6 Ways to Happier, More Loyal Customers (with Less Work)

6 Ways to Happier, More Loyal Customers (with Less Work)

It’s no secret that when you provide great customer service, it helps you win new business and keep current customers. But that can be tough to maintain as business grows—especially when you’re a solopreneur or running lean. But in today’s hypercompetitive world, few companies can afford to let customer service slip. Because doing so often results in lost business.

Customers value good service so much so that an Oracle study found 86 percent of customers would pay more for a better customer experience. On the flip side, 82 percent of customers report leaving companies because of bad service.

What customers want

Customers want speed and convenience delivered with a pleasant attitude. Do it well and they may reward you by spending more money with you. A study found good service entices 52 percent of B2C customers and 62 percent of B2B customers to increase their purchase.

Chart showing sales are driven by good customer experience

It makes sense that customers who are happy with a company will reciprocate by supporting that company more.

How much more?

Research published in the Harvard Business Review shows customers who have the best past experiences spend 140 percent more than customers who had the worst.

Better service saves you money

If you’re a subscription-based business, it could cost you less to deliver a great customer experience. Subscribers who give the lowest customer experience score usually subscribe for a year. Those who give the highest score usually stay an average of seven years. That’s a sizeable difference.

Chart showing customer experience drives membership

What about the common argument that improving customer service costs too much? Turns out, it’s a misconception.

Not only does better service lower return rates, it could also lower the cost to serve each customer. When Sprint committed to improving their customer experience, they dropped customer care costs by 33 percent.

By laying the right groundwork, any company can offer consistently fast, convenient, and polite service—even if you’re a solopreneur juggling a demanding business. Here are six ways to up your game without adding more stress, breaking the budget, or working longer days.

6 ways to improve customer service

1. Commit from the top

Customer service starts internally, from the top. Your customer experience should reflect the company’s brand and values. Commit to providing it, then set goals and give your team the resources they need. If you’re a one-person show for now, write the objectives down for future team members, so that service remains consistent. Other ways to prepare:

  • Set standards for how quickly customer service should respond to calls, emails, and social media posts.
  • Create processes for efficient resolutions through all channels.
  • Provide enough freedom and resources for customer service representatives to resolve issues with speed and quality.
  • No matter how big and busy you get, take a few calls from time to time. Customers will feel you really care, and you may learn a lot about them and how they see your company. CEOs including Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Steve Jobs are famous for personally answering customers directly.

2. Multiply efficiency with technology

Optimizing technology is especially important when you’re a solopreneur. A quick internet search will show a huge variety of programs to support nearly every phase of your customer experience from automating marketing to sales. You’ll find customer service solutions that can help any size company provide a high level of customer service that scales. These three types of programs can benefit nearly every business:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software: Customer service starts when you first connect with a prospect. But managing many potential customers as they move at different paces through the sales process requires a lot of detailed organization. CRMs automate the entire process. Programs like Hubspot and Infusionsoft help you keep track of prospect details, follow-up with them throughout the sales cycle, create ongoing customer engagement processes, and personalize the experience.
  • Customer service software: Once you have the customers, these programs help you support them. Programs like Zendesk include email, voice, and live chat options for answering help desk tickets, product inquiry calls, and so on. Some programs run on the cloud, so your customer service agents can work from anywhere—like their homes—and seem as if they’re just down the hall from you. Most customer service programs connect with popular CRMs to help keep sales and support on the same page.
  • Social media management tools:Tools like Hootsuite and Buzzsumo help you manage all of your social networks, schedule posts in advance, manage your online reputation, and more. One handy feature is the tool can alert you if someone’s talking about your company or products, so you can respond quickly.

3. Provide several support options

Remember, customers want answers quickly and conveniently—especially the tech savvy Millennials who make up 25 percent of the population. Offer customer support channels they prefer, such as chat, voice, and social media.

Also, make it easier for them to help themselves. Include an updated FAQ page or knowledge base, and post videos on your website and on YouTube. Videos are great for how-tos, showcasing features in product demos, and explaining complicated topics. It’s an efficient way to proactively address a lot of customers with commonly asked questions.

Software company Buffer takes a different spin on self-help. Rather than have an FAQ or knowledge base, the support team prefers customers to send a support email. This way, they know how many people have the issue and can prioritize elements to upgrade.

Another software company, GrooveHQ, takes customer service one step further by documenting the user who made a suggestion. When an update is made based on the user’s suggestion, GrooveHQ emails them directly to say it’s done. This has impressed users so much, it’s increased customer loyalty and helped the company win back past customers.

4. Make your website more user-friendly

This may seem obvious, but make sure your website is designed for easy use on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers. Many companies still run on outdated sites that don’t load quickly or navigate properly across devices people frequently use.

Make your site easy to navigate, so customers can find the information they need quickly. According to Google, if a page doesn’t load on mobile within three seconds or less, customers are likely to leave. If a site isn’t easy to use, then they are five times likely to leave.

Also pay attention to details that can improve a customer’s experience. For mobile sites, this may include larger buttons, less copy, and one-touch calling on phone numbers. If you have a shopping cart, make sure the ordering process is easy across all devices too. A Salesforce study shows nearly half of online shoppers will abandon their carts if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. Other areas to update may include streamlining checkout pages, showing personality in your thank-you page, and making autoresponders more helpful.

5. Surprise your customers

Many times, what customers remember—and talk about—most are the unexpected surprises. These can be divided into planned and unexpected “wows.” Planned wows are consistent, scalable ways that you can serve customers in a way no one else does. These are usually inexpensive, simple acts that can increase customer loyalty and spend.

Temporary tattoo company Tattly keeps drawers full of stickers and rubber stamps in its shipping department. Before each order goes out, workers can stamp and sticker each outer envelope any way they want. This personal and fun touch is so appreciated by customers, customers don’t just post pictures of their tattoos on social media—they post images of the envelope it was shipped in too.

Unlike planned wows, unexpected wows happen at the spur of the moment. Online retailer Zappos is famous for their unexpected wows. They’re known for upgrading shipments for free, reshipping orders at no cost, and other acts of unexpected kindness.

6. Delegate the right tasks

Some tasks may bog you down so much that they can be done more efficiently by someone else. If filling orders becomes cumbersome, consider fulfillment services like Shipwire or Amazon Fulfillment. They can print packing slips, package your product, and send it out for you. If you have special projects or need help during volume spikes, you may benefit by hiring freelancers. They could help you get product upgrades done sooner, respond to support tickets faster, and more. You can find professional talent from web developers to customer service agents through online marketplaces such as Upwork.

No one talks about companies who are just “meh”

If you’re still unsure how much to improve your customer service, here’s one last statistic to consider: Nearly every customer (95 percent) will share a bad customer service story. And nearly 9 out of 10 customers will share a positive one. Knowing they’ll probably share it on social media, what would you like your customers to say about you?

Improving your customer experience takes a bit of work upfront, but it’s worth the effort. With competition moving fast and furious, your service may be the main differentiator between you and the other guy.

Smart companies know this and continually create new ways to maintain fantastic service as they expand. One growing trend is scaling customer service using remote teams. If you’re ready to scale your customer service team, get the Upwork guide for practical tips from companies like Thumbtack, Tango.me, and Visual.ly. They share how they use remote teams to scale within budget and keep their customers happy.

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6 Ways to Happier, More Loyal Customers (with Less Work)
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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