• 20 Ways to Better Manage Customer Service Right Now

    Wed, 10 Apr 2019, in Customer Service

    customer service management

    If there’s anything you can single out that really can determine how well you do, then it’s customer service. We spend countless hours agonizing over product development, trying to outdo our rivals and watching out for new entrants. So why don’t we revisit our customer service just as often?

    Isn’t it a bit excessive? You may ask. Perhaps – but with competition for market share (and new customers) being hotter than ever, there’s always room for implementing new ways to keep your customers sticking around – and new ones coming in.

    Over the past years, marketing and business research firms have been predicting that customer service as a differentiation point will outshine all other product variables such as price or brand. This line of thinking continues unabated, so no one’s questioning whether it’s worth to invest in customer service – the only question is how much.

    We’ve prepared 20 easy-to-implement ways you can make your customer service a bit better than the other guy.

    structure

    Structure

    Read More: 15 Secrets of Leading Customer Service Departments

    1. Have a customer service policy

    Once you process enough customer requests, you get a feel of what works and what doesn’t. Even a simple list of best practices and a policy of do’s and don’ts does wonders. Not only establishes a company culture on paper, but lets your employees know what’s expected of them and stay accountable.

    A big part of this means being obsessed with customer service excellence, establishing a customer-first culture and holding regular meetings, going over reports and encouraging communication to improve all aspects of support.

    2. Be customer-first, company-wide

    What does being customer-first mean anyway? It means that customer service is given so much weight and importance in your operations that it receives substantial resources and investments to develop the customer service process.

    Everyone in the organization must be engaged in customer service and have a say in it – this is the only way to build up a culture that will permeate every aspect of your organization.

    3. Be willing to go the extra mile

    Having a support policy is great, but only insofar as to set a general direction, expectations and the bare minimum that you’d like everyone to contribute to keep your support machine running smoothly.

    However, an organization should give every employee enough autonomy to raise concerns or give feedback about every support experience. There should be a high a degree of individual autonomy for support employees, allowing them to react as they see fit in non-standard situations.

    4. Measure your support trends

    If you’re not measuring your customer service, how can you figure out where to improve? Ensure you know what’s happening behind the scenes in your help desk, and host regular meetings to go over general trends in request volumes and customer satisfaction.

    Take the opportunity to note who’s doing what and give kudos where necessary. See if you can improve or change your responses, your response times, or service level standards.

    5. Treat customer service as a philosophy

    Great companies are always learning, and putting what they learn to use. And to do that, recording answers, solutions and documenting unique customer service experiences to improve future situations might be important.

    Lastly, have that information available to the right group of people within the organization. Keep an open dialogue and encourage cross-department feedback from across the organization.

    culture

    Culture

    Read More: How to Inspire Employees to Care About Customer Service

    6. Make everyone part of customer service

    There’s no better way to set your policy in motion than getting everyone in your company involved in customer service, from the CEO to the accountant. It may sound like a resource drainer, but doing this gives you a much better understanding of your customers and employees at the same time.

    This can help rile up various departments and individuals under one goal. It also gives you a balanced, diverse pool to collect feedback about customer service experiences, and ultimately pinpoint areas to improve upon.

    7. Make it easy for the customer

    Customers are a company’s most important asset, so approaching every customer interaction as if it’s your last – is seriously a must. However, this is easier said than done since this level of convenience takes a lot of coordination and resources to set up behind the scenes.

    This means having multiple support options, easily accessible support channels on their website. For example, telephone, chat, a FAQ site, web portal, API or other ways of contacting you. Establish support profiles to allow you to better interact with your user base.

    8. Know all about your customers

    Great service means going above and beyond, sometimes going into the customer’s account and performing functions for them. You can also use customer data to solve a problem before it escalates into something bigger. In order to do all that, you must know as much as possible about the customer you’re talking to.

    This means knowing their contact details, personal details, past interactions, order history and more. You may also want to pull in additional information about your customers from a CRM system or introduce an internal customer database right into your help desk software.

    9. Identify and engage with devoted customers

    Smart companies look at who their best customer advocates are – and these are the types of people that are happy to offer their time and insights in the first place. Build relationships with them, as they are literally a cradle of high quality, actionable feedback .

    Feedback from devoted customers can uncover the problems they face, how they use your product, the features they’d appreciate most. Use this to shape buyer personas and ideas on how you can better market to them.

    10. Throw in surprises and bonuses

    Everyone loves surprises, it’s part of human nature. Customers that get taken aback (in a good way) by a surprise gift or discount will likely remember the company down the road. Keep a spreadsheet of who’s receiving what and update when necessary.

