Trying to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors? Separating yourself from other rival companies involves more than just a better product and lower prices. Implementing a solid customer service strategy is one of the most overlooked aspects within all businesses when it comes to gaining an edge over their competitors.
Studies show that the number one reason companies lose their customers is because they are unhappy with the customer service they received. Surprisingly, it’s not because they were dissatisfied with the product or preferred another competitor instead.
To emphasize the importance of customer service further, let’s look at it from a cost standpoint. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, acquiring new customers can cost a business as much as seven times more than retaining their existing customers. Some of this is due to the fact that customer profitability usually increases over the life of a retained customer as opposed to a brand new customer.
Now that you’re aware of the significance of customer service, think about your company and the policies you currently have in place. How would you rate your overall customer service? How do your customers rate it? If you are looking for ways of improvement, read these strategies closely and see if they can have a positive effect on your business.
Customer Service Strategies
Setting Customer Expectations – Always set your customer’s expectations early on, rather than later. A good way of doing this is by under promising and over delivering on the expectations you originally planned out with your customer. In doing this, you eliminate the uncertainty for the level of service you need to offer to make sure your client is happy. For example, say you owned a computer repair company and your need to send technicians out to your customer whenever they have a problem. Your service level agreement (SLA) may state that you will guarantee service within an hour, but in reality your response time is within ten minutes. This way you can always meet that one hour deadline and give yourself extra leeway in case an unexpected problem arises.
Customers tend to remember negative experiences a lot better than positive ones. You could send a technician to the same customer within the one hour SLA every time, but if you are late just one time, they will remember. They could even cancel your service because of it, which is why it’s important to set customer expectations early.
Hire And Train The Right Staff – It’s vital that you fill your company with people who possess good character and value customer service. Hire for attitude and train for skills. People can be taught how to perform duties within a job, but it’s a lot more difficult to teach someone how to have a positive attitude while working. Research shows clearly that workers stay when they are happy and respect the company in which they work for. And a happy staff usually translates to great customer service, if they are trained correctly.
Build Trust – Trust is an essential aspect of business, and in order to gain trust from your customers, you must build a solid relationship with them. To do this, take an interest in your clients and their business. Research their company and determine how you play a role in their everyday activities. What does their company value? Use this information to develop a relationship with them. Don’t focus so much on selling your product, but try to find ways to improve their business so they can be successful. If this means giving them a follow-up call the week after you met with them, then do just that. Gaining trust from your customers doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process that takes dedication and some time to develop.
Ask For Customer Feedback – Obtaining any type of customer feedback is invaluable for learning how well your service is performing for your clients. And a great way of collecting customer feedback is through surveys. Tons of online stores will ask you to fill out a quick survey after you purchase a product so they can get an idea of how they are doing as a company.
To measure how well your customer service is performing as a whole, there are three things you should take into consideration. First, monitor customer feedback on an individual level. Comparing feedback through a wide range of customers would be pointless. Narrow it down to a specific customer, identify what they thought, and plan a course of action from there. Next, trend feedback across a specific period of time. This way you can track which areas your company has improved in and which needs more work on. Lastly, make sure your customer surveys provide actual intelligence. Make sure it shows data such as which customers are at risk and where your strengths currently are.
The Internet Is Your Best Friend – We are in the era of social media, so you would be crazy not to take full advantage of its benefits. Most of your clients are probably online, so start building relationships with them over the internet. Create accounts on social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp and Google+. Odds are your customers will also have an account with at least one of those sites.
Once you have your accounts setup, start filling out your profiles and invite your clients to follow and like your page. Then you can begin linking valuable and relevant content about your company. This can include product updates, case studies, customer reviews, and important news stories that are related to your company. Also encourage your clients to leave testimonials and reviews on your page to give others a reason to use your services.
Implement Anticipatory Services – Take a proactive approach with your clients by using anticipatory services. This means instead of waiting for something negative to occur, take the initiate by informing your clients that a possible problem may arise. It is said in the business world that the value you get is proportionate to the value you give. This rule especially applies when it comes to customer service.
Let’s say you are a long-time customer of a particular bank. If your checking account ever goes below $1,000, you will end up paying a fee. This bank happens to use feature that sends you an email or text message whenever your checking account has a balance below $1,500 to remind you that you are in danger of going below the minimum balance. Now as a customer of this bank, wouldn’t you be more appreciative of the fact that they use this anticipatory service to help prevent you from paying a fee? This is just one of many ways you can be proactive with your customer service to please your clients.
Customer Service Training
If you’re like me, there is no such thing as retaining too much information. Take your customer service strategy a step further by taking a customer service training course online. With over two hours of detailed content and 66 lectures packaged together, you will learn how to communicate effectively with clients, how to develop a positive attitude, and tons of other aspects related with customer service. This course is taught by Webucator Training, which has trained over 26,000 students and counting.