Create a Memorable Customer Service Experience

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We hope that no one will ever need to deal with our customer service teams. We hope that the products or services that we offer are so good, that there are never any difficulties fulfilling somebody’s order, that everyone loves the brand and their experience with it so much that there is no need for a customer service department at all.

And that’s probably why most companies think about customer service last. It’s also why most customer service experiences are terrible.

Because the truth is, no matter the company or the product, some percentage of your customers will come into contact with your customer service teams. And that experience is going to determine a lot about what happens to them, and to your company’s efforts overall.

What is a memorable customer service experience?

A memorable customer service experience is one that leaves the customer feeling good about the company. Most customers are only going to reach out to your customer service team if they have a problem. For that reason, many of them are going to be angry or upset or confused. Needless to say, they are not a good mood. They have a problem and they expect you to solve it.

That said, too many of our own experiences with customer service from various organizations in the past have left a bad taste in our mouths. So the bar is not high to create a memorable experience.

Why create a memorable customer service experience?

A memorable customer service experience can do three things for your company.

First, it can grow customer loyalty. If someone has a good experience with customer service, they have a better overall impression of your brand. With that, they are more likely to remain with you rather than switch to your competitor.

Second, it can lead to word of mouth marketing and organic growth. Someone who has a memorable experience with your customer service team, because they went out of their way to solve her problem, is likely to talk about it. They will become brand advocates, perhaps spreading the word offline, perhaps leaving reviews online. That customer will bring in additional customers.

Third, it will decrease refunds and returns. Poor customer service experiences often precede cancellations and returns. If you can deliver high-level customer service, you can head many of those off.

How to create a memorable customer service experience?

Step one to creating a more memorable customer service experience is to prioritize it in your business. Don’t just pay lip service to it. Make it a core part of your organizational culture.

Step two is to empower your people to deliver great service. Often it is the people on the front lines who will have the best sense of what customers are looking for. Give them a say in all customer service-related decisions.

Step three is to measure results. Develop a simple customer service dashboard with key metrics you can share and set goals around. These might be rates of resolution, average time to resolution, surveys delivered to customers after contact, etc.

Bottom Line: No one ever created a memorable customer service experience by accident.

How Effective Customer Service Can Boost Customer Loyalty - Guest Post

The following is a guest post from Garret Norris. Garret is the founder and CEO of Healthy Business Builder and through his company, remains dedicated as ever to use his training and real-life business experience to meet his passion for seeing business succeed through disciplined management, creative marketing and committed client service.

Building a strong customer relationship and satisfaction that leads up to customer loyalty is possible through improved quality of customer service.

Having excellent customer service can lead to an increase in customer retention.  When you tend to your customer’s needs, over time, you’ll be able to build a relationship with them which results in repeat sales.

On the other hand, once you missed their expectations, they are more likely to switch to another competitor who can provide a better experience while dragging down your reputation along with them.

A single bad encounter with a customer service representative could cause a ripple effect on your business. While there are 72% of customers who would share good experiences with others, 62% would likely share the bad as well.

If your business provides a less than satisfying experience, chances are your reputation would take a hit from the bad reviews and complaints you’ll get. New customers rely less on advertisements and sales reps than recommendations from people they know such as family and friends.

Excellent Customer Service Means Making Returns Policy Easier

Before making a purchasing decision, some customers look at a company’s return policy for basis. Offering hassle-free returns is essential to your overall approach to customer service as it is not only great for persuading new customers but also boosts existing customers’ loyalty.

While a lenient policy resulted in more returns, it also led in an increase in purchases.

A study showed that free returns could boost spending by up to 457% of pre-return spending.

Items that are easy to return gives customers enough confidence to make and repeat purchase.

Compared to an organization with a generous return policy, firms with a stricter policy decreases consumers’ willingness to buy a product. Creating rules that discourage customers from returning products, such as fees, reduces spending and a business decreases to 75%- 100% by the end of two years.

Another factor that lessens a customer’s motivation to make a purchase is a deadline. A short time frame also creates pressure around the decision to return an item. Meanwhile, a longer return period would take away that urgency. The product would eventually grow on the consumer.

Researchers at the University of Texas-Dallas find it may be a result of the endowment effect. It means that the longer the customers hold on to a product, the more reluctant they’ll be to part with it.

Of course, returns come with a cost that your company has to cover but making a returns policy easier can increase customer satisfaction.

Excellent Customer Service Fosters Efficient Delivery

One of the root causes of customer service issues revolves around delivery. Poor delivery services discourage customers from doing business with your company again. 

A study shows that late deliveries makes 17% of consumers abandon business with a company after one delivery and 55% of customers left after two to three times.

Delivery can be a real challenge, especially for smaller business. Not only do you need to provide high quality and reliability for customers, but you also need to keep costs down which means relying on couriers. While you can control the quality of your product and customer service, you have to trust your courier not to undo your hard work.

You might not be able to control when deliveries arrived, but you can set customer expectations around the delivery. Your customers would be kept happy by under promising and over-delivering.

If you promise delivery within a few days, then ship everything overnight or priority, customers would be left with a significantly more favorable impression on your company. On the other hand, if you promise overnight delivery, and then there are delays, your customers may think negatively.

