A business is not a business without customers, and getting customers isn’t always an easy task. If you do manage to get initial customers, with so many other options for the customers to choose from, it can be an even bigger task to make them stay.
The quality of the customer service experience you provide for your customer can often outweigh the quality of the product/service you offer.
Nowadays people are looking for a company/business that makes them feel good and that they can trust, not only do business with. In achieving that kind of relationship with the between you and your customer, customer service plays a vital role. It is all about making the customer as comfortable and happy as possible. It is a way of building trust and brand loyalty and having customers be advocates for your brand. It is more than solving issues a customer might face, but also being able to meet their needs and expectations.
Customer service is everywhere. Anytime you are dealing with people in the public, those people are your customers and your job is to provide them with adequate help, assistance, and information. Many small businesses make a mistake of not seeing customer service as a resource that will help them establish and further grow their business, and they sacrifice it in order to use those financial resources in other areas like product development and marketing. But, for any business big or small, having good customer service should be a focal point. To make that a little easier for you, here are 10 best customer service tips for 2019.
1. Use the L.A.S.T. method
It’s a bit ironic that the first tip is called the “L.A.S.T.” method, but it is a good one, trust me.
The L.A.S.T. consists of 4 steps: Listen, Apologize, Solve and Thank.
All of the steps in this method are equally important and none can be left out, so let’s dive a bit deeper into what each one of them entails.
Listen – you need to listen to your customers in order to be able to understand their problems and what might be causing them. By genuinely listening to them, you are showing that you care and that helping them is what you are there for. Listening can sometimes be difficult, especially if the customer aggressively voices their issues, but even then, you should do your best to calm them down and understand their frustrations.
Apologize – Although sometimes you might not want to, you should always apologize and take the blame for any inconvenience your customer had. Whether it was truly a mistake on your part or something that was caused by the customer making a mistake, you should always say it was your fault by saying “I am sorry that you had a bad experience”.
Solve – Tell the customer you can fix the problem, and actually do everything in your power to do so. No one likes fakes promises especially unsatisfied customers.
Thank -Thank your customer for everything. For reporting the issue, for voicing their concerns, for having the patience to wait for the solution and for any feedback they provide you with.
2. Be personal
Nobody likes feeling like they are just a face in the crowd, we all like to feel like we are being individually cared for and listened to. In order to make your customers feel this way, you will have to be personal and build a connection. If you have a lot of customers, establishing a connection with each and every one of them is going to be difficult.
An easy way to connect to a customer is to find a personal link between you and use that as a foundation for a future relationship. Another thing you should do is match their energy or adapt your energy to theirs. Not every customer is the same, for example, some are more talkative others more reserved. You will need to approach them in a way most suited to them, which will make them feel like you understand them on a personal level. Also, let them know you are there for them, that anytime they want to reach out to the company regarding anything, you can be their communication channel.
3. Live up to the expectations
When a customer reaches out to you, it’s most likely for a reason not just to vent their frustrations on someone, although cases like that do happen.
Often solving an issue takes time. In those cases, you have to ask your customers to be patient and promise them that the issue will be solved.
When a customer has an issue, your job is to find a solution to it in the quickest way possible.
When making promises, be truthful, don’t give false information or promises, that will only aggravate the customer even more. If you say you will get back to them in an hour, do that. If you promise that someone will contact them, make sure that happens. If you say an issue will be fixed, use every available resource to fix it. By keeping your promises and living up to the expectations, you will build trust between you and the customer and let them know that your company is a reliable one.
4. Know your customers
Even though business is about making a profit, customer service is not. While talking to your customers your end goal shouldn’t only be making a sale, it should also be getting to know the customer and understanding their needs. That’s why you also need to be asking them questions, about them, their preferences, opinions, etc.
