How to Improve Your Business’s Customer Service

Customers who have all their needs met are more likely to be repeat customers and promote your business. In this guide, we’ll take a look at what creates a great customer experience and provide a few tips on how you can upgrade your own business’s customer service, ultimately helping to increase customer retention and your bottom line.

How do you improve customer service?

A customer’s experience with your business is a journey. It’s up to your team to make sure that every encounter a customer has with your company is memorable, humanizing, and satisfying.

Now, let’s look into some customer service tips that could help improve your company’s customer service, secure repeat business, and possibly increase profits.

Train your customer service team

Give your customer service team the right tools to handle any customer scenario. Hold in-person company training events or have team members take online courses.

Create customer service training documents so that team members have easy reference to consistent and comprehensive information they might need when interacting with customers. This might include a training FAQ that covers common scenarios and how to address the issue, such as an irate customer wanting to return a product without a receipt. It may also provide specific dos and don’ts of interacting with customers depending on the communication channel. For example, customer service reps might be allowed to be a bit more casual over social media but more formal when talking with customers over the phone.

Another way to provide training is to help your team develop their customer service skills.

Customer service skills

Customer service agents need the skills to deal with a variety of customers. While team members need a technical knowledge base, they also need soft skills. They must commit to customer satisfaction and be willing to work through complex problems.

Some examples of customer service skills include:

  • Patience: Some issues require more attention than others, and some customers might be more difficult than others. Customer service representatives must be able to keep their cool.
  • Flexibility: Your team should be able to come up with creative solutions to unexpected challenges.
  • The ability to go the extra mile: Customer service agents should proactively try to solve customers’ problems or check up after a call.
  • Hardworking: Not every issue has an easy fix. Great customer service teams need the drive to solve complex customer issues.
  • Knowledgeable: Product knowledge is essential. Your team can’t answer customer questions if they don’t know about your products or services.
  • Customer-focused: Good customer service is centered around the customer. Representatives need to listen to their customers closely, be attentive to their needs, and make them feel comfortable.

Develop customer relationships

Building relationships isn’t easy. Your team members will need to go out of their way to make customers feel special. Reach out often to get feedback from your best customers or just to say thank you. Address customers by name if possible and send handwritten notes to show you care.

A good customer relationship management (CRM) platform remembers contact information and every interaction with a customer. Use this data to send personalized messages or alert customers to sales that they might be interested in. For example, if you own a restaurant, you might send a customer a coupon for a free dessert on their birthday.

To ensure your team is developing customer relationships effectively, they need to understand the most opportune times to interact with customers. This is where knowing customer touchpoints can help.

Customer touchpoints

There are a few distinct times that customers interact with your business. Have a strategy to improve the customer’s experience in every stage of their buyer’s journey.

  • Pre-purchase: The customer is learning about your product. Give them adequate information. Send emails, brochures, or have face-to-face conversations.
  • Purchase: Make a customer feel comfortable buying from you. Money-back guarantees and free trial periods can make a customer feel more secure in their purchase.
  • Post-purchase: Proactively reach out to customers to make sure they’re happy with their purchase. This makes them feel valued.

Audit and review

Keep a close eye on how your team works with customers to see what’s working and catch poor customer service. Keeping track of customer reviews on sites like Yelp and Google My Business can give you insight into your business, but people typically only leave reviews for incredible service or, more often, terrible service. To get a more nuanced picture, record some interactions.

Companies like Talkdesk or CallShaper can help you record calls to go over with your support reps. Tools like EmailAnalytics and Yesware are great for email monitoring. If you are recording calls and emails, you should let your team know beforehand.

Review and pivot your customer service strategy

Customer service isn’t only the responsibility of customer-facing team members. It should be a companywide responsibility. Therefore, you need a strategy to satisfy new customers and existing ones.

  • Take charge: Make it easy for your customers to find answers before they have to approach you. Display useful information on your webpage and social media pages. Create and publish blog posts. Help people understand your service.
  • Indulge on your customer: Make your customers feel special and important. Make sure that a particular customer service representative always handles particular customers. Set up special events that your customers enjoy to thank them.
  • Help customers connect with each other: Group chats, trade shows, and webinars help customers bond over your products or services. A community of people with a shared interest will promote customer loyalty.

