms of time and has a stronger sense of self-efficacy when he, as a customer, can tackle something on his own. Set up easy-to-understand explanations and self-service options to do just that.
Put together an (online) manual, ideally with photos or screenshots. Make sure it’s tagged well, with lots of keywords. Also, explain everything that might seem obvious to you as an expert. For the customer, these extended FAQs are worth their weight in gold.
Find straightforward explanations for customer communication.
The more complex a product, the more service requests there are. Therefore, get together as a team and explain typical functions or problems.
Do not use as many technical terms as possible to prove your knowledge. Instead, explain so that your friends, parents, or children will understand immediately. It also helps to find pictures and comparisons. It is best to use this simplicity in the product itself. That is the art of UX design.
Hire friendly employees
This is another point that initially seems self-evident but is often not implemented. It’s about the inner attitude and the outer behavior of customer service. Properly screen new applicants and train employees to remain polite and connect with customers even when problems arise.
The following saying fits well: “There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.” As a customer, you also feel more comfortable if you speak in a friendly voice. In addition, it should be in the interest of every employee that the customer stays. To avoid disputes, you can set limits in advance as far as you can accommodate the customer.
Find employees with empathy and technical competence.
Feeling empathy, i.e., understanding how someone else is feeling and why is a core competence of service employees. It is strengthened when the employee knows the customer’s situation himself. It also helps to see them as people rather than as a source of income. As a person who wants to enjoy a service like a vacation. Make it an absolute pleasure.
Employees should not only like to talk to people but should also be able to familiarize themselves with the digital systems because these are standard in communication today. Messages must be sent to the right person, possibly with an attachment. Sometimes a video call has to take place, remote maintenance, or a file has to be edited for the customer. Look out for this competency in new applicants.
Train competent employees
Another skill that service workers need is knowledge of your brand, company, products, offerings, etc. Provide all workers with as much insight into practice, processes, changes, and so on. This shortens the time for successful processing every time. In addition, an employee who knows his stuff can explain better and respond to every case.
As soon as the induction period is over, you, as the team leader, permit every service employee to make independent decisions. If his contact person in the company acts independently, this, in turn, gives the customer the security that he is in good hands. Many then ask further questions, simply out of interest.
Knowledge automatically spreads better when all colleagues with customer contact are a well-rehearsed team. Then they will exchange ideas, tell each other about cases and help each other uncomplicatedly.
It shouldn’t be about competition over who can solve the most questions independently. Instead, it’s about reducing them as a whole – because no problems arise in the first place. If difficulties do occur, the goal is a satisfied customer. It doesn’t matter who spoke to him.
Be better than the competition.
Find out what services your direct competition offers and how they perform them. Next, see which of these make sense to you, and add one on top. Then this could soon be the criterion why a customer chooses you.
Nowadays, a possible additional service is a so-called content hub. In other words, an extensive online offer with texts, images, videos, graphics, and more provides information on the entire topic. They are sometimes entertaining, worth knowing, or simply necessary to use your product ideally.
Offer multiple channels for customer communication.
In our article, you will find a list of different communication channels. At this point, it is only essential that you include Omni channel communication in your planning. You may have a favorite medium, and then just focus on that one. Or you reduce the distances for cost reasons.
However, the customer may prefer social media because it is more accessible and integrated into everyday life. He will probably write you a message on Instagram and would like a timely reply here. Even if someone comes into your shop, there should always be a contact person who can at least forward them to the appropriate place and provide first aid.
Record all communications
Regardless of which channel something was received on, collect all questions, requests, problems, and conversation histories from each customer in one place. Preferably a CRM. This should also contain the primary data such as name, address, contract period, and customer number. See our post for more on collecting customer data.
The list of purchased products is expanded to include alerts for problems and tracking numbers of all orders. This helps in monitoring and resolving emerging requests. Talk to your IT to set up interfaces between your shop, customer service system, and CRM.
