Customer service goes a long way when it comes to growing and sustaining your company.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the old business saying “The customer is always right.”
Your customers are the lifelines of your business, and they need to be treated accordingly.
Whether you’ve been in business for 3 days or 30 years, you need to make your customers fall in love with you.
This concept holds true across all industries.
While good customer service can dramatically increase your revenue, poor customer service can be detrimental to your business.
Customer service starts at the top with you.
The owner needs to set the example and make sure all of the managers and employees follow suit.
As a result, the overall customer experience will improve.
Enhancing the customer experience will
- Improve customer retention
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Increase cross selling and upselling
These three concepts will ultimately increase revenue.
Why put so much emphasis on customer service and customer experience?
For starters, their money essentially keeps your lights on. Your customers pay for your salary, the wages of your employees, and all of your expenses.
Beyond that, customers are expensive to acquire in the first place.
The graph above shows the average cost to acquire customers across ten industries.
That’s the cost to acquire one customer.
Think about that for a second.
If you’re in the software industry and you want to acquire 100 new customers, these averages suggest that it will cost you just under $40,000.
Once you have a customer, you cannot afford to lose them.
Customer service is the key to getting customers to your door (or your website) and to making them come back.
I’ll explain everything you need to know about effective customer service strategies that can double your revenue.
First, understand the needs and wants of your customers
Understanding your customers is easier said than done.
If you don’t understand your customers, how can you properly meet their service needs?
These are the top challenges associated with customer service.
The research identified communication and coordination as the two main issues with customer service.
How can you combat these challenges?
Talk to your customers.
Customer interviews and customer surveys are both highly effective strategies to maintaining a strong customer service approach.
They each have their upsides and downsides.
For example, if you have a brick and mortar business, you have the option to conduct quick interviews while the customers are at your location.
These interviews about the customer experience help show the customers that you care.
This is a great visual representation displaying the importance of customer care.
Lack of care is by far the number one reason why customers are more likely to leave a business.
Talking to and engaging with your customers when you see them helps establish a relationship that they care about.
Studies show that employees only ask for the customer’s name 21% of the time.
Your business should aim for your employees to ask for the customer’s name 100% of the time.
While knowing your customers’ names is important to establish their trust and form relationships, an interview can really give them a positive experience.
Here are some things to keep in mind while you’re conducting a customer interview.
Make sure you recognize the value of their time.
Keep the interview short. Five minutes is a reasonable timeframe, so just make sure your customer is aware of this before you get started.
You also need to make it clear from the very beginning that you’re not trying to sell anything. You’re simply gathering information to enhance their experience.
Start by gathering as much information as you can about that specific customer. Ask things such as:
- How often they visit your location
- Where they live
- Roughly how much they spend each visit
Write everything down.
While you want the conversation to appear normal and natural, you need to be writing things down.
Taking notes is not only essential for interviews, but it’s an important life skill to master in order to be successful.
Use a clipboard and record all of their responses using shorthand and quick notes.
You can always re-write the information more neatly and more thoroughly when the interview is over.
If you have the customer’s permission, you can also record the interview and listen to their responses later.
It might be faster for you to type your notes while you listen to the recording.
Stay on topic.
Face-to-face conversations are great because you read the emotions and establish a rapport with the interviewee.
With that said, sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked.
Stick to your line of questioning while remaining as friendly and professional as possible.
Here’s something else to keep in mind while you’re interviewing customers. In general, people are too nice.
Most customers will just leave without complaining. So be aware that your interviewee may not be 100% truthful.
It’s possible that they could be withholding complaints.
Make sure your questions are open-ended.
Don’t ask multiple choice questions in an interview.
Try to end the interview with something along the lines of, “What question haven’t I asked?”
It shifts the focus if there’s a topic on the customer’s mind that hasn’t been brought up yet.
It’s also more effective and genuine as opposed to ending with, “Anything else?”
Offer your customer some incentives for their time.
You can give them:
- Gift cards
Putting something in their hand at the end of the interview helps you go the extra mile to increase their overall experience and satisfaction.
Incentives are a great way to ensure that the customer feels they are being treated properly.
It’s a method to compensate your customers for their time during an interview.
Besides interviews, you can also create surveys to get a better understanding of your customers’ wants and needs.
Surveys are ideal for ecommerce businesses and other companies with online platforms.
