Good customer service is essential for business growth, customer satisfaction, and long-term profitability. Maintaining happy customers will increase customer retention, referrals and overall brand reputation.
Research suggests that if you have a positive experience with a company or brand, you’re likely to tell two or three people. However, if you experience poor service, you’ll tell ten or twelve people. Therefore, customer service can be a crucial element to the success of your business.
In this article, we will outline eight ways to improve customer service to ensure you retain clients and attract new business.
One: Training staff
The foundation of customer service is knowledge and training. Many small businesses focus on training staff on their products and services and how to speak to customers. However, this is only half the training required; it’s also important for staff to understand the customer’s needs – why they need your product or service, and the benefits.
Think of your customer support team as an extension to your sales team. A well-trained customer support team provides a better customer experience, leading to customer satisfaction and loyalty. As a result, you’re more likely to retain clients, upsell products and services and attract new clients.
Today, customers expect quick responses to their queries or complaints. In most circumstances, failure to react quickly to questions could mean the customer goes elsewhere. Likewise, failure to respond promptly to a complaint could make it harder to resolve the complaint. Therefore, your business needs to respond to customers in a timely manner. One way to achieve this is by investing in technology (covered in section 8 below).
Top tip: Even if you can’t resolve a complaint or answer questions immediately, you should always respond to customers and set their expectations of when an answer can be expected. This is a great way to buy you more time and keep the customer informed.
Three: Personalise the customer service experience
For efficiency, it’s best to create systems and processes to respond to customer enquiries quickly. However, in doing this, you can lose the personal touch. Customers like to feel valued and appreciated. Therefore, whenever possible, you should include personalised elements in your responses. This personalisation can be achieved by remembering their preferences, addressing them by name, and sending personalised offers.
Four: Multi-channel customer support
It’s always best to ensure your customers have different options to reach you. Also, depending on your business, you may have a diverse user base. Therefore, you should cater to their preferred communication channel. For example, younger generations typically prefer online website chat features and text messaging over using the telephone.
In providing a variety of channels you’ll be able to communicate with customers in a method that suits them best. However, this variety can be difficult for small businesses and entrepreneurs to manage. Therefore, if you need to limit the number of customer support channels, ensure you understand your customer’s preferred means of communication and focus on those. Again, customer service technology can help you manage multichannel customer support more efficiently (see section 8 below).
Five: Empower customer service staff
Today, customers expect fast resolutions to their questions or complaints. In addition, customer service titans, such as Amazon, have established an almost ideal experience regarding product issues – issuing refunds/replacements/refunds quickly without much explanation needed.
Training and empowering your staff to make decisions quickly will significantly speed up the time needed for customer support. This autonomy can include offering a refund, upgrading a service or product, or providing a discount. Continual reviews and training will ensure you’re offsetting things like funds and replacement against employees’ time. Overal, your objective should be to create the most profitable means of delivering customer service. For example, it may have cost more in time (employee wage) to resolve a complaint than the cost of a substitute.
Six: Collect and share customer feedback
Information and feedback from customer service can be vital to the growth of your business – their feedback is based on where your product/service meets the real world (where the rubber meets the road).
Regularly capturing and analysing your customer service performance can help identify opportunities to improve your business. For example, continually reviewing customer support logs can identify common questions. As a result, you could potentially eliminate frequently asked questions by addressing them earlier in the decision-making process or improving your service.
In addition, sharing good reviews and testimonials can build trust with potential customers. This can help attract new customers. There is also an online/SEO benefit if reviews and testimaonlas are captured on Facebook and Google.
Seven: Anticipate customer needs
Understanding your customer’s behavhour and anticipating their needs could increase sales. For example, a florist can email previous customers reminding them of a special occasion, such as valentines day or a personal date (such as their birthday), eliminating their need to remember to use them. There could also be an included incentive giving the customer a discount code for that occasion.
Eight: Customer service technology
Recent technological advances in automation and Artificial Intelligence have transformed customer service efficiency. As a result, you can now deliver faster response times and alternatives to more traditional forms of communication, such as email and telephone. This will not only improve business efficiency and profitability, it will also create a better, more personalised customer service experience.
Here are three simple, cost-effective customer service technologies small businesses and entrepreneurs can take advantage of:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: CRM software will help you manage customer interactions, track purchases, and provide personalised customer service – such as a reminder when it’s their birthday. There are plenty of low-cost solutions that can help small businesses organise customer information, track customer issues, and manage customer communication. Examples of affordable CRM software that small businesses can consider include HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, and Agile CRM.
- Website live chat systems: Having a chat function on your website can help your company deal with multiple enquiries simultaneously. Low-cost tools such as Trengo, LiveChat and Facebook Messenger can be installed onto your website and provide quick support for inquiries, questions, and issues.
- Email Automation: Email automation will allow you to send emails to customers based on their actions, such as making a purchase, abandoning a cart, or signing up for a newsletter. Email automation can help keep customers informed, provide relevant information, and offer discounts or promotions. Popular email automation software includes Mailchimp*, Constant Contact, and Sendinblue.
Top tip: If you see the benefit of these technologies, but the investment is too high for your business, you can outsource some of your customer service needs to a virtual assistant – who will use this technology, but their costs are spread amongst multiple clients. A company providing virtual assistant services can provide cost-effective and flexible administrative support to businesses, allowing you to focus on core tasks and increase productivity.
How ETC can help
If you need help streamlining your business operations and improving your return on investment, please get in touch.
If you are new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.
*Mailchimp is ETC’s current email marketing solution and the link provided in the article is an affiliate link. If you prefer a direct link, please click here: Mailchimp.