How to improve customer service should be on every company’s agenda in 2021. Why? Well, because research shows that 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer great customer service.
With ecommerce sales at a high and retail sales predicted to make a comeback this year, it’s essential for both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar companies to ensure they’re offering impeccable customer service so that they don’t miss out on potential sales. Whether you’re selling products or services, offering top-notch customer service should always be at the top of your list.
Today’s customers have high expectations for customer service because they are digital-savvy. This means that every company needs to be on the ball when it comes to delivering the right kind of customer care, and making sure customers are well taken care of, satisfied and making repeat purchases.
Even if you think you’re doing everything right, chances are, there are still areas where you can improve customer service. By making some tweaks to your existing customer service programme, you may find that even seemingly insignificant changes can make a big difference to your bottom line.
Here are ten tips you can implement immediately to improve your company’s customer service and increase overall customer satisfaction.
1. Make Sure You’ve Got an Outstanding Customer Service Team
First and foremost, you must lay the foundations for great customer service. Creating a spectacular customer experience means having the right team in place.
Your customer service team is the face of your business, so you must make sure that they are well trained, passionate about their role and that you have systems in place to support them and make their jobs as seamless as possible.
It starts with hiring. Not everyone is made for customer service. You need to make sure your hiring is on point so that you employ the right people who have many of the attributes of successful customer service representatives:
- Good communication skills
Once you’ve found your dream team, you should provide them with the training and support they need to do their job well. That includes providing them with the correct tools to make running the help desk a seamless experience (more on that below). The more you empower your teams, the more you’ll get out of them.
Finally, you want to reward your teams for a job well done. When you treat your staff with recognition and appreciation, they’ll be more likely to want to go above and beyond for you.
2. Use CRM Platforms
Even with the best team in the industry, you still need to make sure they have the tools to do their job efficiently and effectively.
If you don’t have the right tools set up, your teams can struggle to remain coordinated and respond efficiently to customer queries. This is where having CRM software in place can be a lifeline for your customer service team.
eCommerce CRM software can help ensure that everyone is on the same page, which is important in establishing high customer service standards.
The advantages of having a CRM system are numerous:
- It can provide insights about each customer, which means your teams have a view into each customer’s needs and can provide a personalised service.
- It helps you engage with customers, which allows relationship building.
- They allow your customer service team to work more closely with your sales teams, which can improve the customer experience more generally through targeted cross-selling and upselling.
- They’re available across devices (e.g., mobile, desktop, tablet), which means you can help your customers anytime, anywhere.
A good CRM platform will be the backbone of your customer service strategy. It can be the difference between a seamless customer service operation and a bottleneck.
3. Listen to Your Customers
One of the most important things you can do to improve customer service is to truly listen to your customers and what they are trying to convey. Each customer is an individual, and every situation is different and should be approached as such.
Do not make any assumptions about what your customer wants and needs. Instead, simply listen to their query and understand it with empathy. Each of your customers is looking for a solution, and they want to be recognised as an individual.
This is a central concept to putting your customer at the heart of your business strategy. Remember, without customers, you have no one to sell products or services to.
So, if you can listen to your customer, display an understanding of their particular circumstances, and solve their problem, they’ll walk away from the experience feeling like they’ve been cared for and delivered to. And that’s the essence of an excellent customer experience.
4. Respond Promptly
In today’s hyper-connected digital world, most customers expect a response to their query within 24 hours. Even if it’s through a chatbot or ticketing system, acknowledging their issue quickly is key.
Then, once you’ve made the initial prompt response, you must make sure your customer support systems are organised efficiently to ensure that a live agent responds by picking up the help desk ticket quickly thereafter.
Your customer wants to know that they’re your number one priority. Replying promptly, both via automation and in-person shows your customer that you care about their business and their experience.
Make sure your responses are not only timely but also accurate and respectful. If possible, try to resolve each customer’s issue completely and correctly the first time. This shows your customer that you really care about their time.
Your customers will appreciate this approach, and you’ll be able to move through the help desk quickly, generating a reputation for proactive, timely support.
5. Demonstrate Positivity
It’s a given that customer service must be polite and professional. But being polite is not enough; it’s important to set a solution-oriented tone, and positivity can go a long way towards building positive rapport.
