Editors Note: This article was updated on July 23, 2020, originally published on November 17, 2017, and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Customer service is the backbone that holds a company together. When strong customer service is at the heart of a business model, the company will thrive.
Failure is predestined if your business doesn’t have a customer-centric focus. Having a customer-centric focus will allow you to:
According to an article in Forbes, customer-centric businesses are 60% more profitable.
Consumers feel businesses aren’t putting enough into customer service, and sales are being affected more than ever. According to American Express, the majority of American customers have bailed on buying a product or service they planned to purchase because of poor customer service.
The same research reveals that excellent customer service is something that consumers want so badly, and they’re not afraid to cut ties over it.
Over half of all those surveyed in each market and every country said they would try a new product or company if the customer service was better.
What significant mistakes are the companies who are left behind making, and what can we do to stop customers from jumping ship?
Let’s dive in.
Many companies claim to offer great customer service when they aren’t customer-centric at all!
To determine if your organization is putting the quality of customer service first by answering these questions:
Has your company gotten rid of strict rules that leave little room for employees to compromise with customers?
Are you spending money and time training employees on customer service best practices and “soft-skills” that help build relationships?
Do the leaders in your company put customers first and lead by example?
Is customer support everyone’s job and not just those on the front-line?
If you didn’t answer yes to all of these questions, you probably offer poor service to your customers.
When companies realize that they aren’t as customer-focused as they once believed, they often don’t know where to begin. Though the significant changes will take time, a great place to start is creating a customer-focused vision of what you and the company want.
Do some reading, take a customer service quiz, talk to employees, and, most importantly, get customers’ feedback. What kind of service do they envision? Once you have a plan, start making changes, such as training your employees or outsource an answering service.
In an effort to automate and scale an organization’s communication channels, many companies are opting to use automated systems. The problem with this strategy is that research shows that 90% of customers want to resolve their issues by talking to a real person, not an automated system.
There is no virtual chat, email system, or live chat to satisfy a customer’s needs fully.
They need to hear a real person’s voice when trying to solve a problem with your product or service. Phone conversations are preferred, even over face-to-face encounters. Thankfully, this customer service ruin is an easy fix: get on the phone with your customers.
Whether you must make the calls yourself, hire someone to do it, or outsource an answering service, talking to your customers is a must. If you are new to answering a customer’s call, remember the response time is significant.
At Unicom, we understand the importance of providing a high-quality calling experience.
You can’t leave them waiting on hold for a long time, if you do, it will harm your business. Phone etiquette is very crucial.
Keep in mind that you might stumble upon angry customers. Fighting fire with fire when handling an angry caller is a sure-fire way to lose customers. Avoid losing customers by training your team not to take these calls as a personal affront.
Teach them how to practice active listening and make conflict resolution a focus in your training program. After one negative experience, 51% of customers won’t do business with that company again.
Not all customers will be happy with the product or experience you provide, that is a fact. One way companies fail is by not considering that one bad experience can stop sales or cost you business with many other customers.
The Harvard Business Review report stated that 65% of customers would tell multiple people about their bad experience.
Many speak with ten or more people who, in turn, will tell others to avoid your brand.
Keep in mind the digital era we live in now. That bad experience could soon be on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, or any other social media platform.
According to a customer service report done by Microsoft, one-third of Americans have used this channel to complain about the business or customer service.
Though most customers are likely to share their bad customer service experiences with others, they are less likely to do so if they feel heard.
Employees should be trained to hear customers out, not shut them down, and promptly respond to customer complaints.
When you can, make things right with the customer. Comp a meal, offer a discount, do whatever it takes to make sure customers are satisfied after a bad experience.
If all else fails, accept that you didn’t meet the customer’s expectations and learn from it. Share that learning experience with future customers. You will be surprised by how much people like a comeback story.
One high point from that same American Express survey is that most American consumers feel companies are meeting their expectations regarding good customer service.
However, when pressed for specifics, two-fifths of consumers stated that although most companies are “helpful,” few do “anything extra” to keep their business.
If customers feel we won’t “go the extra mile” for them, we must prove otherwise. This doesn’t happen through some catchy campaign slogan or short sprints of superior customer service.
You must get creative and do some things that show your customers how important they indeed are. The hand-written thank you note and remembering their names, is a simple way to start edging out ahead of the pack.
Good news! Even if you’re making mistakes currently, it’s never too late to improve customer service. Companies that strengthen their backbone end up providing excellent service. After all, that’s what business is all about!