Brands often think their products or services are so good they sell themselves. For a lot of businesses, however, the harsh reality is that if they are unable to deliver a remarkable experience during the time of interaction with the customer, they face the very real danger of their brand becoming less valuable when measured against their competitors. Brand reputation is one of the greatest assets one has in any business. Here are 5 quick checks and adjustments for improving customer service that you can do right now.
The first order of business is to make sure that you are in touch with what’s really happening with your brand. Start with the customer. Talk and interact with them, whether through face-to-face conversations, over the phone, the web, or through other feedback mechanisms. Ask them how they feel about your brand and be open to any comments or suggestions. Not only will you get first-hand information, you’ll also show that you want to continuously improve your brand FOR them.
Next up is to connect with your employees. Have an honest conversation with them about how things are going with the brand and your customers. Are there any problems? What are the usual troubles they encounter in their everyday tasks? Be sure to be open and make them feel safe to give their opinions. You’ll discover that they are a valuable source of information and, at times, suggestions for business opportunities. Take this opportunity as well to ask some of them individually on what CUSTOMER SERVICE is. Cross check their definitions with how your business defines it. You’ll be able to see whether or not everyone is aligned.
Afterwards, take time to observe (your store, website, or listen to recorded hotline calls). Note points of inconvenience and/or difficulty for the customer. Take notice of difficulties encountered by your staff. Take everything in but only as a silent observer.
TEACH THE VALUE OF IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE
Once you’ve taken the overall temperature of your business in terms of customer service, you need to set a “customer service standard” in your company. Set it up, define it, and drill it down to specifics. Once done, you need to communicate this to your employees in a way that won’t just be dismissed. Enforce your standards but make sure you are also able to clearly explain its value to your staff. Also ensure that the standard you set isn’t just communicated and required for a short time; it must be indoctrinated, monitored, and upheld in a sustained and consistent fashion.
SET CUSTOMER SERVICE GOALS
Monitor to verify that your customer experience is indeed improving. Set metrics that will be able to reflect these improvements. Identify what these metrics are for your business (i.e. more positive comments from feedback card, increased return rate of certain customers, return frequency of customers) and then set them as goals for your employees. Incentivize the behavior by giving rewards every time a goal is met or surpassed.
Some businesses view every customer as nothing more than additional revenue. This becomes subtly communicated to the staff and since the focus is invariably not on the customer experience, it translates into a missing focus on customer service. If left unchecked, employees who have such mindset will have difficulty stepping up in terms of creating a delightful customer experience. Always remember that a mutually beneficial relationship can always be formed. By treating them well, you earn the money that they give to you.
Find out your customers’ names, birthdays, and other information. Not only will you be able to further your relationship with them using the information, but you will also be able to maintain contact with them and give them information about promotions and the like.
GIVE VALUE TO LOYALTY
Lastly, always remember that almost everyone loves the VIP treatment. So why not give them to your most loyal customers? Give them special deals and/or privileges that are guaranteed to make them feel special. Remember that these are people who already give you constant business. The last thing you want is for them to feel not taken care off and jump ship to the next brand.
These five steps should definitely set you on the right track for improving customer service. Companies wishing to get an in-depth analysis of their customers’ experience along with actionable recommendations, or have difficulty doing a self-assessment might consider hiring a customer experience measurement company to assist them.