Customers are often frustrated or flustered because things have not gone as they expected. It’s the job of customer service representatives to be empathetic to their situation and respond to it with positivity, assuring the customer that no problem is too big to be solved.
By responding positively, your team can diffuse a stressful situation, make the customer feel cared for, and make speaking with agents a positive experience for your customers.
Remaining positive, even in difficult situations, will undoubtedly earn your company a favourable reputation and give your customers a reason to come back.
6. Show Off Your Expertise
Regardless of what you sell or offer to your customers, every business wants to be known as an expert in their field. Companies that can confidently demonstrate their expertise will be well-regarded by their customers, and of course, expertise can go a long way to building trust.
By ensuring that your entire customer service team is well-versed in your products and services and can offer support in many ways, your company will ensure that customers are in safe hands.
Firsthand knowledge of the products will help your reps understand the customer’s issues better and help them solve their problems. This means you’ll want to invest in product training for your team. Let them experience the product or service you’re offering so that they can truly understand it and extend that knowledge to the customer.
Additionally, displaying your knowledge in the form of a customer knowledge base, which customers can access themselves on your website, will empower your customers to quickly solve their own problems in many cases. This is something that many customers looking for quick, straightforward help will appreciate.
7. Know the Art of Closing the Conversation
Customer service isn’t just about starting conversations promptly; in fact, how you end customer service conversations is just as important as how you begin them!
You always want your customers to leave their interactions with your customer service team in a better state of mind at the end of a call than they were at the beginning of the call.
You can do so by ensuring that you place as much value on how your customer service team ends each customer interaction, as they do with how they open each conversation.
It’s a given that you never want to leave issues unresolved, but in addition, you also want to make it clear within each customer interaction that you care about getting things right.
Here’s how: Before ending a call, always ask if there’s anything else you can help with or any additional questions you can answer. You want to ensure you leave no loose ends while making your customer feel that they are genuinely rewarded.
Closing the conversation with a motivating and inspiring tone will instil confidence in your company and its people.
8. Own Your Mistakes
Try as we might to never make a mistake, it’s only human that once in a while, a mix-up or an error will occur. When it does, you must own up to it and take it on the chin.
Always take responsibility for your mistakes and turn a negative into a positive by making sure you’ve adequately resolved the error in a way that regains your customer’s trust in your company.
It can be challenging to admit to a mistake, but it’s the right thing to do. Apologise and reassure your customers that you will rectify the error and, most importantly, leave the customer feeling that they are being taken care of.
It may sound counterintuitive, but even a mistake provides an opportunity to provide excellent customer service that may just win over a customer and result in building a positive relationship with them.
9. Ask for Feedback
As the old adage says, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. The best way to ensure that your company is doing the best it can when it comes to customer service is to ask for feedback.
By welcoming each customer to submit a customer feedback form after their experience with your company, it will help you identify what you’re doing right (and hopefully reward the parties responsible) and determine areas that can be improved.
A simple web feedback form can generate useful insights that you would never have gained otherwise. Once you have this information, you can use it to improve systems and processes that incorporate the feedback, and implement solutions.
From there, you can continue to measure feedback over time to ensure that the ways in which you’ve addressed customer feedback have improved customer satisfaction, resulting in more positive feedback.
This continuous feedback loop is important because it ensures that your company never gets complacent, you’ll have an ongoing awareness of what’s going well, and which areas could do with improvement.
10. Go the Extra Mile
One of the unwritten rules of providing exceptional customer service is to always go a little above and beyond the customer’s expectations. These can be small gestures that make a customer feel important, such as taking the time to review their order history in your CRM or using their preferred name in each customer interaction.
Offering a personal touch and offering just a little bit of extra effort to make your customer’s experience with your company special will not go unnoticed.
In a world where nearly everything is automated, people still appreciate personal service, especially when that service over-delivers.
It needn’t cost much either. Small gestures of goodwill and offers of extra help go a long way towards increasing your margins without eating into profits.
Keep things in perspective! Customer service is a journey that is always evolving and you can continue to improve customer service indefinitely. There is always room for improvement in any customer service strategy!
If you pay close attention to what your customers are saying, how your teams are responding, and the outcomes of each interaction, you’ll always notice areas where you can tweak and improve.
This constant reach towards improvement is important because it’s how we get out of our comfort zones to continually improve. After all, your customers are the lifeblood of your business; keeping them happy is one of the most important things you can do.
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