How to Immediately Improve Your Customer Service
A loss of consumer confidence can permanently derail your business growth plans. Consider these statistics about how to convert the effects of unhappy customers into losses in terms of actual dollar values as well as the prominent role customer service now plays in business today.
- 91% of unhappy customers do not complain. They quietly leave and never return.
- The number one cause of churn is not price but bad customer service.
- On average it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one bad one.
- Acquiring new customers costs 7 times more than repeat business from existing customers.
- Improving customer retention numbers by as little as 2% works out to be the equivalent of increasing revenues by approximately 10%.
- Every complaint represents about 26 customers who were unhappy but said nothing.
- 71% of businesses have identified “customer experience” as the next upcoming battleground.
- 80% of companies intend to use “customer experience” as their central point of differentiation.
The good news is that improving customer service can be as easy as following these 8 quick fixes. Whether you have a situation on your hands that needs fixing, or just want to improve how your customer service reps handle their calls, this blog post is a great place to start. The following will send you down the path of customer service excellence:
Fix 1: Make your listening more active
The first step to providing excellent customer service is to pay attention to what the customer is saying. Really pay attention. To accomplish this, consider the following:
- Stop multitasking. Close browsers, stop inputting data and focus on what the customer is saying.
- When the customer is hitting their main point, write down what they are saying as they say it. It’s too easy to miss an important fact. When customer service representatives are actively taking notes, customers know they are being taken seriously.
- “What?” is something that nobody wants to hear. Try “Can you tell me more about that?” instead.
In the end, however, remember that what you say is not as important as how you say it. If every call is approached like a puzzle instead of a complaint, it is easier to handle the call and the customer will be more satisfied as they are an active part of the solution.
Fix 2: Bring in sales to write copy
Your sales teams know how to describe what you sell in a way that is accurate and appealing. Have them provide your customer service agents with scripts about the products and services. These will certainly come up in conversation and you don’t want your agents to come up with a description on the fly which could cause bigger problems down the road.
Fix 3: Run a seminar on responding vs. arguing
The customer isn’t always right, but telling them they are wrong is a good way to make an enemy for life. What agents need to learn is how to correct the customer’s misconceptions without giving the impression that they are being laughed at.
Fix 4: Understand how phone conversations are unique
It is unnatural to tell your personal problems to a stranger that you can’t see. The vast majority of people won’t do it at all or will hang up before the problem is solved. Helping callers over the awkwardness of the situation goes a long way to crafting the customer experience.
Fix 5: Develop the rapport before collecting the facts
This builds on the last point. People need to be convinced that a there is not a robot on the other end of the line. Spend some time asking how their day is going, telling a quick joke or talking about a current event. The key is make sure you are genuinely interested in their answer and follow up accordingly.
Fix 6: Remain in control of the call
Controlling the call is the key to keeping it from going on too long or digressing into unrelated issues. Even though time is money, if too much emphasis is placed on the duration of the call instead of solutions, then the focus will drift away from the customer.
Fix 7: Run continuous trainings on etiquette
It is easy for agents to lose sight of polite rules of phone calls after fielding hundreds of calls. Conducting ongoing trainings on call center etiquette will allow agents to refine their skills over time and decrease employee burnout.
Fix 8: Understand how customer service is like sales
Considering how similar sales and customer service processes are in terms of moving from resistance to interest to objections to actions can actually improve service quality. In sales, you are looking for a purchase agreement. In customer service, you are really looking for a positive referral. In communicating with your customer service agents, make sure to keep the emphasis on the customer’s value to the company. When you fix their problems, you are not doing them a favor, you are creating long term brand awareness and hopefully, a brand ambassador.
You might also want to think about using customer analytics to improve your ongoing marketing efforts. For instance, by listening to common feedback from your customers, you can start to gather data that can then be used to enhance your products and services. Quite often, the best people to ask for marketing insights are your own customers, so do not underestimate the power of your customer service team.
The next generation of businesses will be able to survive whatever technological changes have in store by staying relevant in the lives of their customers. For current customer satisfaction winners like Amazon and Apple, reputation translates directly into higher premiums that their brands can charge. By providing amazing customer service, you can let your customers take over the job of promoting your brand for you on social media so you can put those advertising dollars back into your pocket.