When it comes to customer service, there’s good and then there’s ‘not so good. Then there’s stellar customer service that’s simply off the charts. This is what gets your customers not only buying more products from you, but also sharing their experience with all their friends (on social media sites like FaceBook). Superior customer service is like a puzzle made of five easy pieces. Put these together, and your customers will be raving fans.
Hire the right people with the right mindset from the start. They have to be able to work as a team and also take responsibility individually, especially when problems arise. The ‘right mindset’ means that the customer comes first (but that doesn’t mean they are always right). It’s always about them, their satisfaction or their problem, and not your company. It only takes one rude, arrogant or uncaring staff member to ruin your company’s image.
Make sure your virtual staff have the skills and knowledge they need. Competency at the job is a major part of customer service. If they’re not ready to handle everything, keep them in training until they are. In addition to company policies and protocols, they also need to be able to think outside of the box, troubleshoot, and deal with the unexpected. The ability to help angry customers is one of the skills all your people need to acquire.
3. Systems and Protocols
Everyone in your company needs to be on the same page. There should be specific guidelines and systems in place for handling as many customer service situations as possible. It should never be ad hoc.
Create a complete and clear customer service policy and put it in writing. It should cover as many situations as you can imagine with a customer and have a protocol for dealing with each. At the same time, you need to lay out the principles to follow in the event that a situation comes up that isn’t covered in your policy. By providing both guidelines and principles to follow, your customer service staff is freed up to manage the majority of situations, while you can ensure that every customer is dealt with fairly.
Establish a reliable method and process of communication, not just between your staff and customers, but internally as well. This should be included in your system of protocols. Focus on making communication as quick and efficient as possible. An internal communication breakdown can turn a small customer service hitch into a total disaster.
No matter how good your customer service, the product itself has to meet or exceed customer expectations. Part of good customer service is listening to customer feedback and making improvements to both your products and services. Customer suggestions and complaints are a prime opportunity to help you make a better product. And, when customers see that you’ve responded to their suggestions, they become all the more impressed with your brand and loyal to your company.
When creating these five essential pieces of the customer service puzzle for your company, start with the customer. Put yourself in their place and imagine how you’d like to be treated. When hiring staff, ask yourself if you’d find the experience with them pleasant or not. Create training materials and service protocols that handle your customers in a way you’d expect to be handled. Once everything is established, always continue striving to improve your customer service. That’s how you make it not just good, but untouchable by your competition.
1. Which of the 5 components of customer service do you already have?
2. Which ones do you need to set up or work on?
3. Pick one component to work on first and outline the steps you will take.