Everyone's facing a tough economy due to the COVID-19 crisis, nationally and globally. That's why it's more important than ever, in every industry, to get the "little things" right: the small but important touches that can be the difference between a winning company and an unsuccessful one. As budgets grow tighter and uncertainty grows, businesses need to be sure they're providing optimal value to their customers.
One of the ways to do that is to provide consistently excellent customer support. But many companies may wonder how to improve customer service. Improving your customer service offering is about more than relying on empty platitudes such as "the customer is always right." It involves taking a holistic approach to being a problem solver for your customers. It also means adopting policies and procedures that are successful, repeatable, and lead to better outcomes for your customers and your employees.
Let's take a look at some ideas for how to improve customer service so that you can leave your customers feeling consistently delighted.
Make Great Customer Service a Part of Your Company Culture
Your company's culture is more than a buzzword. It's made up of everything you do, how you do it, and most importantly — why you do it. Your culture includes your mission, your values, and the way you do work that differentiates you from your competitors.
The first step on how to improve customer service is making sure it's baked into your culture. You'll want to ensure that customer service is included as one of your company's core values. If this is already the case — good! If not, it's a significant change you can make. Whenever a new employee learns your core values — or when an existing employee undergoes a refresher course on them — they'll be reminded to keep the customer's needs and wants front and center in all their interactions with them
Write it Down
The next step is to codify your customer service protocols so your employees know what to do. If you don't have any in place, the suggestions on this list are a great place to start. If you already do have a standard operating procedure, be sure you document it and make it readily available to your employees so they can access it at a moment's notice.
You may have an existing plan but find it lacking in detail and comprehensiveness. In that case, you can work with some of your company's leadership to install a customer service improvement plan, incorporating many of the best practices discussed here.
Implement Company-wide Customer Service Training
It's also important to guide your team members in the right direction and make sure that they've reviewed your preferred customer service procedures and customer engagement strategies at least once. Once you've documented them, conduct a company-wide training to ensure everyone is familiar with the direction you want to take. This should be all levels — from junior employees all the way up to executives. It's important for everyone to understand how to provide high-quality customer service.
This can be online or "just in time" training, taken at the employee's convenience. You don't need to have everyone in the same room at once for this - you can even do it remotely, using collaborative software. But getting everyone on the same page is the best way to arrange for consistency in how you manage your customers and their service needs.
Be Proactive & Reactive
There are two approaches to customer service — proactive and reactive. Proactive customer service is when you satisfy the customer before anything has gone wrong. Reactive customer service is when you find yourself responding to an issue or complaint. Quality customer service incorporates elements of both.
Ultimately, you should try to be as proactive as possible. This means trying to anticipate your customer's needs before they reach out. It also means providing service prior to them encountering issues with your product or service, and attempting to limit the problems they encounter.
That said, there are still times when customers will contact you with problems. In that case, you'll want to coach your employees on common issues so that they can be prepared to help push the matter to resolution as quickly as possible.
Meet Your Customers on Multiple Channels
Part of offering great customer service is giving your customer plenty of opportunities to connect with you. This means having multiple channels through which you can communicate with them. The more channels you give them, the more likely you'll be able to resolve their problem quickly. Some of these channels can include:
- Company website contact form
- Live voice, video and text chat feature via your website
- Remote support
- Social media
This may mean having customer service representatives available to monitor some of these channels. In the case of live chat, it may mean using AI and machine learning to have a chatbot available to field questions from website visitors. It also means giving your employees remote tools they can use to manage and maintain high-quality customer service practices - programs like video chat and screen sharing tools so they can communicate with each other in case problems arise.
By having plenty of tools available, you can then have plenty of channels available. The more options your customers have, the more likely you are to hear from them and figure out their issue quickly.
Prioritize Responsiveness & Positivity
Responsiveness is also a key component of how to improve customer service. Once you've received communication from a customer, follow this roadmap for communicating with them:
- Acknowledge receipt of the communication. This can be an automated response, but what's important is that the customer knows you've heard them.
- Follow up to acknowledge that you understand the problem.
- Give them a timetable for completion. If one isn't available, be honest and tell them you're working on it. Transparency is critical here.
- When the problem is resolved, let them know.
- Ask for feedback on how you handled the issue.
Use all customer feedback to find more ways on how to improve customer service going forward. There are always ways you can improve your customer service offering by evaluating your practices and tweaking them to better serve your customers.
By sticking to the best practices outlined above, you can improve your customer service offering to leave your team members better equipped to deal with customer issues and, in turn, have happier customers.
Interested in learning about more tools that can help you not just improve your customer service offering, but help you take it to the next level? Reach out to ScreenMeet. For more on how we can help, contact us today.