If you know the customers well enough, you can use that to figure out how to push them towards using your product and will help you during the development process of your future products since you will be able to anticipate their future needs. Also, it will help you to find better ways to present the benefits of your product to them. At the of the day, people are looking to use the benefits of the product, something that will fulfill their needs, not the actual product itself.
5. Have a positive attitude
How many times have you been turned off from a purchase because of the negative or uninterested attitude of the customer service/sales representative? At least once I can bet.
People often underestimate how much a smile and a positive attitude can affect the customer’s decisions, and how big of a role it plays when they are forming an opinion about your company.
Even when a customer doesn’t seem interested, being approached by someone radiating with positive energy can make the biggest difference. The positivity can be spread through more ways than just face to face interaction, it can and should also be spread through emails, newsletters, advertisements, any form of communication you have with your customer.
When it comes to problems, different people put more gravity on different problems. It won’t be a rare case that a customer has approached you with something that isn’t a real issue, or something so bizarre that it takes you some time just to understand it. Regardless of the situation, you have to empathize with the customer. When a customer feels like you have listened to them and understood where they are coming from, they will be more likely to accept a solution you offer them because they feel like you are doing everything in your power to help them.
7. Follow up
Each interaction matters, whether it was good or bad there is something to be learned from it. While you know what your opinion on the interaction is, unless you ask or they explicitly express it, you can’t know how the customer perceived it. For that reason, you have to follow up with every customer after every interaction in order to receive feedback which you can use to learn and grow from. But that isn’t the only benefit of following up with your customers, it also gives them the impression that you care, that they were more than just a one-time sale to you, and that their opinion matters.
Follow-ups can be done in a variety of ways. You can reach out to the customers through phone calls, emails, questionnaires or drip campaigns.
A drip campaign is a subtle way for your company to stay in the mind of the customers by sending the occasional coupon, discount, newsletter, or something similar.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should follow up with all your customers, satisfied and dissatisfied once. The opinions of the dissatisfied ones my draw your attention to mistakes in your business you might be making unknowingly.
8. Respect your customer service employees
Let’s be honest, customer service isn’t the easiest job and can’t be done properly by just anybody. It requires great people skills, empathy, patience, and problem-solving skills. People working in customer service are contacted by a big number of people every day and are not always being treated with respect by them. To be able to endure that every day, you will have to recognize the effort your customer service employees are making.
Reward your hardest-working employees and that will not only motivate them but the other employees around them. They will feel more appreciated and respected and will make them more interested in getting valuable feedback from the customers in order to do their job more efficiently.
9. Tackle issues before they happen
Every business has its hiccups, no matter how good your product or service might be or how well you studied your consumer base, a problem will eventually arise. A thing that will make you solve those problems easier is if you tackle them before they happen.
Evaluate the future risks and issues you might encounter and develop a strategy to solve them in case they do happen.
This will give your customers the impression that you are well-prepared and very quick and capable of coming up with a solution.
10. Take care of your clients even when they aren’t aware of it
In customer service, your main job is helping the customers, that is expected from you. But, going the extra mile isn’t. Showing personal acts of kindness to your customers when they are least expecting it will show them that you do genuinely appreciate them choosing your company to do business among the sea of other options and that you truly do value having them as a customer and/or user of your service.
Hopefully, you can use some if not all of these tips in your customer service practices. Improving those practices should be a constant goal of any business because no matter how good you are there is always room for improvement. By the customer service aspect of their business, many companies fail, and those who focus do on providing exceptional customer service outperform significantly the ones that don’t.
A good customer service experience will make your company memorable to a client and could possibly turn them from a casual shopper to a loyal brand advocate. People are quick to forget a product, but not so quick to forget the way you treated them. Even if your product didn’t turn out to be the right option for them, it might be the right option for someone they know and believe me after having a good experience with you they won’t hesitate to recommend your company to anyone.
The magic of customer service is that if you truly dedicate time and effort into making it great it will pay back in a major way, bringing back much more than you invested in it and making sales happen virtually on their own.