In business, there are many methods and strategies for attracting new and retaining existing customers. One of these is customer service. In this article we will talk about what it is, what it is based on and how to use it.
What is customer service?
Customer service is a strategy on the basis of which relations with the customer are built at each stage of the purchase. It exists in any company that works with people, while it is based on a culture of communication and attentive attitude on the part of employees.
It is about maintaining human relations with customers, and about finding contact points at each stage of their life cycle. It all depends on the specific business and its tasks.
Why is it needed?
The main goal is to leave a good impression after the interaction. After all, the less time a person spends on solving his questions, the higher the probability that he will return for a repeat purchase later or recommend the company to his friends, relatives and colleagues.
Ideally, customer service helps retain former customers, increase sales, especially repeat sales, and increase the company’s net profit. And with the right approach, the strategy will allow you to increase the average check and increase the amount of the minimum order. In financial terms, it is beneficial for the company, because it will not have to spend additional money to attract new one-time sales.
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Basic rules of customer service
There are no universal rules for organizing customer service. Each company develops them taking into account the needs and requests of customers. But you can find a few basic rules that most people follow:
- The customer is always right. This phrase sounds almost everywhere, it was coined by Harry Selfridge in 1909, when he founded the London department store of the same name. However, sometimes its importance is inflated to unprecedented proportions, leading to the indulgence of ridiculous and inadequate requests. In fact, the essence of the rule boils down to the company’s willingness to communicate with customers and fulfill their wishes as much as possible. And it also implies a loyal attitude of employees to customers and an individual approach. And that’s all!
By the way, you don’t have to blindly follow this rule.
- The importance of feedback. In principle, people already have the ability to send feedback. This is an indicator that the company is ready to work on mistakes and take into account the opinion of buyers. Presence should be maximal, be it online chat, social networks, messengers, phone, email and much more. Some even practice round-the-clock response, which is also pleasant for the audience.
- Quick response to requests. People don’t want to wait for a long time for an answer, I speak from my experience of communicating with Yandex support 🙂 Clients mostly expect that they will be answered in the first 10 minutes after contacting them. Then they either try to reach out in other ways, or lose interest and start to have a negative attitude. Here, too, you should not make an elephant out of a fly, trying to react in a matter of seconds, but it is still desirable to respond quickly.
- Convenient site. For the visitor, it should be not only beautiful, but also useful. In principle, people like it when the page loads in no more than 5 seconds, all the necessary sections are in a prominent place, and the information does not have to be searched for a long time. In fact, not everything is perfect, you try to reduce the problems and bring the level of convenience to a more acceptable level.
- Reacting to negativity. This is useful not only for customers who have encountered a problem, but also for the company itself. In this way, you can reduce reputational risks, increase loyalty, and, in principle, show the audience a willingness to work on the service.
- Fast delivery. If you are selling, make sure that the goods are delivered as they should be. First of all, follow the deadlines, and then you can work on the delivery point, for example, to the nearest post office or pickup point.
- Processing a return. If someone really doesn’t like your products or services, provide the option for compensation or a refund. It is better for you if the customer who is leaving will have a pleasant experience from the communication, even if the products or services do not meet his expectations.
- Loyalty programs. This thing does not so much give bonuses to customers as it allows the company to smooth out some rough corners. For example, not quite fast delivery or lack of it, poor service or something else. But remember, this “pill” helps only for a certain period, then you will have to fix the problems.
These are, in my opinion, the most elementary examples that are often found. You can adjust the customer service rules based on the specifics of your business. This includes reducing the waiting time, implementing profitable offers or incentive systems when returning to you, changing the service according to the wishes of customers, and much more.
First, I will note the most banal mistakes, such as unwillingness to listen to customers. As a result, we see detached or neutral communication with a person, and this situation will not improve. If you are engaged in customer service, you need to communicate, find out detailed information and try to really solve the situation. As for other common problems, the following should be noted here:
- The desire to save. If you decide to engage in service, you will have to invest a lot. And in terms of money, time, and employees. It is also worth spending on technology and maintenance, as well as the purchase of specialized services and their individual configuration. Eventually, all this will pay off with the attention of the audience and the desire to buy the product from you.
