A. understand better the importance and benefits of customer service
B. know how to improve customer service in order to keep and to increase customer base, to drive loyalty, to increase revenue
C. grow efficiency
Time needed to review this content: 45 MIN
In today's business, characterized by strong competition it is no longer enough to sell better or cheaper products / services than the competition. Customer service is nowadays considered like part of your product or service package.
What exactly is customer service?
All those services offered by a company (beside the core product / service) which ensures the selection, the acquisition, start of use, and also a safe, long term, economic operation for the customer.
A professional customer service is also a key factor to the success of your company. High quality services offered to your customers are no longer a luxury, it is a basic condition of surviving and developing. Researches show that in average business situation only 4% of customers makes complaints to the company, the rest of dissatisfied customers simply walks away or even worse, they complain to a lot of people they know (nowadays even on social media) . We also know that it is 6 time more difficult (expensive) to get new customers than to keep the existing one.
A company must offer services to its customers before, during and after selling products or services.
Benefits of a good customer service:
- further buying (with less communication effort),
- good references to other prospects,
- reducing costs of migration,
- reducing operational costs,
- stopping competition to enter the market,
- easier communication,
- grow of your employees satisfaction and productivity.
"In the new technological era, customer service is the King"
When can a company states that they have satisfied customers? Let's analyze this issue trough the example of a cell phone (or a car) producer's customers behaviour:
a. they complain, but still use its products /services, at least for a while
b. they say that the company's product / service was all right and they are satisfied, but next time they buy the competition's product
c. they are happy and after years and years they still buy products from the same producers.
Only case c. is considered a situation of full satisfaction, which can lead to further sales.
The products and services you offer are only as good as the service you back them with. Even if You have the best product on the market, without a proper customer service your company won't have satisfied customers, who will return for future buying.
Where to use customer service? Main categories:
a. technical customer service - including ITC services or car, industrial equipment sales - in case of implementation of new system / machines, in case of use, troubleshooting, repair / maintenance. The customer service agent needs to have proper technical background, beside the communicational skills.
b. sales customer service - almost any (complex) product / services - information for customers, home delivery, complaint management. The customer service agent needs to have good knowledge regarding sales process and communicational skills.
Support is an integral part of the product /service experience. This is even more valid in IT services.
- For ex. an ERP system or a production control system offered in SaaS system without a service desk system to solve in almost real time any problem or information needs, has no real value or trust from your customers.
Channels opened for your customers to contact your company:
- personal contact: (where customers can show up and discuss face to face) smile is contagious, with a smile You start positively the interaction even if the customer is coming with a complaint, friendly comment. Pay attention to queues. If they have to wait ensure eye contact, let them know that You are aware of their presence etc.
- online (digitalized): maybe the most common in present days (ITC) business. You can use e-mail or mail-form (pay attention to reaction time, somebody /or an internal system has to be standby all the time). You can use chat program on your web page (the same conditions almost real time reaction) or a "help button" in his system which contacts your company instantly. Even if You cannot offer immediate solution, let them know that You noticed and understood their problems and somebody is working on a solution.
- by phone - answer every call or call back as soon as possible every customer. Keep your line available (similar situation to queues). If a customer service agent works in the same time face to face desk and phone desk too, normally phone calls have priority. But do not neglect other customers.
- combination of above - an efficient method of customer service can be a combination of all these.
For a good customer service You need an efficient system, including (digital, like CRM) tools for registration and follow-up of complaint, services and solutions offered.
Main principle of an efficient customer service
1. Support customers as a team.
Customer service is a team sport — and not just for your customer support team. Even back-office team has a main responsibility to react and help the front-office. Train every employee on your helpdesk software so they can all pitch in when times are busy. Sure, you’ll want to pass highly technical cases to the experts, but everyone needs to be able to help out. Successful start-ups can tell you that when everyone spends time on the front lines, it’s easier to stay aligned around customers and maintain service levels when things get busy.
2. Listen to customers (and share their feedback).
Customers want to be heard, especially when they have problems with your products or services. Encourage service agents to ask questions when interacting with customers to identify and fully understand the real problems, and to avoid miscommunication. The more your agents know about your customers and their needs, the more of an asset those agents are to both your company and your customers. Your customer support team can also be an amazing source of product innovation.
3. Don’t be a robot.
75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent, and no one likes talking to a robot. So show your customers you aren't a machine. Encourage agents to add personality to their emails.
4. Be honest about what you don’t know.
Nobody likes a know-it-all (especially when doesn’t actually does). If your agents aren't sure how to troubleshoot a problem, it's okay for them to let the customer know they’ll get in touch with the right person and circle back when they have an answer. They want to be cared for: so show effort and concern regarding them and their problems. Even if You cannot solve their problems at once, it they see the effort, it is possible to stay your customer
5. Practice empathy.
In today’s often impersonal world, empathy has become a competitive advantage. Your service agents especially must master the lost art of empathy to deliver effective services. Ask agents to put themselves in the shoes of the customer when working on a case.
6. Know your product/service.
The more your customer support team knows about your product, the better they’ll be at servicing it. Make training (technical, product related) a key part of your customer support operations.
7. Remember every second counts.
Customers hate to wait. So give your agents the helpdesk software they need to support customers as efficiently as possible. If You are in system development phase it is enough to give feedback that You are taking in consideration the issue. But if it's about a problem which can affect an online / real time working system already in function the reaction needs to be minutes.
Why customer service matters?
In the first video we can understand better the importance of good customer service and the risk of the bad one. You'll understand the main reasons why customers feel upset regarding costumer services.
"15 steps to great customer service"
Following the 15 steps from this video, You can noticeably increase the quality of your customer service.
Treating angry customer's complaint
In customer service one of the most delicate situation is when an angry customer appears with a complaint. In this case, we have to act very diplomatic and professional. Here You can find good tips how to treat angry customers.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Learn to understand the difference between empathy and apathy. - customers don't care about how much You know, until they don't feel that You care about them and their problems.
Don't take complaints as an attack on You. Customers are usually upset on the situation, or the (technical / commercial) problem, not on You.
And even more important, You need to manage complaints as a CHANCE to keep the customer for a long term and to collect ideas for improving products and service.
Pay attention not to use "killer words", like "please calm down", when the customer is upset because your company made an important mistake. Instead show empathy and availability to solve the problem.
Satisfied customers leads go higher turnover. But a company can have satisfied customers only with a high standard customer service, which completes the quality, the price and the distribution of your products/services.
Main categories of customer service: technical C.S. and sales C.S.
Most important channels for customer service are: personal contact, by phone, online (digital) and combination of all above.
Following the principle of a good customer service your company's activity becomes easier, more efficient and helps keeping your customers happy, in order to achieve higher results on long term.
THINK OF SOME ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS
1. Make a list with the top3 most usual complaints observed in your company! Try to imagine, how You would feel, if it would happen to You.
2. Make a short list of the possible ideas coming from complaints, that can lead to improving your products/services or innovation.