Work customer-centric instead of product-centric
Many companies think their product is so good that people buy it anyway. At the latest, however, when a question or a request comes up, and no one is listening to the customer, nothing is sold anymore. The customer then looks for alternatives, even if they are of inferior quality because they want to be treated with respect.
One idea for becoming more customer-centric is to send every employee into direct contact with them. It doesn’t matter what position you work in. Deutsche Post, for example, sends employees from internal administration to the letter centers, sorting or delivering the mail. This enables a better understanding of what is happening in the company and how it affects the customer experience across departments.
Get honest feedback
Companies often only ask to leave a review if the customer liked the service. This is also important because only buyers with a negative experience usually get a review of their own accord. The rest are happy and no longer see it as necessary to get in touch.
But as a seller, be just as grateful for negative or neutral feedback. Collect factual criticism and pass it on to all affected departments. This is the only way to optimize the service. Leave the assessment, say thank you for the honesty, clarify misunderstandings, provide solutions and promise honestly meant improvement.
Provide proactive customer service
You’ll get a big head start if you don’t wait until the customer is already concerned to react. Instead, actively ask beforehand whether everything is okay. Point out further information and services.
For example, if a delivery is delayed, send your customer notification and give a legitimate reason. Ask if the package should be sent to another location in case the customer is not there at that time. This increases acceptance since further planning is not affected.
Make help and contact channels easily accessible.
If a customer contacts you via a service hotline and has a question about contract data, it is necessary for security reasons that they identify themselves. Customer numbers, passwords, dates of birth, place of residence, and the like can be queried, and your telephone PIN is also welcome.
Here, however, a nuanced assessment of the risk is required. Increased security is essential for sensitive data, but the many questions can also deter and burden the caller. Namely, when he has to dig through many documents or files to find a password for your service that has never been used before. Therefore, allow alternative forms of identification such as security questions set up at the beginning, the answer to which is not forgotten.
Transparency in troubleshooting
If your customer has submitted a support request or reported a problem, you should update them regularly, at the latest when asked, about the current status. Avoid clichés, but explain honestly what is currently happening: Is there data or other missing things to get things done? What can be actively done to make it go faster? Are there new hurdles that were not previously considered?
If you are honest, the customer feels respected. An example that everyone knows: A train cannot just stand still, and then nothing happens. In such a case, an announcement is required with the information as to why there have been delays, how long it is taking and what is being done. Psychology shows: The reason does not even have to be particularly good. It’s all about knowing “what’s up .”That always gives security.
Don’t make hasty promises to customers that you can’t keep. Always be honest about the options and what you are currently trying to do. In retrospect, disappointed promises are often interpreted as intentional lies.
If you define a deadline, it must be adhered to. This is the only way to avoid problems for you, the customer, or subsequent planning. Even if you name a very late day from the start, the customer will understand this more than if an earlier, promised date is suddenly postponed.
Good customer service is essential. But it must not take up the entire budget and all of your time. Therefore rely on technical helpers. The software in the cloud enables a quick query of customer data via various “checks .”For example, submit a form asking for photos, numbers, location requests, or SEPA data.
For more efficiency tips, see the paperless office topic. Digital data enables easier management and faster searches for specific information.
Don’t sell anything the customer doesn’t need
We all have the worst experiences with pushy salespeople who simply cannot be brushed off. If a customer is pushed to make a purchase, they’re likely to stick with that one-time deal and give your company a wide berth. As a company, remember that it is better to build a long-term customer relationship and your company’s reputation than just do a quick deal.
This is especially important for more extended contracts. Suppose such a contract was concluded against the will of a customer. In that case, the seller’s reputation will decrease over the entire duration of the contract because the dissatisfied customer tells about his experiences.
In summary, you need employees who are up to the task and modern technical tools for excellent customer service. Also, it helps set up multiple customer contact points and be acceptable, better, and friendlier than the competition. Now nothing stands in the way of your best customer service!