The best way to evaluate your company’s strategy is to measure customer service key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business. Poor scores in these metrics may signal that your customer service strategy needs an overhaul.

How to evaluate if you need to revamp your strategy

Here are a few KPIs that you should pay attention to. Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. What’s considered a “good score” for any KPI depends on factors like the industry you work in and the size of your business.

  • Customer satisfaction score (CSAT). Your CSAT score represents the culmination of an average customer’s experience with your business. Create surveys to measure how satisfied your customers are after each interaction with your company.
  • Customer effort score (CES). Your CES score shows how simple it is for customers to do business with you. If it’s difficult to buy from you, many consumers won’t.
  • Net promoter score (NPS). Your NPS score lets you know the odds that a customer will recommend you to their social circle. A lot of consumers will believe customer referrals more quickly than advertisements.
  • Customer retention rate. Your customer retention rate measures how many customers your company keeps throughout the year. It’s much more costly to get new customers than it is to sell to existing ones.

Improve your team’s availability

Improving your team’s availability means having multichannel or even omnichannel support. Multichannel support means having a wide array of contact options available (such as Facebook Messenger, email, or a phone number). Omnichannel means using a tool like Zendesk to seamlessly bring a customer conversation from one channel to another.

Customers want to be replied to the same way they contact you (unless they state otherwise). Different platforms require different response speeds. If a customer contacts you by Twitter, they might want an answer within the hour, but a customer who leaves a phone message may be fine waiting a day.

Some customers like to find their own information. Set up an FAQ section on your website. Use software like phpBB to set up forums where users can share information. Create chatbots to answer queries over social media in real time with programs like ChatBot. However, if you go this route, make it easy for customers to access a real person.

It’s important to understand, though, that how and when you respond to customers depends on the type of customer interaction.

Types of customer interactions

Your goal for a customer service encounter is heavily influenced by the type of interaction. An effective team needs a game plan to handle every kind of interaction.

There are three primary types of customer interactions that your team should understand to drive customer behavior:

  • Stabilizing: Before your customer buys from you, focus on educating them and managing their expectations. They’re not quite invested, and there’s a high risk they won’t buy from you.
  • Critical: These types of interactions are important since they shape a customer’s opinion of you. When there are customer complaints, questions, or unusual requests, you can strengthen your relationship with the customer or worsen it.
  • Planned: Changes in a customer’s life can help you market to them. For example, if your insurance customer has a child, you might reach out to see if they need expanded coverage. These should be relevant and personal, though.

Follow up

After any contact with a customer, follow up with them. If everything’s working, thank them. If it isn’t, see how you can help. Either way, the customer will appreciate your continued care.

You should check up on your customer fairly quickly but not right away. For example, if you’ve resolved a software issue, give the customer a few days to see if the problem arises again. However, if you wait longer than a week, the customer could feel neglected.

Provide an opportunity for customer feedback

Every customer interaction is an opportunity for your customer service team to improve. But you can’t improve unless you know how your customers feel about doing business with you. Customer feedback helps you identify weak areas in your customer service and improve them to meet customer needs more efficiently.

How to collect customer feedback

Unless their experience has been extremely out of the ordinary, most customers won’t take the time to give you constructive feedback. It’s up to you to reach out to them to see what they think of your customer service. Here are a few ways you can collect feedback.

  • Post-call phone survey: Phone surveys request feedback with a personal touch. Schedule a time to call your customer. Let them know you aim to improve your business for them but that the survey is optional. You can also conduct these at the end of the service call.
  • Email survey: Keep this type of survey brief and only send it out at particular times, like after a sale or at certain times during the year (monthly, quarterly, or yearly).
  • Contact form: Contact forms embedded on your website let customers share their opinions and concerns with your business at their own convenience.

Meeting all of a customers’ needs requires dedication, skill, and hard work. But if your team can master all aspects of customer service, you’ll build a customer base that people love being part of. It all starts with finding the right customer service representatives with the right personalities and skills.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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How to Improve Your Business’s Customer Service
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