Anyone who’s worked in customer service knows you can’t please everyone. When you’re dealing with a large number of customers daily, it’s difficult to give everyone the experience they expect. This task can be especially challenging if your company has multiple locations. So how do you ensure each branch is sending the same message and delivering the same level of quality service?
Plus, in the age of social media, small issues with customers can quickly get blown out of proportion online and become a big headache for your company. That’s why it’s so important to focus on creating an efficient customer experience, which may be even more essential than offering a friendly face.
Efficient customer service vs. friendly customer service
Friendly customer service is exactly what it sounds like: Your customer service employees are pleasant and make the customer feel welcome. But being friendly isn’t enough on its own; your representatives also need to be able to handle problems quickly enough to satisfy the client.
Efficient customer service means reps are knowledgeable about your products or services and can quickly give customers the answers they need. If a problem arises, they resolve the issues and leave customers satisfied. That’s better than providing a staffer who’s friendly but doesn’t know how to solve the customer’s problem or preserve the sale.
As kind as it is to greet customers with a smile, it’s more important to give them reliable, effective service. That may mean improving your overall customer service experience with a combination of in-person and online tactics. This is actually a win-win proposition, as the results of efficient customer service will help your customers and your company.
Amazon, one of the most successful internet companies of all time, is built on the foundation of efficiency. The website design is warm and welcoming, but the reason customers keep returning is because Amazon’s service is often the most efficient way to purchase the products they want. For another case study, see what your business can learn from Southwest Airlines‘ approach to customer service.
The benefits of efficient customer service
Your business will reap a number of payoffs from efficient customer service – five in particular.
- Customer retention: Good customer service can mean the difference between a one-time buyer and a long-term customer. When customers are happy with the experience you provide, they’ll be less likely to leave for a competitor. [Learn how to improve your customer retention with social media.]
- Customer referrals: If customers are satisfied with your level of service, they’ll be more likely to refer your business to their friends and family. This leads to increased business that doesn’t require additional marketing.
- Profits: Providing better customer service can not only lead to more business, but since you’ll spend less to acquire those customers, it can boost your profits.
- Competitive edge: Excellent customer service gives you an edge over your competitors. According to a 2021 study from customer service expert Shep Hyken, more than 80% of customers will change brands due to poor customer service. You can win those consumers by offering a better customer experience than your rivals.
- Reputation: Efficient customer service is a great way to protect your business’s reputation and improve your public image. Pleased clients can boost your online brand reputation by leaving reviews on Yelp and other review sites, and responding to those online reviews is another way to demonstrate the quality service you provide.
When you’re considering what customer service structure is best for your business, evaluate the pros and cons of outsourced customer service. You may want to be more hands-on, or you may find that it’s worth it to hand off this aspect to a call center.
How to deliver efficient customer service
Whether you outsource your customer service department or provide customer service via text message for a more personalized experience, there are key strategies all businesses should embrace if they want to deliver efficient customer service.
Keep your promises, and show consistency.
It’s essential that you keep any promises your business makes to its customers. Failure to follow through can damage both your relationship with your customers and your company’s reputation.
Consistency is another important aspect of efficient in-house customer service, especially if you have multiple locations. You need to deliver the same message and level of service across the board. If you look at a global company such as Starbucks, you’ll notice that the message, service and product are pretty much the same no matter which location you visit. That’s because Starbucks focuses on meeting a consistent standard for all customers.
Be available via online channels.
For brick-and-mortar businesses, it’s vital to deliver efficient customer service in person, but it’s equally critical to provide it online. If a problem arises, some customers will contact you via social media or email, and they’ll expect a quick response.
According to SuperOffice, 12% of customers expect businesses to respond to email inquiries within 15 minutes, and 46% look for a response in less than four hours. But it can be difficult to respond that quickly, especially if you’re managing multiple social media platforms and company inboxes. Fortunately, some of the top CRM software has customer service features and social media integrations that can help you quickly address customer inquiries and complaints from a single platform.
Of course, some customer questions are very simple to answer, and you may find that you receive certain inquiries over and over. Equipping your team with suggested responses can cut the time your customer service reps spend answering questions. Another function of being socially available is that providing customer service through social media is an additional way to manage your online reputation.
Some customers don’t want to speak to a customer service representative and would rather solve the problem on their own. If given adequate resources, many customers can do just that, possibly lowering the number of customer service staffers you need on hand. If you offer enough quality self-service options that can direct clients to the answers they need quickly, you can provide efficient customer service without relying on employees to deliver personalized experiences.
Self-service tools are a scalable solution to customer service problems. For instance, you can provide a detailed and regularly updated knowledgebase on your company website where customers can find answers to frequently asked questions. You could also offer a forum where customers can ask questions and chat with other clients for help in resolving any issues.
If you’re looking for a call service to manage your customer service needs, check out our picks for the best call centers.
Another way to provide efficient customer service is by anticipating problems before they occur, which saves the customer from having to reach out with questions. Using customer analytics is a great way to assess your client base so you can strategize accordingly.
Providing proactive customer support is powerful because it allows you to go above and beyond in meeting customers’ expectations. This kind of service can help you turn your customers into lifelong fans. Find out more about what makes customer loyalty so important.
Support your staff.
If you want your customer service reps to provide efficient customer service, you have to give them the tools they need. If staffers are only equipped to solve problems within narrow parameters, they can’t be very effective. That’s why it’s crucial to provide your staff with the budget and resources, such as employee training, necessary to solve customer problems adequately. It’s also worth rewarding your employees, such as with a discretionary bonus, for efficiently handling customer problems. This creates a company culture of employees who are willing to go above and beyond for the company’s customers.
Megan Ritter contributed to the writing and research in this article.