One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the lack of basic customer service smarts in many companies. It seems such a dumb game to be playing, as well.
For example, if a company’s customer service is poor, that’s more than likely going to mean a very big uphill struggle ahead in terms of brand acceptance. But, if customers have a positive view of your business, it’s an extra piece of firepower that can be used in getting the news out about a new product or service.
This is particularly true with social media and online networks. With the amount of blogs, micro-blogs and forums that can spread bad news like wildfire, examples of poor customer service will come back and hit you hard – and fast. This is equally the same for positive news about you.
So how do you make sure your customer service stands up to closer inspection? Simple – you use a LIST.
The key to any great customer service is knowing what your customers are thinking and offering solutions where needed. You may have the greatest product in the world, but what if it’s only beneficial for right-handed people, for example? That means there’s a whole section of your customer base you’re not satisfying.
When you hear about problems, look at ways to resolving them. If it’s cost-effective, offer slight variations on a theme so you’re at least offering alternatives to those that may not benefit from your original product. It’s true that you won’t be able to please everybody all of the time, but pleasing the majority is a great second place.
Do you have a way for your customers to interact with you? Is there a contact form on your website? A suggestion link on your company newsletter? If not, how will you possibly know what your customers are thinking?
Involving and interacting with your customers is key to knowing what they want. Without this, you might be missing out on a potential goldmine of information that could help you decide on your next course of action. Always remember your customers are who pay your bills – knowing what they want is knowing how to succeed.
Great customer service means great customer satisfaction. This in turn leads to customer loyalty – important at the best of times but crucial in today’s business climate. If one of your customers has a problem, how you deal with it will define how you are perceived.
Don’t be pig-headed and ignore a customer’s grievance or point of view, even if they are in the wrong. Instead, be open and professional, and offer empathy for their situation.
Coming to a mutual agreement is obviously the best result, but if this isn’t going to happen, offer a reasoned argument to your customer on why they are incorrect on this occasion. Additionally, work towards a solution on how best to avoid the same problem in the future.
Part of the above approaches is that you’re gathering actionable data. You’re finding out things about your customers that you may have otherwise missed, or seen but not recognized.
So use that information.
Take the knowledge you now have and see where else it can be transferred around your business. Does sales need information about the right description of a product? Does marketing need to adjust their terminology? Does legal need to put disclaimers on your products?
All this information you can get from your customers – so make it easy for them to give it to you.
There will always be instances when your customer’s expectations aren’t met. This is a simple fact of business and one that can’t be avoided. How you deal with it, however, is how you will be judged – make sure your response is the right one.