The backbone of any successful business is great customer service.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best product or service in the market. If you don’t know how to treat your customers right, they will settle for the next best thing.
And with everyone connected through social media and the internet, bad customer experiences can easily turn into damaging negative reviews. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of any of those. Get a couple of 1-star reviews on Yelp and see your sales plummet. If you don’t address these reviews, they can spread in social media until your reputation turns to mud.
That’s why it’s important that your business provides better than good customer service. You have to elevate it to “great.”
The key to that is your employees. After all, they are the ones who face your customers directly.
Of course, some small businesses prioritize sales over customer service because that is where the money is but that should not be the case.
Winning customers is one thing, but fostering loyalty is just as important. In fact, good customer service can actually increase sales.
Just as negative reviews can spread online, positive customer feedback can too. The happier people are with your company, the more loyal they become to you. This improves the chances of them telling their friends about how awesome you are.
So yes, it is important to show your customers that you care. And you start doing that with your employees. To help you out, here are some simple ways to improve the customer experience:
Create a customer service plan and strategy
Customer service is more than just smiling and being polite to customers.
You should create a concrete plan and strategy that your employees can adhere to. This is especially important when you’re dealing with unhappy customers. With no plan or strategy, your staff will fall back on what they think is “good” customer service, which can be different for everyone.
Establish a guideline that includes a unified vision of what great customer service is for the company and a common goal to strive for. With a concrete plan, your employees can be on the same page when it comes to providing great customer service.
Equip your people with the right technology
A lot of entrepreneurs think new technology equates to new costs. In the past, that may have been the case. Most of the best business technologies required large capital investments.
But things have changed with the rise of cloud technology. Now, there are so many software as a service (SaaS) solutions for almost every business niche.
Think about what you need to operate as a business. There is probably at least one cloud-hosted SaaS product available for each need. And because it is a cloud service from a third party, your business doesn’t have to invest in expensive IT infrastructure. You just subscribe to the service as needed.
Take business communications. In the past, only enterprises were able to implement the best on-premises systems of the time because it required large capital investment in expensive hardware like servers and PBX boxes. With the rise of cloud phone system providers like RingCentral, however, even small businesses can now have a complete communications system that can improve customer experience without the need to shell out large amounts of money at once.
Invest in technology that automates, or at least supplements, some of your employees’ tasks. By doing this, you are increasing efficiency and productivity. But most of all, it reduces (or in some cases, completely takes out) the human element that can be prone to mistakes. Through technology, you can achieve consistency without worry and focus more on providing great customer service.
Properly train your staff
A good plan and strategy is all well and good. But if your employees are not aware of it, then it will all be for naught.
While your employees might have natural nurturing skills, that will not be enough. There will be situations when they won’t know what to do. Training them to understand and execute the customer service strategy prepares them to handle different customer scenarios.
While you are at it, think about this:
Equipping your staff is a great idea. But letting them figure the tech out on their own will only add to their problems instead of solving the existing ones. Provide your staff with the right training, not only on how to use the new tech, but also on how it helps to provide better service to your customers.
Aside from having well-trained employees, you would also get happier employees.Customer service can be pretty stressful. But having the right training certainly cuts back on employee stress because they’d know how to handle complicated situations.
Use data and feedback to calibrate your customer service strategy
Even if you already have a customer service strategy in place, it does not mean that you have everything set. It should always take your customers’ needs into consideration.
How do you do it? By listening to feedback. Open all possible communications channels. Invite focus groups, conduct surveys, check review sites, and accept direct feedback from customers.
You should also look at your own data. For example, you can review your phone call metrics to see which areas are making the most customer service calls to your company. This could show that the customers in that city are not as happy as they should be with your product.
You can also check other information such as your churn numbers. Do you have a high number of cancellations? Learn the answers to these questions.
With both feedback and data analysis, you can find out if you need to make adjustments to your customer service strategy.
Set rewards and accountability
Your employees should understand the direct effect their actions have on the company. Set up a performance management system that tells you if the worker is able to meet expectations.
If the employee is not performing well, then there should be consequences. If they have exceeded expectations, then they should be recognized for it.
By setting this up, you are giving your staff a sense of ownership. They know they are accountable for their actions, and they know that they will be recognized if they do a good job.
These are just some general tips that you can follow, but you can try other approaches. What you need to remember is that great customer service is a big part of customer retention. So even if you are a small business, this is something you have to invest in.
What are you guys doing to support your staff’s customer service initiatives? Share your best practices below!