As a small business owner, it is important that you take steps to make sure your company stands out from the competition. While pricing and product offerings are important, these may be similar to your competitors, making it hard for you to show customers what makes you different from other companies. However, a simple way to set yourself apart from the competition and grow a base of loyal customers is to improve your customer service.
The fact is that customers will remember the direct interactions they have with your company, and creating a genuine, engaging customer service experience can go a long way in helping your company earn customer loyalty. Yet, while many small business owners are aware of the importance of attentive customer service, they often struggle when it comes to implementing a memorable customer service experience.
In order to create an environment that will earn you repeat customers, you need to focus on creating a quality customer service experience that will keep people coming back. To help get you started, keep reading as we take a look at seven ways to win at customer service.
#1: Switch from Reactive to Proactive Customer Service
One of the best ways to enhance the customer experience is to switch from a reactive to a proactive customer service model. Anticipate what customers might need help with before they even ask, as this can not only save time and money, but it can also improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Be proactive by researching your target demographic and determining what their needs may be. This will allow you to be prepared to offer solutions that meet the current problems they are facing, helping you earn loyal customers. For instance, you could use customer data from previous purchases to determine when a customer may need to place a new order, and then send out relevant marketing materials and purchase reminders, increasing the likelihood of a sale.
You can also integrate proactive customer service by being aware of issues with your products and providing solutions before the customer encounters any problems. For instance, if you have discovered that one of your products is faulty, proactively sending a free replacement to customers can show your dedication to customer service, significantly increasing customer satisfaction.
#2: Get Feedback (and Follow Up on It)
Another way to offer proactive customer service is by actively seeking out feedback from your customers. The fact is that no news is not always good news—a dissatisfied customer may simply not want to confront you directly if they have a problem with your product or service. A great way to improve your customer service is to solicit feedback from customers (for example, in the form of a post-purchase email) to find out where your company could use some improvement.
However, it is not enough to merely solicit feedback. You also need to take steps to act on this feedback so that you can improve your customer service experience, increasing the likelihood that you will gain repeat customers.
When you receive feedback from customers, review current policies to see where you can make improvements. It is also critical that you follow up with the customer and not only offer a solution to the problem they encountered, but also take accountability for where you went wrong. This will show that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions, which can help you to gain your customers’ trust.
When customer service automation tools such as chatbots and virtual assistants first came out, many companies and customers were skeptical about how useful these tools would be. However, technology has come a long way in making them an extremely effective way to communicate information to customers and help them solve basic problems. Indeed, customers have shown a surprising willingness to adopt the technology, largely due to the benefits they’ve found. Many consumers now prefer working with automated agents when seeking help with basic tasks, as they see these services as quicker, more efficient, and a better use of their time.
In fact, while some businesses see virtual assistants as impersonal and taking away from the customer experience, using chatbots to automate certain conversations can actually streamline and improve the customer service experience.
Without chatbots to answer common questions, limited phone lines at small businesses can become extremely busy, and customers may have a hard time reaching an actual person. This can lead to customer frustration, and customers may even decide to take their business elsewhere if they can’t get ahold of a person.
Alternatively, chatbots can provide 24/7 support, and they can be used via email, instant messaging, texting, and social media, ensuring customers have access to the help they need at a time and place that is most convenient for them.
When chatbots do not understand, or do not have an answer to, a question, the chat can then be transferred to a support agent. Thusly, while chatbots should not replace customer service agents, they can help free up the phone lines for more complex queries. This then ensures that your small business’s limited customer support staff is available when customers need help. Automation can then improve the quality and efficiency of your customer service, improving the overall experience for your customers.
#4: Personalize Whenever Possible
One of the most important things that you can do to win at customer service is to personalize the shopping experience for your customers. The fact is that consumers have grown increasingly accustomed to a personalized online experience. In particular, companies like Netflix and Amazon have set a new standard for the customer service experience by providing consumers with recommended content, products, and services.
Most consumers are not just accustomed to personalized content, they now actually expect a personalized customer service experience, with a reported 74% of customers feeling frustrated when website content is not personalized.
Additionally, a recent survey by Forester found that 71% of respondents agreed customers expect an experience that is personalized to their needs and preferences. If you want to win at customer service and attract customers to your small business, you need to keep up with the competition by offering a personalized customer service experience whenever possible.
One way to do this is to give your customers options for how they communicate with your business, such as by offering SMS and online video chat in addition to phone support. This personalizes the customer service experience by meeting customers where they are and providing them with the option to use their preferred method of communication.
You should also personalize all communication with customers—including marketing materials. Even taking the simple step of using an email personalization tool to add the recipient’s name to marketing emails can improve the customer service experience.
Try offering personalized shopping suggestions to customers based on products they have previously looked at or purchased. This can help improve conversion rates and bring back repeat customers. The fact is that consumers like being offered product suggestions, and 47% of consumers check Amazon if the brand they’re shopping doesn’t provide relevant product suggestions. The last thing that you want is for your customers to turn to a major retailer because they did not receive a personalized customer service experience from your company.
While creating a personalized customer service experience is more important than ever in order to attract customers, you should always keep privacy and customer data security in mind when personalizing the customer service experience. For any personalizing strategy, your customers want to feel that their information is safe and protected at all times. Ensure that any personalization you attempt achieves this. The first key to success in this area is transparency.
#5: Balance Personalization with Transparency
While consumers enjoy a personalized shopping experience, they also expect companies to be honest about how their data is being used. In order to ensure that you gain the trust of your customers, it is critical that you are transparent about how their data is used and that you take steps to ensure that this data is stored safely. If customers find out that you have been using their data for marketing purposes and they were unaware, this could cause them to lose trust in your company.
It is then critical that you are aware of consumer privacy laws in the jurisdictions your business serves in order to ensure that you are taking the proper precautions to protect consumer privacy.
#6: Offer Product/Service Warranties
A great way to set yourself apart from the competition and show consumers that you care about customer service is to offer warranties on your products/services. By offering a high-end warranty, consumers will see that you’re committed to providing quality customer service, making them more likely to purchase from your company than a competitor who does not offer a comprehensive warranty.
Your warranty will also show customers that you are so confident in the quality of your products/services that you are willing to guarantee them against potential defects. Consumers will then feel more confident working with your company, as they will see that you are committed to doing what it takes to care for your customers and instill trust in your brand.
#7: Take a Long-Term Approach
While providing a quality customer service experience is critical in order to ensure the success of your small business, it is important to remember that customer service is a marathon, not a sprint. The fact is that you won’t be able to suddenly change your customer service overnight. Instead, you should implement a plan using the strategies outlined above, and make key strategic changes to slowly improve your customer service experience over time. Taking a long-term approach will ensure that you have the time and resources to implement real change at your company that will set you apart from the competition.
Transform the Way You Engage Customers with The Right Communications System
In order to win at customer service, you need to take the time to create a plan that can completely transform the way that you interact with customers. The fact is that customers no longer just desire the ability to communicate with a business when and where they want to—they expect it.
By automating repetitive tasks so that you can connect with customers in an effective and authentic way, and by investing in the technology that will allow you to provide personalized services to customers when and where they want it, you can ensure that you are doing everything in your power to win at customer service.
Of course, your communication tech will play a significant role in how customers are able to communicate with you and how effective your customer service communication efforts are. If you’re struggling to implement the latest communication technology at your small business, feel free to contact us for assistance as well as to learn more about how the latest technology can transform your customer service offerings.