It’s pretty common for a company to proclaim superior customer service, but at the end of the day are the words empty? Customers hate being just a number standing in a long line while they wait on help, especially if they feel like they weren’t treated fairly in the first place.
Unfortunately, as companies grow, the customer service department becomes more complicated with intricate phone trees. In addition to feeling unheard they feel like you’ve placed obstacles to prevent them from voicing their grievances.
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Bad customer service stems from one problem - failure to make the customer a priority. At the end of the day, you have a responsibility to delight your clients to ensure that even when things go wrong (and they occasionally will), they feel like you’re on their side.
Customer service doesn’t begin and end in the check out line or in the returns department. Delight is only delivered if everyone from management to marketing cares about the customer experience with your brand.
1. Phone: Answering Customer Calls
Many customers first contact with a company is via phone call. They might call to learn more about products or services, or they might be calling because they have a problem.
Regardless of why they’re calling, if you don’t have a person dedicated to answering the phone, then their call is an interruption to whatever you're working on in that moment. The trick is trying not to sound as if you feel annoyed or rushed.
A lot companies recommend smiling on the phone because it will brighten your voice. Sometimes, that’s just not practical, and you might not be a smiley person.
The quality of your customer service on the phone doesn’t end with a happy face. Instead, the best service requires you taking note of the details. Grab the customers name, and then use it. Listen, and respond appropriately, and never interrupt. If you can’t answer the question, try to find someone who can without sending them back and forth from one team member to another.
It also helps to choose a client representative who builds a relationship with your customers, and who will provide a consistent point of contact for a customer when they call you company.
If you think customer service over a phone call isn’t a big deal, think again. Some of the most viewed customer service calls on Youtube are bad ones — namely Comcast. You can watch story after cringe-worthy story of customers trying to disconnect services but getting stuck on a phone call with a hostile employee demanding the customer tell them precisely why they want to stop services and why they are making a wrong decision.
Moral of the story: Don’t be like Comcast.
Beyond phone calls, your customer might appreciate reaching your company via text message. You can use a live chat service or bot to answer common questions or have a designated employee who responds to inquiries.
2. Email: Delivering Delight to your Customer’s Inbox
Timex is a watch company that’s been in business since 1854, and maybe it’s customer service that’s kept the company ticking for so long.
One long-time customer’s watch was broken after he was in a hit and run accident on his bicycle. He sent an email to Timex to figure how much it was going to cost him to repair it, and this was their response:
It was such an over-the-top positive response that their email went viral and probably helped them find new customers in the process. Not to mention one pleased customer who had a better day in an otherwise bad situation.
The best customer service over email is always human. Meaning it’s better to respond as an individual at the company and not just “as the company.” This is as simple as customizing templates to feel less generic and signing off with your name.
Creating templates helps improve efficiency and speed matters when someone has a problem with your product or service.
3. Live Chat: Providing Customers Instant Gratification
When customers have a problem, they want a solution as quick and painless as possible. Live chat has become a popular option because it doesn’t require waiting on a phone call, and typically answers are provided within minutes of sending the first inquiry.
Ruffwear is a company that provides various types of dog gear for active pet owners and their pup. For browsers on their website, live chat both provides suggestions for more content and answers customers questions.
Details, like adding a typing indicator and sending customers the chat transcript via email, will ultimately deliver delight.
Technology has made live chat even easier for companies. It’s possible to have all the common questions answered via automated responses, but you’d be notified once the customer needs additional assistance.
4. Social Media: Actively Engaging Your Community
Social media has become a staple in many people’s daily routine. For some, it has become something they check before they get out of the bed in the morning.
Customer service on social media has become two-sided. First, it is becoming a service for customers to learn more about you. The information you post there becomes a repository for new information about what is in stock, seasonal specials and team insights.
Second, social media is a part of the customer interaction process. Here they are familiar with sharing content they enjoy and feel good about promoting. Reacting to content is different across platforms, but likes can take your content a long way.
Customer interaction though comments can be positive, neutral or negative, and you need to have a process to react to each.
When customers have an issue, they might directly reach out to the brand on a variety of platforms from Twitter to Facebook.
One customer tagged Morton’s Steakhouse in a tweet.
And three hours later the free steak was delivered! Talk about delighting the customer.
5. Self-Service: The Ultimate Convenience
You will have some customers who don’t want to do much interaction as they attempt to search for information or problem solve. This is where the self-service portal comes in.
Many websites have a FAQ page or even have guides and blogs that offer a step by step process to fixing the simple things. You will have a group of customers who prefer to handle things this way. Making something easy to find and simple to follow is what is going to keep these customers coming back.
Always be on the lookout for new and creative ways to provide your customers with the best and fastest customer service available.
6. Reviews: Listen to What Your Customers are Saying
Finally, reviews are the main playing field for customer service. It’s where many companies may fail if they find themselves arguing with clients who had a bad experience.
Reviews are also a place where your team can learn what they’re doing right and where they need improvement. Responding to reviews requires finesse. It involves equal parts thanking people for feedback and providing resolutions when a customer has less than ideal circumstances.
Reviews play a massive role in the success of your SEO, and they will affect prospective customers perceptions of your brand.
Customer service whether it is a phone call or responding to a review will impact your bottom line. At the end of the day, clients want businesses that care about them whether it is delivering a steak to an airport or simply thanking them for their time spent on reviews.
In fact, a small study at Hubspot Research found that companies who prioritize customer service were also the ones experiencing the most revenue growth, and it makes sense right?
It’s nice to know a company cares enough to fix a watch for free when one of their customers was involved in an accident. Customers see those types of actions and think “wow, I want to buy from them because if I have a problem, they will treat me well.”
Customer service and inbound marketing go hand-in-hand, which is why we’ve created a free trial campaign so that you can test drive our reputation management services.