Ever notice how some businesses just “have it” when it comes to customer service? They somehow nail it and have epic testimonials. Think Zappos. How do they do it? It’s amazing.
Well, many small and large businesses are finally catching on and returning to the tried and true “service with a smile” and “the customer is always right” attitude. It pays.
Use Customer Service As a Strategic Asset
A company like NextdayLenses has to use customer service as a strategic asset. They have to – their business model depends on it. Why? Because they sell a commodity product. If you’re in a commodity industry, or a service industry, you have to be a customer service-oriented company.
Most CEOs of large companies view customer service as a cost centre rather than an asset that can drive new business. They look at it as something for PR – it looks good to have a customer service department. In reality, your customer service department prevents loss and encourages customers to buy more. How is that not an asset?
Personalise The Experience
No one likes a cookie-cutter approach being used on them. Everyone likes to believe they are the most important customer that has walked in the door. Your job is to make them feel that way, even when they’re clearly not the only customer. Use existing customer data to interact with each customer. Take the time to actually listen to, and engage with, your customers. They’ll tell you what their problems are and how you can solve them. All you have to do is listen.
Differentiate Your Touch-Points
Every company needs a way to differentiate themselves. Most customer service departments simply say “thank you for calling” and then hand up the phone at the end of the service call. What about sending out a “thank you” note to the customer? What about expedited hold times?
Some companies, like the Vitamix Corporation, have a history of underpromising and overdelivering. That’s a good model to follow.
Hire The Right People
This is probably the most important thing you can do. It’s so common for companies to hire people “off the street” and train them to be customer service reps. And while you can train someone to be good at this job, it take time. It’s not automatic. Most people have really poor communication skills.
An employee who is always looking out for themselves and willing to benefit at the expense of other employees is probably not going to make a great customer service rep. Employees who always “pass the buck” are also not a good choice. What you’re looking for are historical examples, and a consistent behaviour, that shows a person’s ability to empathise and solve problems – an employee who puts problem solving above emotional responses to irate customers or frustrating situations.
Sometimes, it’s not the customer’s fault. It’s the company’s. Your employee has to be able to admit that without making the company look irresponsible or negligent.
Simon Walters is passionate about the customer experience. He often writes about the strategies and effects of positive customer experiences on business success.