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The following guest post is courtesy of Adinah Brown, content manager at Leverate.
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Good customer service today goes well beyond handing out points for frequent purchases, especially when the average consumer’s relationship with brands is polygamous. Even the most loyal of customers cheats on their favorite brand, and one bad experience will send them on a social media spree to drag a company’s reputation through the mud.
On the flip side, one exceptional experience will have a consumer talking about you and recommending you to anyone who’ll listen. Studies show that acquiring a new customer can cost a company anywhere between 5 and 25% more than retaining one and that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profitability by 25 to 95%.
Brand loyalty is important, so how can you earn the loyalty of your customers? How can you establish practices that delight customers so they keep coming back and recommend you to their friends and family? Here, our top 5 best practices for outstanding customer service:
1. Employee engagement. Empowering your employees to take part in delighting customers is critical in achieving good customer support. Make customer service a key ingredient of your mission and incentivize your employees to infuse that mission in everything they do. Allow them to work independently in solving customer issues and encourage them to do so in creative ways.
Measure the way in which issues are resolved not only in a quantitative way (number of tickets closed), but in a qualitative way as well (did the employee go the extra mile to help a customer?)
Allocate a budget so employees can use resources, at their discretion, to delight customers. From handwritten thank you notes to gifts or discount codes, taking care of a customer will work wonders for your top line.
2. Set expectations. We all know that exceeding expectations is a great way to impress a customer, but how can you exceed expectations if you don’t know what those expectations are? For example, if you only handle communication via e-mail and your customer calls and nobody answers, they’ll be upset, but if you let them know from the beginning that you only communicate via email and respond within 24 hours, they’ll be pleased when you respond within the hour. Let the customer know what you are providing, set the expectations from the start, and then exceed those expectations.
3. Listen, then talk. When a customer reaches out to you, they want to be heard and they want to know you are listening. If they are upset about something, use active listening to get to the root of the problem and offer solutions.
4. Define customer service standards and make sure your employees know about them. Create a policy document that is specific, concise and measurable, and then train your employees to help them excel. If employee expectations are set as part of job descriptions, you can use these standards in performance reviews.
5. After the sale, don’t forget about your customer. Create follow-up touchpoints to thank them for doing business with you and show them you care about their business. Studies show that following up to thank a customer for their business is one of the best ways in which to improve customer loyalty.
Customer service is vital to marketing your business, and because consumers tend to spend more with brands they love and trust, building brand loyalty is crucial. Establish solid customer service standards, and then implement those practices so that your customers will be telling every person they know, how great your company is.