Regardless of the industry, everyone has had a challenging experience with customer service. Because the Internet has given businesses the opportunity to connect with more consumers, the focus on customer service quality has given way to customer service quantity. This practice devalues the concept of customer service, which shifts emphasis to a negative, self-serving business pursuit: Breaking records by the number of customers helped in an hour. By taking the approach of providing unparalleled quality assistance, as opposed to only trying to increase quantity served, small businesses are guaranteed to have happier, more loyal customers. Here are five key practices (starting with the easiest) to creating an exceptional customer experience:
- Ask, Listen, Act and Sympathize! Because your customer was already frustrated enough to pick up the phone and contact your customer service department, they are most likely foreseeing their experience to be a negative one. This is the chance to admit when you are wrong, and follow up by working your butt off to remedy their concerns.
- Send an Update Email. Put yourself in your customers shoes. We’ve all been there, and you don’t like waiting in the dark either. By sending a simple note at the end of the day: “We’re still looking into the problem and hope to have a solution ASAP–Thank you for your patience,” you can prevent a handful of call-backs of customers just wondering what the situation is.
- Create an FAQ Guide. To compliment direct support (whether on the phone or in person), your business can add a page that customers can go to find answers on their own. Many times, 80 percent of customer support issues are recurrent and could be addressed with a proactive answer. If you have a website, link to an FAQ or Most Common Questions page. Or, place copies of a Common Questions guide anywhere your customers frequent.
- Implement Feedback Surveys. Not only is this a great customer support practice, but it’s a great selling tool, and doesn’t necessarily require a long list of questions. A Net Promoter Score survey asks one simple question, Would you recommend us to a friend or colleague? and is considered to be one of the most important indicators of a company’s success. The score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors (scores of 0-6 out of 10) from Promoters (scores of 9 and 10).
- Conduct Usability Testing. Usability Testing is an extremely useful way to see how a customer interacts with your product or website. There are firms for hire that can do this for you (more expensive) or you can put an ad on Craigslist or find acquaintances who can do it for a low price or even for free (less expensive.) For a few hundred dollars, you can find and prevent fallout points and customer roadblocks that can thwart hundreds of future customer service calls. Learn more about setting up effective usability testing here.
Share your own ideas: Is there something your customer service department does that sets you apart from your competition?