Your company isn’t made up of magicians (unless you’re running a magician shop, of course). Nevertheless, customers should feel like you’re reading their minds when they need service. In fact, exceptional businesses put tons of effort into anticipating the needs of their buyers.
Why the push for a super-high level of customer service? Most organizations would agree that you live—or die—by your customer experience. If you’re not easy to work with, you’re not going to stay profitable for long. Alternatively, if you go the extra mile (or even a few feet), you’ll distinguish your brand from the competition.
Of course, knowing how to ramp up your customer service can be a bit puzzling. Where should you start? How will you know which measures to take? Below are several conventional and unconventional tips to get started.
Customers are used to crossing their fingers and hoping for a smooth customer service experience. Be a dream-maker (and not a deal breaker) by leveraging AI for easier customer interfaces and transactions. For instance, consider using call center software that can get all your agents on the same page. You’ll only have one platform to handle all customers’ needs. Plus, you’ll be able to deliver fast omnichannel responses.
To help you determine how well your software of choice performs, start with baseline numbers. Determine how many calls your representatives (or chatbots) currently take and from which channels. Then, figure out percentages such as customers satisfied or problems solved. Over time, you can work on getting those percentages to move up or down, depending upon what they are.
Customers aren’t expecting surprises from your brand, which is why they appreciate them so much. Statistics indicate that even if your company makes an error, you can still win hearts by showing sincere apologies (and you can multiply this effect by being a purpose-driven brand). One of the ways to apologize is to shower your customers with unanticipated gifts. Simply sending a special trinket in the mail after a customer service mishap can make a world of difference.
Your gifts don’t have to be expensive to have power, either. A $5 gift card can make a lasting impression, as can a seriously substantial coupon (think 20% off or more.) Don’t worry: The point isn’t to give away your profits or to bankrupt your business. It’s to give consumers a good reason not to go anywhere else. After all, winning new shoppers can be tough. Pay a little more attention to keep those you have.
Remember that your employees are the first to deal with everything customer-related. The happier they are, the better they’ll treat customers. That means your buyers will be less likely to complain about social media or give lousy reviews online.
To give your employees royal treatment, you’ll want to understand what they need. Survey staffers regularly to identify any gaps between what their work experience is and what it should be. Then, fill in those gaps with anything from training to flexible working arrangements to updated tech equipment. Your goal should be a team whose sincere love for the company spills over into genuine affection for customers.
Gratitude’s often in short supply. It’s easy to see why, of course. Life and work get frantic. When customer service and call center representatives move at lightning speed, they can forget the little things. That’s only human nature. Yet it’s important to thank customers, particularly those who have stuck with your brand through thick, thin—and Covid.
Thanking customers can come in many ways. You can highlight inspiring customers on social media, sharing their heartwarming stories. Or, you can send handwritten cards in the mail from your executives. You might want to invite some customers to become focus group members or beta testers for new concepts and products. Just make sure you’re always saying “thanks” in meaningful, positive ways. Though you shouldn’t expect anything in return, you’ll surely see a ROI bump.
Returns. Ugh. They’re the bane of most consumers’ existence. No one likes to jump through hoops to send the merchandise back for a refund or return. They also don’t want to print out dozens of documents or figure out how to re-package an unwanted item. This is where you can ease their troubled minds.
Look over your customer return policy as it stands. Are there any friction points you could reduce? Perhaps your customer service personnel receive common complaints about returns. Use your findings to map out a different customer return journey. Plenty of people don’t buy untested items, especially online, because they worry about complicated returns. Take away their pain point, and you may see an uptick in purchases from new customers. (P.S. Your customer experience team members will enjoy making returns easier on them, too.)
Consumers get frustrated and discouraged when they find what they want, only to discover that it’s sold out at checkout. You can untangle this web of discontent by being upfront about each item’s availability. Many brands rely on procurement software that integrates with their ecommerce platform of choice. As stock dwindles, the availability of items is updated in real time.
You can take this a step further by anticipating follow-up questions from interested customers. For instance, you might want to indicate when you expect to have an item again. You could even ask customers to add their names to waiting lists. Not only would you capture their information, but you would have a great reason to push personalized messaging. Best of all, your customer service agents won’t be as bombarded by “When can I get this?” emails and calls.
Consumers are more demanding than ever. During the pandemic, many discovered alternative suppliers for the products and services they need. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to hold onto the people who come to your brand first. Swapping and upgrading just a few protocols could transform your brand’s customer experience. No hocus pocus necessary.