Improving relationships with your customers is a cornerstone of long-term sustained business success. In the modern business landscape, the customer experience is one of the most important aspects of customer loyalty and retention. If customers have great experiences, they will be more loyal and will spread positive word-of-mouth recommendations. On the flip side, if a customer has a negative experience, a simple social media post can instantly destroy a reputation. It’s important to offer the best customer experience possible, which means providing the best customer service that you can.
Whether you like it or not, if you interact at all with the customer, you are responsible for customer service. It doesn’t matter what department you work in – while interacting with your customers, you are (in their eyes) a representative of the company and your behavior can make or break their experience.
If you work with customers, follow these 5 strategies to elevate your level of customer service and help you provide the best possible service at all times.
Personalize the service
Have you ever emailed a complaint to a company only to receive a generic response that was automatically sent by a computer? Odds are, you felt frustrated and the response did not make you feel better about your situation. The only thing that’s worse is receiving a call from an associate who sounds as if they are reading off a script and not listening to you.
Never forget the story of Luka Apps. Luka was a 7-year-old boy who was missing a Lego piece. He wrote an email to Lego customer response. The reply that he got is one of the reasons Lego has one of the most loyal fanbases:
When interacting with a customer, don’t forget that these are real people with real feelings. Blowing a frustrated customer off with a generic response will only frustrate them further. Instead, empathize with their situation. If you were in their shoes, how would you want to be treated?
Attend a CX conference/training session
Surround yourself with professional trainers and business professionals who have mastered the science of customer experience. It’s the mark of true professionalism when someone is constantly trying to learn and improve. You don’t have to attend college either – attend a CX conference or a training session. By surrounding yourself with industry experts who are willing to help others, you’ll become more successful. For example, Customer Contact Week has an annual winter conference that is entirely focused on enhancing the customer experience with better service.
Ask for and use feedback
Customers hate to be ignored, especially when something is wrong. It’s important to customers to know that their opinion matters. Don’t call this cheesy either – if you truly care about the customer experience, you’ll want to listen to feedback and implement changes based on it.
For example, did you know Netflix was originally a mail-order video game rental company? After innovating and collaborating with customers, Netflix evolved into a TV & movie streaming service. Now, they have become their own production studio with Netflix original movies and shows (many of which are critically acclaimed and award-winning). They are constantly trying to improve the experience for their subscribers by innovating based on feedback, both good and bad. The result? Netflix is now one of the largest and most successful streaming companies in the world.
Although it sounds like a negative trait at first, over-communication is never really a bad thing. If someone is having an issue with a product, companies who promptly respond with a surplus of information can be seen as more helpful than companies who send vague responses. Customers hate to be in the dark – they want to know what’s going on. By consistently letting customers know the status of their unique situation, they will feel more in-the-loop and will be more comfortable.
The best example I have comes from personal experience. A few years back, my car broke down on the side of the road. It was towed to a nearby repair shop. I sat in that repair shop for a couple hours before I got a status update. The entire time, I was getting irritated that I didn’t know what was going on. I was getting anxious and frustrated. Although my car got fixed, I did not have a positive experience. Fast forward a few years later and my car breaks down again. I chose to have it towed to a different repair shop in town. This shop told me it would be awhile because they are backed up, let me use their courtesy car, and called me every 30 minutes with constant updates. I had a fantastic experience because I felt like I was part of the process and that they cared about me.
If my car ever breaks down again, who do you think I’ll be towing it to?
Go the extra mile, all the time
This brings us to the final point. Let’s say your goal is to provide a good customer experience. You can probably get away with providing a good level of customer service. If you are nice and do your job well, you will be satisfactory in the eyes of the customers. You’ll be good. As we know, however, good is the enemy of great.
If your goal is to provide a great customer experience, you must go above and beyond in all interactions, all the time. By providing great customer service, you will develop a reputation as someone who genuinely cares about their customers. The biggest companies in the world have all mastered this: Apple, Amazon, and Google are notable examples. A story that I’m again reminded of is the Lego story from above. Lego didn’t have to type out this creative letter as if it was written by a Lego piece. They could have easily replied with “Your Lego replacement is on the way.” But, because they chose to go the extra mile for this young customer, they not only earned a lifelong customer but also gained extremely positive PR once the story went viral.
The next decade will be the decade of the customer experience. Those individuals and companies who provide great customer service will be the successful ones. Take the above 5 strategies and apply them to your professional career. No matter what you do, you will see an improvement simply by being more customer-centric.
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