- Lack of employee training. It is not enough to use pre-written scripts, here the employee must also be interested in solving the problem with minimal losses. And therefore, it will probably be necessary to organize a separate training to improve the level of knowledge in the field of customer service. Instead, it will be much more pleasant for the buyer to communicate with the employees, and he will not want to leave.
- Using “universal” scripts and a one-size-fits-all approach. Standard wording and answers may be easier for the company, but they will not bring the customer to you. If you want him to continue to buy from you, try to find an individual approach, keep the context and, perhaps, use personal appeals.
- Slow application processing. This is already a direct violation of one of the most common rules. A customer who waits a long time loses interest and may abandon the purchase of a product or service. In the worst case, he will tell his acquaintances and friends that they should not contact you.
People also do not like when they are constantly redirected to another specialist – then they have to tell the same story over and over again. Among other obvious mistakes, I will mention a rude, boorish or disrespectful attitude. It is necessary to work on all this, and continuously.
How to organize customer service
The entire process of preliminary organization of customer service can be divided into 4 main stages:
- Determine the goal of improving customer service. It is important to describe it as specifically and clearly as possible, preferably with a limited deadline. Use the SMART method to set goals or any other. When you reach the existing one, you can set a new one, so to speak, to constantly improve.
- Choose the appropriate tools. Here, pay attention to the rules listed above. In each of them, certain tools for interaction are specified. For example, a convenient website, fast delivery, loyalty program and much more. You can choose them one by one and gradually improve them, thus increasing the level of customer service on an ongoing basis.
- Form a responsible team. In the company, technical support is most often responsible for organizing the service. But in a good way, everyone who communicates and interacts with customers in one way or another should be involved in this work. In social networks, at points of sale, in the office – everything depends on the specific point taken. If the customer approaches with a question, the employee who is on site is obliged to help find a solution. Managers are already responsible for further collection and processing of information.
- Choose the appropriate ones KPIs. With their help, you will then measure whether you have achieved your initial goal. KPIs, by the way, are set based on the goal. For example, if you want to increase the level of sales, track the number of orders on the site or purchases at the points of sale. There are other metrics like customer loyalty index (NPS), lifetime value (LTV) and many others.
Next, you begin to gradually implement the selected tools and, with the help of responsible persons, monitor their effectiveness. Based on the results, you can adjust your goals, implement other tools, change your strategy, and so on. Remember: everyone makes mistakes, the main thing is not to stop working on mistakes and change for the better.
How to check the quality of service
To find out exactly what level of service your company has, I recommend the following steps.
- Collection of statistics. Examine your business’s key performance indicators, then compare them to past performance. Here you can use CRM systems or other analytical tools.
- Analysis of telephone records and dialogues. This method will help to identify frequently asked questions, as well as to reveal the nature of communication of technical support employees.
- Customer survey. Especially those who have been with you for a long time. They will accurately point out the existing problems and tell about the appeal of employees.
- Mystery shopper. You can hire a person from the outside to analyze all stages of the company’s communication with customers using the necessary indicators.
- Employee testing. Here it will be possible to assess the communication skills of employees, in general to determine their abilities and even potential.
How to improve customer service
To improve the quality of customer service, you can resort to the following actions.
- Train employees. Employees must share the goals and mission of the company. For this, they must first of all be properly informed. And then it is worth teaching them to broadcast your ideas to the audience and create the desired impression.
- Work on mistakes. They must first be recognized, and then corrected. There is no point in covering up the company’s shortcomings. It is better to develop weak qualities, and not to try to hide them.
- To rebuild from competitors or market leaders. Their experiences can be both good and bad examples for you. By making the same mistakes, you will simply waste time, and otherwise you can progress many times faster.
In general, develop all elements and tools of customer service so that people are happy to contact your company and then recommend it to friends and acquaintances.
There are no certain standards of interaction with customers. You should always focus only on your own unique experience and audience requests. It is important to choose the right existing tools, gradually improve them, and over time everything will definitely pay off.