how to improve customer serviceWithout a great marketing and sales department, your business will struggle to find new customers. Without a great customer service department, your business won’t be able to keep the customers it acquires.

Many businesses think of customer service as something that can be outsourced to the lowest bidder. The success of companies like Zappos, which prioritize customer service more than anything else, show that this attitude is far from the reality.

Customer service is an essential part of any good business, and an investment that repays its cost many times over in retention and good branding. In this guide, we’ll share seven simple tips that you can use to improve your customer service.

Ready to start? Before you begin, learn the basics of providing great service for your customers in our Customer Service Fundamentals course. From developing a service culture to creating support scripts, it covers customer service from the ground up.

Resolve complaints to retain customers

A lot of businesses make the mistake of assuming that any customers with a serious complaint is lost business. This isn’t true. Many customers will continue to purchase your product or service even after a serious problem, as long as it’s resolved fairly.

Instead of focusing on retaining business, focus on solving problems that customers develop. This often involves admitting wrongdoing, offering assistance, and creating a solution that reminds customers that you care about their business.

The CARP framework – Control, Acknowledge, Refocus, and Problem Solve – is one of several problem solving frameworks in customer service. By focusing on results, it’s possible to retain even the most frustrated and otherwise unhappy customers.

Is solving problems tough for your business? Learn how to create a service culture that prioritizes results and solving common customer problems in our course, How to Help Your Customers Succeed.

Focus on service quality instead of speed

Is your customer service department focused on delivering quick results? You might be better off slowing down your complaint resolution process and focusing on slow, higher quality customer service.

Most customers care far more about outcome than they do about speed, and slowing down your processes to improve quality could result in a higher customer retention rate, lower expenses, and a reputation for customer service excellence.

Don’t be in a rush. Customers are happy to wait for a day or two when an issue pops up. Focus on delivering the best possible outcome – whether it’s a replacement or an email with helpful support information – instead of just resolving problems quickly.

Be kind when customers don’t expect it

There’s nothing more useful in customer service than the element of surprise. From end-of-year holiday gifts to free samples for loyal customers, doing nice things for a customer is the best way to improve their perception of your company.

This is particularly true when customers approach you with a problem. Instead of just solving the problem for them, go above and beyond and offer more value than they received from you before the problem occurred in the first place.

Whether this means a free gift with their next order or simply a friendly, helpful call to explain a problem with their account, being kind when customers are expecting the opposite is always the best way to create long-term business relationships.

Do you want to learn strategies to make customers get what they want? Enroll in our Customer Service Training course to learn how to resolve problems and help turn disgruntled customers into loyal supporters of your business.

Only outsource to experienced support staff

With offshore customer service reps available from as little as $4 per hour, it can be extremely tempting to outsource your customer service to the lowest bidder. Avoid giving in to temptation, as the results can often be disastrous for your business.

Outsourcing customer service can save you money, but it often results in far more frustrated customers and far fewer resolved cases. If customers don’t get the help they need when they need it, they may end their relationship with your business.

Focus on delivering the best possible experience for customers, and only outsource customer service when you know you’re working with competent, qualified people who understand your product, service and company culture.

Don’t treat customers like cogs in the machine

Do you want to improve your customer service right now? Drop the professional attitude and focus on delivering a personal experience that customers are used to receiving from their friends and close social circle.

There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’re a replaceable cog inside a machine. Instead of using formal language like “Dear Customer” and ticket IDs, use personal greetings like “Hi Customer” and sign messages with your real name.

People like dealing with other people, not computer systems or automated online support. The closer your customer service system feels to an organic conversation, the happier customers will be with the support you offer.

Have a plan for every question and complaint

Almost all of the complaints and issues your customer service reps encounter will deal with will be repeats. Common questions about product functionality, services and warranties are best dealt with using a basic plan or set of instructions.

If you receive a question or request more than once every blue moon, create a plan to make it easier for your support reps to respond to. You can also assign the most common questions you receive to new reps, using older ones for difficult issues.

Systematizing your customer service department doesn’t result in less personal or helpful service – often, it results in the exact opposite. Don’t write scripts – instead, focus on writing support frameworks to help your reps solve common problems.

Poll your customers to avoid common issues

Most businesses know significantly less about their customers than they think. One of the best ways to solve problems before they occur is by polling your customers to learn more about what they want, as well as what they don’t want.

A simple online form delivered to your most important customers once a year can be a valuable source of information. As well as solving common support issues, you may also learn about new opportunities for your business to research and develop.

Learn how to survey your customers to learn more about their problems, ideas and feedback in our course, How To Interview Your Customers and Get Useful Feedback.

Learn more about improving customer service

Great customer service isn’t something that develops overnight. In order to offer the very best service to its customers, your business should develop a culture that puts he needs of its customers ahead of anything else.

Learn how to improve customer service, increase your customer retention rate and develop a reputation as a friendly, people-driven business with our blog post on the 10 best ways to improve your bottom line through customer service.

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