No matter what kind of business you run, a huge part of your business’ success ties back to your customer service strategy; according to a 2017 Microsoft report, more than half of consumers have stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer service. And as industries continue to get more and more competitive, building a dedication to customer service into your brand DNA is more important than ever.
At the core, customer service is just what it sounds like — servicing your customers. If you consistently provide the kind of high-level service that leaves a mark on your customers, it’s going to build a sense of trust and drive brand loyalty with your audience. And if you don’t? Well, let’s just say your customers are going to be less than impressed — and more than likely to abandon your company in favor of one of your more customer-centric competitors.
But the question is, what actually goes into creating that high level service experience for your customers? As a business owner, how can you lay the groundwork for an unparalleled customer service experience from beginning to end?
Make it simple
Consumers crave simplicity. For example, if a potential customer has a question about one of your products, they don’t want to spend 30 minutes scouring your website for your contact information. Or let’s say your customer has to return a product. They don’t want to go on a fact-finding mission to figure out your return policy (including calling your customer service line) — only to find out that they’re ineligible for a return or refund.
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The point is, the more challenging it is for your customers to get the support they need, the more likely people are to get frustrated and abandon the process — and the more likely you are to lose that customer for good.
That’s why it’s important to make your customer service process as simple, straightforward, and transparent as possible. Make sure the contact information for your customer support team is visible and easy to find on your website. Make it simple for your customers to cancel an order, make a return, or file a complaint. Make sure that all your customer service requests are being answered quickly and efficiently.
The easier and more transparent your customer service processes, the better the experience will be for your customers — and the better the results will be for your company.
Offer one-on-one customer support throughout the entire process
Imagine you’re the customer. You need to get in touch with a company’s customer support team, so you reach out through the live chat on their website. You explain the situation and ask your question, but there’s no response.
So you call their customer service number. You talk to a rep, explain the situation again, and ask your product-related questions. The rep takes down your information and tells you they’ll look into it and gets back to you.
A few days later, you haven’t heard back, so you send a follow-up message to the customer service email. A new rep responds to your email and asks you for the same information you gave the original rep. So, you explain the situation and ask your questions again… only to have the rep tell you they’ll look into it and get back to you.
And you’re right back at square one.
There are few things more frustrating to a customer than getting bounced around between customer support reps; in fact, according to a survey from Dimensional Research and ZenDesk, a whopping 72% of consumers view having to explain their situation to multiple people as a negative customer service experience.
Not only is it a waste of time and energy (for your customers and your team), but it also makes the customer feel like their issue isn’t being acknowledged or resolved, which leads to a serious sense of frustration — and can lead to them seeking out a different company to do business with.
If you want to provide an effective customer service experience, your customers need to feel like they’re getting the one-on-one support needed to actually resolve their customer service issue. Assigning a dedicated customer success manager to handle each customer service request — from the very first interaction all the way through to the resolution — will ensure that your customers have an effective, consistent experience.
When one of your support reps takes on a customer request, make sure they’re staying with that customer throughout the entire customer service journey. Train your reps on how to keep track of their requests, how often to follow up, and how to ensure your customers feel like they’re being taken care of throughout the process.
Or, if your product or service has an onboarding process, you can even take things step further and assign one customer success manager to handle a customer from onboarding throughout their entire customer journey (like we do here at Hourly).
When a customer works with one rep for the duration of their customer service experience, they’ll feel like your company is actually committed to helping them find a resolution — and, as a result, they’ll be more committed to working with your company in the long-term.
Roll up your sleeves and get into the trenches
Corporate values tend to have a trickle effect; if you truly want your brand to become synonymous with stellar customer service, that commitment to service has to start from the top.
Your company’s leadership needs to take an active role in not only shaping your customer service strategy, but in implementing that strategy and adjusting it as necessary to best serve your customers.
Carve out time on a regular basis (for yourself and your leadership team) to roll up your sleeves, get into the trenches, and tackle customer service requests. This will help you get better insights into your customers, identify any issues with your support processes, and develop the strategies necessary to continue improving your customer service strategy.
As the CEO of Hourly, I spend 30 minutes every day on the front line doing customer service — no excuses, no exceptions. Not because I have to but because I want to.
Not only has this daily practice given me insights into how to better serve our customers, but it’s also helped me better understand the challenges my customer service team deals with — which has allowed me to better deliver the resources, training, and support they need to succeed in their roles.
Spending time doing customer service, no matter how busy I am or what other responsibilities I have as CEO, has been a complete win-win — for myself, my team, and our customers.
Invest in a local customer service team
There are a lot of companies out there that will argue that outsourcing your customer service operations is the way to go to save budget.
But while outsourcing your customer service may be a more affordable option, it can lead to issues. If your customer service reps are working in a different time zone than your customer base, it could make it more challenging to get your customers responses in a timely manner.
If your reps are in a country that speaks a different language than your customer base, it could lead to language barriers that make it harder to communicate or solve complex customer problems — and the quality of your service may suffer.
If you want to provide the highest level of customer service to your customers, you need to invest in hiring a domestic customer service team that speaks the same language as your core customer demographic. Hiring domestically can limit potential communication barriers — and make the customer service experience smoother and easier for your customers.
Focus on customer service to take your business to the next level
In order for your business to succeed, your customers need to trust you. They need to want to have a sense of loyalty to your business over the long term.
And the customer service experience you provide is going to play a huge part in building that trust and loyalty.
These are the strategies my team and I use at Hourly to deliver the highest level of customer service to our customers — and using these tips as a jumping off point, you can start building the strategies to do the same for your venture, too.
So you’re interested in improving your business? Then join our online event, TNW2020, to hear how successful companies are adapting to a new landscape.