    Part of this could be learning and optimizing effective follow-up strategies. This could mean reaching out to old clients for follow-up calls or business development calls for discussing business life, or for giving out advice.

    words and actions

    Words and actions

    Read More: Top 10 Things not to Say to Angry Customers

    11. Be eager to help

    If asked what they want and need, people are eager to share what’s on their mind. Sometimes all they need a green light, or simply an indication that someone is listening – without any guesswork or judgment.

    Be inquisitive during every support interaction. Encourage support staff to ask “how can I help?” and listening. By doing so, you are leaving the conversation on a positive not and open-ended. You are not trying to push anything, sell anything – only seeing what the customer is trying to get done.

    12. Respect the customer’s time

    If a customer is the business’s greatest asset, time is the customer’s greatest asset. If a support rep promises something will be done by Friday 2 pm, then anything else is not acceptable to the customer. They don’t expect it “earlier than” or “around” 2 pm, but exactly at 2 pm.

    This also means refraining from transfering customers around to different support staff or departments. In large companies and with specialized requests, this could be unavoidable, but these effects should still be minimized.

    13. Take responsibility, and let it be known

    You’ll never hear a great customer service employee say something like “that’s not my job”. A great support rep takes responsibility and lets the customer know about it every step of the way.

    More than being a reassuring gesture, customers want to know they are being helped. While customer service can’t always deliver solutions, it should at least deliver on empathy, promises and clear, concise communication – that is a must.

    14. Peraonalize, personalize, personalzie!

    Regardless of your support medium (voice, email or chat), unless you’re talking to customers in person, there is always a risk of coming across as impersonal. Running a remote business? Jump on a call, a webinar, a screen sharing demo – something that will quickly ease up any misconceptions and misunderstandings.

    Keep customer information handy during every interaction, and make sure to make notes (Helprace has editable internal notes and sidebar notes to help out with this – not to mention Sidebar Apps that pull in external information about your customers).

    15. Show appreciation wherever possible

    Thank the customer when they contact you, for their time when they complain to you, and for their business as a whole. A customer that’s “on-the-fence” can be easily reinvested in your services

    Learning how to spot strategic opportunities for thanks, doing so in the most effective manner, designing the right loyalty programs – all this can have tremendous ROI. There’s positive word of mouth, repeat business, and generally warm feelings you get from making your customers fall in love with you all over again.

    difficult situations

    Difficult situations

    Read More: How to Handle 7 Most Difficult Customer Service Situations

    16. See things from the customer’s perspective

    Put away the fine print and policies, if only for a second – listen to the customer’s story. The ability to step into a customer’s shoes and see the situation from another perspective allows companies to provide a tailored, relevant answer regardless of the situation.

    Knowing how and when to say the right thing after listening is important – for example, empathizing with a customer’s anxiety about an event tomorrow may require you to do some fancy footwork to ensure they get their order before the end of the day.

    17. Take every chance to inform

    Smart businesses make sure they reach out to inform the customer, every single time, no matter how small the reason. It serves two things: the first is that it leaves the door open to conversation. The second is the customer aren’t hit with surprises (and likely, even more stress!)

    Even if you think there’s a substitute that’s exactly what your client wants, avoid making such “executive decisions” without first checking in with the customer beforehand.

    18. Know how to reassure when needed

    When a customer is unhappy about something, more often than not they just want answers. Using positive language while stating facts (eg. exact time, date, and what you’re doing) is key. This (likely) diffuses the situation and shows that you’re actively working on resolving their issue.

    One of the most valuable skills a customer support representative can possess is the ability to think on their feet. This means being able to calm down angry customers without losing their trust or your credibility.

    19. Turn every “no” into a solution

    We created a popular post about saying no the right way, but what’s more difficult is turning a “no” into a “yes”. This requires a particular level of skill and expertise honed over time.

    This comes with proper customer service training, employee exercises where they’re presented with sample situations, wanting a certain feature, a refund or some sort of perk. A proper response will include a clear explanation, appeasement and reassurance, all craftily presented.

    20. Reach out to unsatisfied customers

    Practice reaching to to customers unhappy with you (or those you left on a bad note with). You may think that this is a huge waste of time (and a difficult proposition altogether), but you might be surprised. In fact, sometimes an unhappy customer just needs an listening ear or to know that their voice matters.

    Who knows, maybe you can save the relationship. And even if you don’t, it can give you even more insights into their situation: how and why they could be a poor target audience or uncover valuable feedback you could use to improve your business.

    Customers look for signs a business cares about them

    One of the most important things you can do with your customer service is to make it visible. On your website, in your documentation. Share customer stories, positive reviews, experiences. Embrace customer feedback in your content strategy. Similarly, make customer service a priority in you company. Make it visible to your staff by treating them right – make them feel valued, important and part of something great.

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