Excellent Customer Service Means Giving a Quick Response

One of the essential factors with effective customer service is speed. Responding quickly to your customers with their inquiries or complaints keeps them from moving their business to the competition since they expect and demand fast services.

A fast response is especially necessary for a customer sharing their bad experience. This would leave them with a good feeling and memory that overtakes any unpleasant incident. It would make them feel important.

The longer your representatives take to respond, the greater the chance you’ll lose your customer, but there will be times when a slow response couldn’t be helped. Sometimes, slow response is due to not having anything to tell, the lack of updates or changes to communicate.

Immediate request is not the only way to keep your customers happy but giving a timely response. Customers understand that orders could take time and some things cause delay. Sometimes a response to their inquiry is enough.

What Can You Do for Your Customers?

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So you want something from your customers? You want them to advocate for your company, to refer their friends to your products, to share your content online, and review your business on Yelp.

“Why should I?” is the question you should imagine them asking you.

If you want them to do something for you, you need to do something for them.

“But I already gave them my amazing product,” you say.

They paid you for that. They did what you asked. Transaction complete. If you want them to do something to help you, you need to do more than simply deliver what they expected. You need to go beyond their expectations.

Here’s how…

1) Proactively reach out to assist

Most companies work so hard to sell their products and then completely forget about the purchaser immediately after. We think that if they need our help, they’ll ask. But the truth is that most people won’t. They will suffer in silence because they don’t have the time, don’t know who to contact, or they will decide it’s easier just to switch to your competitor than deal with it.

You can exceed their expectations by reaching out to ask about their experience. Ask if they need help with anything. Ask how they have enjoyed your product or service. Did it solve their problems? Address their needs? If not, what can you do to make things better?

2) Give them a free upgrade

Let’s say you have just come out with a new model or have improved the service that you offer. Do you reward your customers by automatically giving them the latest and greatest version?

Perhaps this runs against your business model. Perhaps you rely on customer upgrades as a revenue source.

But offering a free upgrade is a surefire way to exceed their expectations and turn customers into advocates for your business. That might be even more valuable than them purchasing the upgrade.

3) Enroll them into a loyalty program

If you don’t already have a customer loyalty program, consider the opportunity to deliver added value to your customers. You might offer discounts on other products, exclusive offerings, news and information related to their interests, and more.

Getting invited to join a loyalty program provides incentive to continue to engage with your brand in a positive way.

4) Connect them with likeminded people

Many successful brands have built a community aspect into their customer experience. Think Apple, Harley Davidson, and Canon. These companies offer experiences that bring their fans together in the real world.

Customer communities become natural places for new ideas and innovation. By giving your customers access to one another, you help them solve their problems and generate critical feedback for the business.

5) Say thank you

It may sound corny to business-minded folks, but simple acts of gratitude will go a long way with your customers. Think about the brands that you interact with. How many take the time to thank you for your business, really thank you?

Saying thank you is a way to deliver a human touch to a monetary transaction, laying the groundwork to a relationship beyond that one purchase.

Achieving Consistency in Customer Service

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It is important for companies to consider the following alternatives when it comes to customer service. Is it better to…

A) Achieve a standard level of consistent, quality support using canned answers and clearly communicated policies that are always adhered to, or

B) Let each individual customer service team member have the freedom to win customer loyalty through whatever means necessary.

Effective arguments can be made for both options. Neither one is wrong, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to customer service.

But let me argue to for what I see as the natural progression that companies should aim for.

When a company is in the early stages – from startup through say 20 or so employees – it makes more sense to give customer service a little more freedom. Early on, it is better to focus on making everyone happy. Since you are still learning what kinds of issues your customer service team will be dealing with most frequently, you want to fully-incorporate their feedback into marketing and product development. Option B makes more sense than option A above.

But as you grow into a more efficient organization, and your business model stabilizes, and you aim for consistent growth, you will get to a point where it makes more sense to standardize the customer service role. At that point, you can use all the experience your service team has built up to create a set of policies to be adhered to. You can flesh out clear and effective answers to all of the most common questions they are likely to get, and aim for consistency.

This way, as the team grows, the time it takes to train new people diminishes. Your customers are likely to get the same answer, the same level of service, no matter who they talk to. For a larger company, this should be the goal.

Turn Bad Yelp Reviews into Good Yelp Reviews in 2 Easy Steps

A bad Yelp review is something most business owners and marketers see in their nightmares. There is nothing worse than working to carefully craft a positive brand image only to have it marred by one customer’s negative experiences.

But getting a bad review does not have to be as negative as we tend to think it is. In fact, we can take steps to turn it into a positive. How?

Step 1 = Respond and React

When you get a negative review, view in the light of “how did we wrong this customer, and how can we make her/him happy again?”

A negative review is always a bad thing. Someone had such a poor experience with your brand that they went out of their way to complain about it in public. So the first step is to respond to the person (publicly on Yelp and privately if possible). Find out what went wrong and offer to fix it. Go out of your way to make this person happy again.

Step 2 = Request a New Review

Yelp makes it easy for a reviewer to update an existing review. In fact, it is incredibly easy for any user to turn a past 1-star review into a 5-star review if they are so inclined.

After you have made your customer’s day by fixing their issue, ask if they might take one additional step and update their review. This will reflect positively on your in two ways. First, it will show those who check your Yelp page that you are active in responding to customer complaints. And second, it will add to your overall Yelp rating.