It’s not really practical or realistic for you to successfully interview your customers online, so surveys are a sufficient way to gain valuable information.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an effective survey.
Step #1: Select a platform like SurveyMonkey
There are plenty of ways to create surveys online.
For this entire example, I’ll show you how to use SurveyMonkey.
It’s basic and fairly easy to use.
You can make surveys for free on their platform or upgrade your membership to get additional benefits.
Some other popular options include:
These all have varying pricing options and upgrades based on your needs.
Step #2: Create an account
Create a username and password, and provide an email address that you want to have associated with your account.
For a fast signup, just sign in with your Gmail or Facebook account.
If you’re already logged in to those on your web browser, SurveyMonkey automatically creates your account in just one click.
For those of you that already have an account, just sign in to get started.
Step #3: Create a survey
Once you’re signed in, you’ll get brought to the dashboard page.
There are two options for you to get started.
Click “Design a survey” or “Create Survey.”
Step #4: Select a template
You can choose a template from the “Most Popular” page or look through “All Templates.”
If you have something in mind, use the search bar to narrow down the template choices.
Step #5: Navigate to the “Customer Feedback” options
The customer feedback templates have preset questions to help guide you through the process.
As you can see, there are specific options for customer service as well.
Once you select one of these templates, you can tweak the questions to fit your overall strategy for the survey.
Step #6: Customize your survey questions
The toolbar on the left side of your screen can help you select questions.
Survey Monkey has recommended questions based on the template that you selected.
Use this as a guide to give you a head start.
Step #7: Add Likert scales and comments
Not every question needs to have multiple choices.
Include some Likert scales and comment sections for your customers to type in more customized answers.
Step #8: Distribute the survey to your customers
Now that you’ve created a survey, you need to get it into the hands of your customers.
This is one of the best parts of SurveyMonkey’s software.
They have so many different options for you to select from.
According to this research, you can expect about 26% of your customers to respond to your survey questions.
While this number might be enough to provide valuable information, the higher you can get this response rate, the more accurate your information will be.
The best way to get the highest response rate is by selecting multiple distribution methods.
If you’re emailing your surveys, you can learn how to increase your email deliverability rates.
Analyze your results and make adjustments
Now that you’ve spent the time interviewing and surveying your customers, it’s time to go over the results.
Remember, our main goal here is to increase our customer service and overall customer experience to grow our revenue.
If you don’t adapt and change based on the information you gathered, your competition will steal your customers.
In fact, a recent report showed that organizations are using customer service and customer experience as their primary method to differentiate from the competition.
Nearly two times more B2C companies are focusing on enhancing their customer service rather than developing their products.
B2B companies also consider customer service as a priority over the quality of their products.
These numbers are intriguing, to say the least.
Is it a stretch to say that your competition would rather have an inferior product than poor customer service? Maybe.
But it’s not totally unreasonable.
If you’re in an industry where the margins for product quality are insignificant, your customer service will determine if the consumer buys from you or from your competitor.
The last thing you want to do is let your competition beat you to the punch.
You need to take control of your customer service strategies before it’s too late.
Let’s take a look at these numbers.
As I just mentioned, there are instances where the customer experience is more important than the quality of your product.
Over 40% of customers knowingly purchase inferior products if they love your brand!
Over two-thirds of customers are also willing to spend more money if they love your brand.
Let’s break this down even further.
Theoretically, you could put out a lower-quality product and charge more for it.
Without sacrificing too much quality, you can cut production costs and increase sales prices — if you have amazing customer service.
You can double your revenue!
That’s why it’s no surprise that companies believe that the customer service trend is superior to content marketing and mobile marketing.
These numbers are even more significant for businesses that operate on the Internet.
Consumers have much less patience when they are having problems with your website.
Refer back to your survey and interview results.
What did your customers say about their experience on your website?
If your customers can’t easily navigate and efficiently use your site, it’s a big problem.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is your mobile website.
Don’t think it matters? Think again.
Nearly everybody walking around has access to the Internet from a four-inch screen in their pockets.
These are the top issues that consumers encountered while visiting a mobile website.
If your mobile website is too difficult to navigate or takes too long to load, your customers will find another business to meet their needs.
It’s a growing trend as well.
75% of customers between the ages of 35 and 44 seek customer support via their mobile device more than once per month.
That’s not even the group with the highest percentage.
77% percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use their mobile device to seek customer support several times each month.
If a customer wants to know more about your company, what do you think they will do?
They will visit your website.
Over half of your customers will go to a competitor’s website if yours is having problems.
Do you remember what I said earlier?
You can’t afford to lose even one customer, never mind half!
The point is you can’t neglect the results from your customer surveys and interviews.
You need to analyze the data and make the necessary adjustments.
As a result, you’ll increase the overall customer experience.
Learn how to handle customer complaints
Your customers are going to complain.
If they do, you should consider yourself lucky.
We discussed a graphic earlier that showed only 1 out of 26 customers complained if they were not satisfied.
What about the other 25? They left without saying a word.
It’s vital that you handle these complaints with the right attitude.
Poor attitude is the number one reason that businesses lost their customers.
If they’re complaining, you haven’t lost them yet.
I know that you take pride in your business, and it can be hurtful when people complain.
Do not take this personally.
It’s part of doing business, and it’s bound to happen.
Even if you think the customer is out of line and you’re not at fault, remember the golden rule that we discussed earlier.
The customer is always right.
Your staff needs to know this as well. So it’s important that you train everyone properly to handle a disgruntled customer.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to properly dealing with a customer complaint.
Step #1: Listen to what they have to say.
Yelp reviews can be brutal.
Someone taking the time out of their day to bash your company on the Internet is not an easy pill to swallow.
While some customers may just be having a bad day or looking for an excuse to complain, it’s important to really listen to what they are saying.
At times, it can be tough to hear based on their tone or attitude.
Here’s an example of what we can take away from the one-star review above.
- Loud bar
- Slow wait staff
- Inappropriate television shows
- Weak drinks
- OK beer selection
All of these are reasonable comments, even though the customer’s tone was not the friendliest.
Instead of trying to justify these instances or make excuses, you can make adjustments moving forward.
Let customers know before they sit down that the bar is noisy, and you can offer them a seat in your dining area if they prefer a quiet meal.
Make sure your staff is properly trained to make drinks, attend to customers, and restrict the television channels.
Step #2: Apologize.
Surprisingly, research by the Nottingham School of Economics found that customers are more likely to withdraw a negative review if you apologize instead of offering compensation.
Most businesses may think that offering something for free would be an effective solution, but only 23% of customers changed their review after receiving compensation.
Almost half of customers responded well to “I’m sorry.”
See how easy that was?
An apology can go a long way.
Step #3: Offer a solution.
While many customers these days take their complaints to social media, it can be tough to resolve the issue when you don’t have their personal information.
So how can you try to make things right?
Offer a solution.
Look how FedEx handled an upset customer on Twitter:
What’s their solution?
Send us your information. It’s a great way to open up a more private line of communication with the customer.
Step #4: Follow up with the customer.
These numbers are staggering:
This is where you can really set yourself apart from your competition.
Over 90% of businesses do not follow up with a customer after they’ve resolved their complaint.
Chances are, this isn’t the first time this customer has complained to a business.
Based on these numbers, there is a high probability that this customer hasn’t received a follow-up call or message from another business after their issue was already resolved.
It’s your time to stand out from the crowd and your competition.
The customer will remember this moment, and it will enhance their overall experience.
All it takes is a simple phone call or message.
It’s well worth your time.
Customer service can make or break your business.
This holds true across all industries and all platforms.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small family business or a large corporation — customer service is king.
You need to make sure your customers have a great experience in your brick and mortar location as well as on your desktop and mobile website.
Furthermore, you need to offer appropriate customer service over the telephone.
Nearly 80% of customers want to have a phone conversation when interacting with customer service centers.
How do you provide amazing customer service?
Understand your customers’ wants and needs.
How do you accomplish this?
Conduct informational interviews and surveys with your customers.
Once you learn more about your customers, apply the information directly to your business to enhance the customer experience.
If you don’t do this, your competition will do it first and potentially steal your customers.
But if you stay ahead of the curve, you can be the one taking customers away from your competition.
Even if you have an inferior product, customers will still choose high-quality customer service over high-quality products.
How can that impact your bottom line?
Great customer service is inexpensive. It’s mostly attitude.
If you have amazing customer service, then you can lower other costs, increase customer retention, charge more for your products, and double your revenue.
What solution will you offer to the next customer who complains about your business?