When it comes to running and growing your business, it all boils down to the strength of your corporate philosophy and your customer service.
Customers will say time and again that they are willing to pay more for good customer service. Many customers say they will stop doing business with a company if the customer service culture is poor. This trend in customer experience surveys shows that your retention rates and overall customer satisfaction rely heavily on your customer service and corporate philosophies – in other words, your company culture.
Take the time to support your team and keep them focused on the customer. Do what it takes to make your customers choose to continue doing business with your company. A team that works toward the common goal of providing excellent service and making sure customers like your business will find great success. Take a look at these seven essential components of an excellent corporate philosophy for customer service.
1. Prioritize each customer.
Every customer deserves to be treated as the important part of your business that they are. Set this standard from the beginning to ensure your team knows that customer satisfaction is the No. 1 priority. The future of your business depends on your customers, so your team must treat everyone well at every touchpoint.
It's vital to hang on to your customers. Talk is cheap – you have to treat each one of them like royalty at every opportunity. Your customers are the reason you are in business; it's your job to ensure they are happy and want to come back for more. So the next time you are overwhelmed and frustrated, remember never to take it out on the customers. Retention is where the money is – customer service is more important than pricing. Your customers want to know they are valued. Provide the best service possible every time you can and hold on to your customers for dear life.
2. Strive for a great reputation.
No one wants to do business with a company that everyone is complaining about. If your business offers poor customer service and low-quality products, word will travel quickly and your customers will take their business elsewhere.
Make sure everyone in your company strives to do their best to give your customers an unforgettable experience. Your customers should have such good experiences with your business they want to share them. Customer service is where the magic happens – each interaction gives you the chance to prove to your customers how much you care. Focus on ways to create relationships that matter by giving your customers the chance to talk with people who care and don't just give them a generic response. Your team must embrace the philosophy that your brand's reputation is of utmost importance.
3. Apologize when needed.
It's OK to make a mistake – after all, we are all human. However, when your business messes up, it's likely your frustrated customers will expect some exceptional customer service to resolve the issue. It's important to know when and how to apologize for the mishap.
First off, fess up early and own it. Realize that sometimes an apology isn't enough. Some situations call for you to give a hefty discount or even something for free. It takes approximately 12 positive experiences to make up for a single poor one. This means that an apology and a sincere attempt to fix the problem as quickly as possible are crucial to reverse the damage. Always own up to your mistakes instead of placing blame elsewhere, and take the necessary actions to ensure you and your team never make the same mistake twice.
4. Be reachable.
Make sure your customers can reach you when they need problems resolved or just a listening ear. Your customer support team needs to be as accessible as possible. Some customers prefer to communicate by email or phone, while others (especially younger customers) like live chat and social media as communication options. Ensure you have a team available to respond to customers on all platforms.
Your initial accessibility isn't the only important thing here, though. If you're speaking with a customer on the phone, avoid transferring them multiple times if you can help it. People don't want to be placed on hold and bounced around before their issue is handled. Don't let your business become known for doing that. Empower your employees to make decisions so your first-call resolution – and customer satisfaction – increases.
5. Respond as quickly as possible.
Just because you make your customer relations team accessible doesn't mean you've guaranteed customers a response. Responsiveness is one of the crucial elements of customer service.
To develop a responsive customer relations team, train your employees to get back to every email, phone call or other form of communication within 48 hours. Even if your team is responding to complaints or difficult customers, every return phone call or email should be a priority.
6. Teach proper communication skills.
Customer service skills are incomplete without communication skills to boot. Even if you consistently teach your team best customer service practices such as responding promptly and apologizing when needed, these lessons may fail to translate to happy customers if you don't also teach your employees how to listen to, interpret and address customer complaints. Excellent communication is unquestionably among the most important elements of customer service, but it's easy to overlook – don't make that mistake.
7. Deliver a consistent experience.
Each interaction a customer has with your brand needs to feel consistent, and customer service is no exception. Whether a customer is speaking to a representative on the phone, coming into your brick-and-mortar store, or using a self-service channel on your website, it's vital to make sure your brand aligns.
Your tone and voice should feel familiar across your team and craft a consistent experience for your customers. Deliver consistency through your persona, branding and web design. Consistency throughout the customer journey increases customer satisfaction, boosts loyalty and builds trust. Make sure your team knows the overall message you want to portray.
What is the importance of good customer service?
Good customer service is crucial for so many reasons. These are some of the biggest ones:
- It's easier to retain customers than find new ones. A happy customer is 67% more likely to spend money with your company again to spend money with your company again than with a competitor, so you should do all you can to provide a great experience to even your most difficult customers. Great service means greater long-term profits, no matter the customer.
- Your customer service team is often your customers' first interaction with your company. How can you expect to drive customer retention if, in your customers' first interactions with your business, they perceive your company culture to be one of not caring at all about the customer? The adage "the customer is always right" exists for a reason – addressing your customers' needs directly correlates to customer retention.
- A happy customer might refer other people. Strong customer relationships can be just as powerful as an aggressive sales force for drawing in new customers. Happy customers might refer friends and family to you, and positive customer feedback online can reel in total strangers.
- You can charge more. After you develop a strong customer relationship with someone, you might notice that the person sticks with you even as your prices go up. That's because most customers will gladly pay for great customer service. Similarly, someone with whom you have a strong customer relationship may be more likely to buy other items from your company.
- You have a competitive advantage. To see this principle in action, look at how Amazon operates. Sure, people love Amazon's low prices, but the brand is just as renowned for its excellent customer service culture and constant prioritizing of customer needs. Amazon is one of the most successful companies in the world – and its company culture of prioritizing positive customer feedback is a large part of this success.
Excellent customer service depends on employees who can adjust themselves to the personalities of their customers. The way you take care of your customers will shape their perception of your business. Place a strong emphasis on making your customers happy, from their first contact with your business throughout their journey.
Your business's philosophy toward its customers should align with your vision. When every member of your company is on board, it's much easier to work toward a common goal. Ensure your team strives to perform their very best, and place equal importance on each component of your customer service philosophy to make sure everyone lives up to it.
Max Freedman contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.