In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, many businesses rack their brains to come up with new ideas on how to provide great customer service. Customers are increasingly empowered and demanding, and companies need to keep up with the constantly-changing landscape just to stay relevant.
By the time a customer has contacted you about a problem, they’ve probably already tried to fix it themselves through online research and self-service options. This means that by the time they reach out and contact you, they’re not calling for an answer that requires a quick fix.
As a result, being a customer rep is even more challenging, as they have to deal with increasingly complex and difficult-to-solve problems. After all, if it were that simple, your customer would have already found the answer.
1. Let individual customer needs determine the experience
According to a 2017 Harvard study, customers were happiest when agents took into account their individual personalities and the context of their issue to build rapport and deliver quick, easy, effective solutions.
After spending hours trying to solve problems on their own, most customers didn’t want hand-holding, they wanted results. They were happiest when agents provided guidance and expertise to lead them to the best solution, instead of spending time asking what they wanted to do.
Ideally, the agent would already know what to do with minimal effort from the customer.
In learning how to provide great customer service in today’s customer care environment, agents need to know their customers on a deeper level and approach each interaction in a fresh and spontaneous way.
2. Get customer feedback through multiple channels
Talk to your customers to find out what they really want, not just in formal surveys, but in any way you can think of. The president of Superquinn, an Irish grocery store, makes a practice of walking through each of his stores every month, talking to customers. With this kind of hands-on practice, you get a feeling for what’s happening in your customer base in real time, while building relationships and improving your reputation.
3. Use technology as a tool to enhance the customer experience
Technology is a fantastic tool, but don’t try to fit the customer around the technology − the focus should always be on delivering excellent customer service regardless the fit. Here are some technological helpers that support agents in doing the best job possible:
- A CRM that maintains a database of all your customer’s history and information where everyone can access it.
- Marketing tools let you carry out your campaigns with ease.
- Customer satisfaction software makes it simple to set up online surveys and solicit feedback from customers.
- Web analytics and tracking software let you see your customer engagement metrics at a glance.
These tools are just a few examples that can be used to segment your customer base according to their interests and needs, so you can deliver the best personalized service.
4. Make the most of social media
Most companies have social media accounts, but may think of them solely as methods for customers to get in touch with the brand. This limited viewpoint doesn’t see all the ways social media can help provide a great customer experience.
When a customer follows you on social media, follow them back. Then you can easily see what your customers are talking about and what their interests are.
If you respond to all comments about your brand, positive and negative, your customers will appreciate your responsiveness and see that you care.
You’ll also gather honest, unfiltered customer feedback by just keeping your eyes open.
5. Create experiences with real people not ‘brands’ or ‘companies’
Customers don’t want to deal with some faceless corporate drone, they want a real live person. Do everything you can to personalize customer interactions.
Of course, you should start by always addressing customers by name. Send emails from a personal account, not “CustomerService@corporateheadquarters.com”. Using your picture instead of the brand logo as a social media avatar and in-email signatures can do a lot to deliver the human touch. You can even offer the option of video calls for more personalized service.
Even if you’re sending out mass emails or surveys, personalize the ones going out to your most important customers. You can follow up on their most recent interaction, or ask about personal interests (if you know about them). Show them you know how to provide great customer service.
6. Act with urgency
The agent that responds the quickest wins the customer service race. Reply as fast as you can – in a few hours if possible.
Even if it’s just to say you received the message and are working on the problem, customers know that you’re paying attention.
Don’t leave them hanging, wondering if you even received their message. Show that the issue is as important to you as it is to the customer.
7. Surprise and delight your customers whenever possible
An unexpected treat works wonders in making your customers feel special and valued. Kyle Gawley, of Get Invited, still talks about the time he Tweeted his staff’s desire for donuts, and how thrilled they all were when, 20 minutes later, donuts were delivered courtesy of their web hosting company.
Gestures like this, even if they don’t scale, shock and awe your customers (and everyone watching on social media) in a good way. You need to know your customers – who they are, their wants and needs – to use this tactic effectively. If a good customer wants a special feature, try to give it to them.
You won’t be able to do it every time, but these simple actions can create loyal customers and brand advocates who’ll more than repay the time it took to provide their specially-tailored service.
Create a culture of empowerment
An agent should be able to own a customer issue from start to finish, without having to hand it off to someone else. Customers hate having to wait even longer, or worse, explain their issue all over again.
Staff can collaborate with each other to find solutions. For instance, set up an online forum where agents can discuss the best ways to solve customer issues and make suggestions on how to improve the customer experience.
By taking the time to break out of the same day-to-day tasks and remember that we are people that want to deal with people, your customer service staff can go above and beyond.