7 Effective Tips for Providing Excellent Customer Service
How many times have you thought about increasing your customer base?
If you own a business, you probably think about it very often. Like many other businesspeople out there, you have invested time and money in advertising your products and services in order to reach new customers. Sounds about right, you are thinking.
Although trying to attract new buyers is unquestionably a worthwhile effort, many forget that keeping old customers also makes a lot of sense.
In fact, according to a research study by Bain & Company, improving customer retention rates by only 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%! Evidently, having customers return surely pays off.
If you are asking yourself how you should turn your customers into repeat buyers, the answer is very simple: provide quality customer service.
You don’t need to blow your budget to convince your customers do to business with you again, but you do have to treat them nicely and give them a reason to return. Let’s see what you can do.
Be Friendly and Attentive
The number one rule of customer service could be summarized in one word: listen. Always listen to what your customers have to say.
While hearing them out, it is also important to come across as friendly and approachable – if you employ the human touch instead of sounding like a robot, they will simply trust you more.
Whether you are communicating face-to-face in your brick-and-mortar establishment, talking over the phone, or responding to an e-mail, remember to really pay attention to their comments.
In live encounters, smile and nod your head. Let your body language show them you are interested.
Make sure you have a pleasant voice over the phone. In written communication, do your best to convey a friendly attitude – an occasional emoticon might mellow down even the most infuriated customer.
Regardless of the communication mode, let them know that you´ve acknowledged their problem or inquiry and that you will do your best to resolve the issue.
People appreciate being heard.
Respond In A Timely Manner
Whatever happens, never make your customers wait. People don’t like feeling underappreciated, so the worst thing you can do is ignore them – this can cause much more harm than you think.
Think about it for a second. Would you wait for several weeks before finally getting a reply to that e-mail you sent to a computer company or would you seek business elsewhere? Exactly.
When customers seek help in your store, do not ignore them or make them wait while you are busy with something else.
Remember that your customer is your number one priority and that you must tend to their needs a.s.a.p. The same applies for written communication, so respond to all complaints and inquires in a timely manner.
Learn from the following example:
When a customer makes an online complaint, ignoring them is the worst thing you can do – news spread like fire on social media.
What you should do instead is leave the comment and respond to it as fast you can.
This is exactly what they did at Pottery Barn, responding to a Facebook complaint in half an hour. And not only that – they took appropriate steps to apologize and resolve the issue, which leads us to the next two points.
Apologize And Show Appreciation
Customers are bound to complain – everyone who owns a business knows that. Sometimes they will be right and it’ll be your fault, but sometimes you will have to deal with people who are just being irrational.
The latter are most likely to make you want to lash out, but try to control yourself and maintain your composure.
If you lose control and shout at your customers telling them that you are not to blame for their problems, you will only make things worse. You never know how many social media followers they have, so don’t risk getting a bad review.
Whenever customers complain – whether it’s your fault or not – make sure to apologize; that is the first step in appeasing them.
Show them that you understand how they feel and thank them for drawing your attention to the issue. Take another look at the above Pottery Barn example – that’s the way to go.
Not only did they respond fast, but they also apologized for the inconvenience, showed empathy, and quickly proceeded to resolve the issue.
You should do the same. No matter how angry your customer is, when you take the blame and empathize with their situation, you are scoring some valuable customer service points.
A proper apology and a little empathy go a long way, so never forget that.
Resolve The Issue
You can be the nicest person in the world, full of empathy and willing to listen to your customers, but all that will go down the drain unless you actually provide adequate information or resolve the issue at hand.
So, after becoming aware of the problem and apologizing for it, make sure to take action in order to resolve the issue that is bothering your customer.
This is exactly what the AirAsia team did when one of their customers reported a problem publicly on Facebook:
As you can see from the customer’s subsequent comment, the issue was successfully resolved and the customer was satisfied.
When it comes to giving excellent customer service, remember to leave no question unanswered and no issue unresolved.
If that means bending over backwards to find appropriate solution – do it. Your customer will be satisfied and you will gain a loyal buyer.
Moreover, you can reap great benefits if the conversation between you and a customer takes place on social media.
If your customer doesn’t notify you about the problem resolution like in the AirAsia example, be fast and notify them yourself.
Not only will your customer be happy, but all the other followers will see how much you care about sorting out your customers’ problems.
Follow Up And Ask For Feedback
Resolving a problem doesn’t mean that the communication should stop. Quite the contrary, your customers will appreciate it if you keep your conversation alive.
So follow up! Reach out to the customer – whether by phone, email, or social media – and ask them if everything is still OK or if they have had some other issues.
They will be honored that you care about their well-being, and your proactive behavior will certainly increase the chances of them becoming repeat buyers.
To further enhance your actions, ask them for feedback – everyone likes to feel that their opinion matters.
Do this not only to assess the level of your customer service, but also to see what your customers think about your products or services.
You will thus make your customers appreciative and get valuable information that can serve you to improve your offer. This is quite a win-win situation if you ask us.
Now, let’s get personal. Customer service is all about quality, but it’s also about the human touch.
People love it when you communicate with them as you would with a friend, so regard your customers as your peers and invest effort to get to know them.
If it’s possible, try to address them by their name on every possible occasion – it will make your service personalized instead of automated.
Consider making a database with your customers’ personal information which you can then put to good use.
For example, you can send your customers birthday cards and surprise them with a small gift like a discount coupon. They will love it.
You can also show interest in your customers by talking to them without any hidden agenda – just imagine that a person you are communicating with is your friend and communicate accordingly.
Observe the following example:
The staff at Seamless surely knows how to show appreciation and concern for their customers.
This brand that is known for its excellent customer service is very active on social media and tries to respond to every comment.
They address their customers by their name, wish them to get well when they are sick, give out compliments, and much much more. Surely, they have no problem when it comes to retaining their customers.
Go The Extra Mile
Providing good customer service means meeting certain criteria of quality, but in order to make it outstanding and special, you should sometimes go the extra mile and exceed your customers’ expectations.
When you not only satisfy but also surprise them, you are adding new people to the base of your loyal customers.
There are many different things you can do. Give your customers unexpected discounts and gifts. Organize contests and giveaways – people love excitement and free stuff.
When your customers complain, go a step further than just resolving the problem – compensate for the inconvenience. Offer something valuable and you will win a loyal customer for life.
What you can also do is take their opinions and comments into account. When they make a suggestion, try to acknowledge it and even use it to enhance your offer.
The staff at Oreo surely know how to make their clients feel special by considering their suggestions:
There is a reason why Oreo is such a popular brand, and it’s not only because they have fantastic cookies – it is also because they always show their customers how much they care about their opinions.
It is certainly something worth considering.
When you offer fantastic products and services, people recognize the quality and make purchases from you.
However, no matter how stellar your offer is, you will not gain loyal customers unless you provide outstanding customer service.
Nobody will return to that shop where the salesperson shouted at them or buy from a company whose staff never responded to their e-mail.
In order to make your customer service shine, you need to be a customer-oriented company. This implies always listening to your customers, responding promptly, and resolving their issues.
It also means being respectful and treating them as friends, so never forget to employ the human touch.
Moreover, if you try to get to know your customers and occasionally exceed their expectations, they will be happy and reward you with their loyalty.
All in all, if you want to see repeat buyers, start implementing these seven tips today. Your customers will return, and your business will grow.