Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Customer Service is the magic ingredient to having those customers return over and over again to do business with you. Find out why this works so well and how to put it into action.
Customer Service Matters
The simplest and most affordable thing you can do for your business to set you apart from your competition is to develop excellent customer service. Customer service is the way that you ensure your customer’s and client’s satisfaction with your product or service. Your customer’s experience before, during and after each transaction will determine their level of loyalty which can make all the difference in whether or not your business thrives. Organizations can make the detrimental mistake of confusing politeness with good service. All the pleases and thank you’s in the world mean absolutely nothing if your customer’s expectations are not met.
Paying attention to your customer’s needs and understanding their objectives takes nothing more than a bit of attention and practice. And it’s important. Studies and surveys have repeatedly proven that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 10-25%. Think about that. What would a 10-25% increase in sales look like to you? Go ahead, quickly do the math and see how much extra money that would be at the end of every month. You can achieve this income just by focusing on giving your customer the best experience possible! The great news is, steps to improving your loyal customer base are very doable. All it takes is initiative. Here are 6 basic rules to improving your customer’s experience:
1) Be approachable:
You’ll often hear the advice to give service with a smile but all that really translates to is be approachable. Smiling isn’t enough. What you really want is to create an energy around you that makes the customer feel at ease. Being approachable not only naturally drops your customer’s guard but it can give them the confidence to be more fourth coming with any questions or concerns and the is the exact information you need to assess how you can best assist them to ensure a stellar experience.
So how do we achieve approachability? There are a lot of experts that suggest mechanical tactics like memorizing certain body language stances or making eye contact, but creating an atmosphere that’s approachable is really about mindset: Just put yourself in the headspace to be open to connecting and interacting with your customers. Get excited to learn about their objectives. Be open, be communicative and treat them like you are meeting a new acquaintance for the first time. With these objectives in mind your body language and demeanor will naturally adopt approachability without having to memorize actions that may feel unnatural. You’ll stand straighter, the tone of your voice becomes more pleasant, your body language becomes more inviting and yes, you may actually even smile.
2) Make sure you understand your customer’s needs:
Your customer is at your business for a reason, figure out why. Even though you may think the answer to this problem is obvious don’t assume. Maybe they are purchasing on behalf of their boss, maybe they are doing a price comparison, maybe they are curious about your industry but need more information, maybe they came looking for a specific product but you have something else that would suit their needs better. It is your job to fully understand what has brought this customer to you and then seek to fulfill their needs.
A crucial component of understanding a customer’s needs is active listening. Place all your concentration on what your customer is saying and respond accordingly. Ask qualifying questions to confirm that you are comprehending what is being communicated to you. Then finally prescribe a suggestion or remedy to fulfill your customer’s needs.
Understanding your customer’s needs does two things: 1) It gives you a clear roadmap on what direction you have to take to ensure the customer’s experience is positive. 2) It makes the customer feel heard and understood which is paramount. Customer’s that feel validated are more likely to associate your business with a good experience even if it was impossible to fully satisfy their needs.
3) Have Empathy:
Empathizing with your customer is a great way to make them feel valued. Even an irate customer who is exhibiting a hostile attitude can soften when they feel as if you relate to what they are going through. Putting yourself in their shoes and expressing how you understand how they feel and what they are going through is invaluable. At the very least it can prevent a customer from bad talking your business when they leave and with the power of social media today, that is definitely something you don’t want.
Empathy does more than quell an unhappy customer’s anger. It also builds trust and camaraderie between you and your customer and that strong relationship is what will keep them loyal and coming back. Far too often when customer’s express dissatisfaction with a business, that business will go on the defense to try and save face but that’s the worst thing you can do. Looking into the issue from the customer’s perspective will not make the customer feel understood, but it can also help your business to recognize what changes can be made to make interacting with your organization much easier for future clients.
4) Get creative and create solutions:
Sometimes a solution to an issue is not cut and dry. The customer might be in need of a service you don’t provide, or request a refund for a non-returnable item. Whatever the issue is, instead of automatically shooting the customer down, go above and beyond the call of duty and find creative solutions to their problem. For example, if the customer requires a service you don’t provide, assist them in finding an alternate provider. Don’t worry about sending them to your competitor. At the end of the day, that will spell out an over the top positive for the customer that can result in either positive word of mouth, or a return of that same customer at a later date. Maybe you can’t offer a customer a refund, but can you give them a small discount on a future purchase as a concession?
Keep in mind, when informing a customer that you cannot provide them with their specific need, be as informative as you can as to the reason why before offering your creative solution. This level of transparency coupled with going out of your way to find a comparable creative solution will build understanding in your customer and they will definitely appreciate that you have done everything in your power to resolve the situation.
5) Confirm your customer’s needs have been met BEFORE they walk out the door:
There is no point in taking all of these actions only for your customer to leave feeling unsatisfied. Check in with them. Ask them if they are happy with the remedies that you’ve provided. Ask them if there is anything else you can do to make their experience better. The last thing you want is to assume that they are satisfied when nothing is further from the truth. Now you’ve lost a potential loyal customer and potentially anyone else they have spoken with about their dissatisfying experience. If you do inquire about their needs being met and they express dissatisfaction, use your creative skills to find and alternate solution until you’re confident you have a happy customer on your hands.
6) Follow Up:
This may be the most crucial step in retaining loyal customers. Follow up with your happy customers. If appropriate, give them a call within a couple weeks and ask how they are doing with their new product or service. Touch base with your customers regularly via email through your newsletter. Start a drip campaign that regularly offers your loyal customers special discounts and offers. Touch base with your customers via social media. There are dozens of ways to keep in constant contact with your customer base so you can keep your relationship with your customers strong, you stay in the forefront of their minds and they feel involved with a community that cares for their needs.
These are the basic customer service techniques that will help increase your loyal customer base and in turn help to build and increase your businesses revenue. People just want to feel cared for and understood, if your business can offer that feeling along with a stellar product or service there is no way you won’t start to see a positive shift in your bottom line.