You’re looking for a new product or service.
The first step, [for anyone who owns a computer or smartphone, aka most of America,] is to do a little digging online. Search engines and review sites are now consumer staples. You can bet your bottom bitcoin that your online reviews are making or breaking the number of potential leads or customers that click-through to your webpage or visit your business.
Don’t forget – Reviews DO influence your website’s local search engine ranking.
If this could be affecting your business’ growth or popularity or if you want to get ahead of a breakdown; read on for 10 Steps To A Better Customer Service Program.
My experiences as a customer are usually disappointing (can I get an Amen?) I’m actually surprised any time I have a positive one. I may be a bit of a cynic in the first place, but clearly this is a common issue.
It’s not just important to gain a ton of reviews, they also need to be mostly good ratings. Most business owners will have to deal with an unhappy customer eventually. When that happens your customer service program is tested and can result in five-star reviews… or the opposite.
1. Present A United Front
We’ve all been given “the runaround,” (I actually got one first thing this morning -__-) that feeling of confusion and misdirection is because of a glaring flaw in customer service protocols – a lack of unity.
- Make sure every member of your team knows every aspect and protocol of your customer service program and why they are in place so they can answer any customers questions in a relatable and comprehensive manner. (Transparency is everything these days.)
- Allow the customer to speak to a superior if requested and make sure your employees are gracious about this, but also that those answers are the same.
2. Team Building
Your team needs to work together for your united front. Team building is essential to any customer service program. Also, it helps your employees get along, meaning they’re happier to be together for 40+ hours every week.
- Conduct employee workshops or conferences regularly
- Conduct team building exercises
- Teach your employees skills and information that benefit their growth and grasp of customer service techniques
3. Employee Empowerment
With a united front, your employees are less likely to feel undermined by their coworkers, but even better – if they feel excited and confident about their job skills, you’ll see a difference in everything they do. Building skills and confidence is important to job satisfaction and performance.
- Show employee appreciation: Consistently praise for a job well-done
- Set attainable goals for improvement with tangible rewards
4. Customer Advocacy
Frame your customer service strategy in a way that shows your employees as advocates for the customer. They’ll work harder to resolve a customer’s problem if they feel and express that they on the customer’s side.
- Explain your customer’s “Why?” – the pain point that led them to seek out your product or service – so they understand what the customer wants or needs from your business.
- Let them know how important their role is to your business: They are the bridge between your customers and your product or service. They are very important to your financial success.
- Use job titles that emphasize this role: Like Customer Care Specialist, or Client Satisfaction Coordinator.
5. Close Customer Relationship
*Not always practical for all companies.
Creating the look and feel of a familiar and personal business-customer relationship can really boost your customer’s happiness. Most people don’t want to feel like they’re dime-a-dozen.
- Show them that they matter to you by designating one person or a team of people to consistently help them. (Think “Your dedicated account manager Jim is always here to help”)
Investing financially in customer retention will help both your sales efforts and your customer satisfaction. Reward your customers for joining or staying loyal to your brand. What is a small financial loss for you, that will make a HUGE difference in your quality and quantity of customers.
Here are some ideas:
- Loyalty programs
- Sign-up rewards
- Discounts & Exclusive offers
The patience of your employees will be tested when dealing with frustrated or unhappy customers. These are critical moments where business can be lost, and bad reviews can be earned. It can be difficult to remember a detailed customer service protocol when it’s the morning rush and a customer is screaming in your ear about her incorrect coffee order
- Simplify your program into a list of Do’s and Don’ts that is easy for your employees to understand and memorize for better recall under stress.
8. Specify Language And Attitude
Many underestimate the importance of language when communicating with unhappy customers. The way bad news is phrased can make all the difference in the world.
Tell employees which phrases and attitudes that they should use and exude. “I want you to sympathize with our customers, and tell them you’re on their side to find a solution to their problem.
Train your employees using role-play and mock customer service situations that model the acceptable conversations.
To show the importance of language see our example for a scheduling issue in a doctor’s office:
“I know how it feels to have a bad day, and I’m sorry that you got stuck in a traffic jam. Let me try to find a new time for you. I know that our appointments are currently full, but there may be a cancellation.”
- The tone changes from apathetic to sympathetic.
- The second representative is on the customer’s side, seemingly going out of their way to find a solution.
- Even if there is nothing to be done, tell your customer that you care and that you’re trying to help them.
- The customer is gently primed for bad news, and can be let down gently.
Bright Idea: Have a set of contingency protocols for situations such as this.
For instance, create a last-minute-opening wait list system for contacting customers who cannot make their original appointment or need to be squeezed in.
9. Brand your customer service
Once you have established an effective and positively-received program, include this aspect of your business as part of your brand-building. Customer service today has become increasingly impersonal, if you have the distinguishing quality a friendly and comforting customer experience, let consumers know!
10. Maintenance = Loyalty
You’ve probably received an auto-send follow-up email from a company after speaking with them in regards to a problem. This is a part of Quality Assurance and is important to monitor employee performance, but lets take this a step further…
With any relationship EVER – parents, partners, friends, all of em- it is beneficial to let someone know that you care about them and consider their happiness often. This goes with business as well. Add a regular personal follow-up to remind your customer about your services while also letting them know that they’re being cared for and are valued.