For the businesses we insure, quality customer service often translates into growth and stability. Poor service structure, on the flip side, yields unsatisfied customers that can damage the business’ reputation, deter growth and potentially bring rise to lawsuits and financial risk. These three pillars of service are powerful sources for customer satisfaction. A review of them may expose areas in your company where customer service could be improved.
Good customer service is really a relationship between two factors; The wants and needs of clients and the systems your business has in place to meet them.
A successful business needs to understand their customer’s needs. Businesses that are functioning at a loss may try to adjust a number of things before realizing that the issue is at the core…They don’t understand their customer’s wants or have failed to recognize when they have changed.
With a correct understanding of what your customer seeks, you can refine the following three “pillars of customer service” to improve your customer satisfaction.
1. Improve communication systems:
- Make sure your business’ contact information readily available both online and offline, to avoid customer frustration. Give them the information they need to contact you, with the frequency they need. On the flip side, you need a communication system in place that allows you to respond to clients with the punctuality they want.
- It’s important to clarify levels of communication that exist within your operation. If there are different departments that handle different aspects of service, don’t make customers go through the line-transfer-gauntlet. Proactively offer clear information on who to contact for the various needs your customer could have.
When appropriate, have a method for clients to communicate with supervisors. Have you ever ordered something online and opened the delivery to find pink leg-warmers that you (surely) didn’t order? Mistakes happen. The real insult as a customer is when a representative tells you there is nothing they can do to fix the mistake, and proceeds to dodge your requests to speak with a supervisor.
- Make sure you, in a management role, are available to communicate with customers. Make sure your team knows they can call upon management, without any repercussions, when a client feels that their concern requires greater attention.
2. Improve expectation-setting systems
In any industry, failure to meet expectations is a common reason for a customer to be unsatisfied with their experience. The more clarity you bring to the transaction, the better your customer service.
On the whole, good customer service is reliant on clients clearly understanding what they are receiving, the terms of payment, and any other conditions that apply to the transaction.
Businesses vary in major ways; From their operations to the laws and regulations that they function under. The insight we provide regarding setting customer expectations, is just a general idea of some standard practices used to meet customer expectations. For help creating or evaluating the documentation used in your venture, consult legal counsel.
- For the sale of goods, receipts are often used as proof of a transaction between the parties involved. It is common for a receipt to also contain the organization’s terms and conditions of sales. Defining your policy on things like warranties, legal liability and performance of goods will not only support a positive customer experience, but provide a record that may help your business in the event of a lawsuit.
- If you provide a service, it is a good idea to include a statement of work in your process. This document should be reviewed by all parties before agreeing to work together. The standard statement of work includes (but is not limited to) the scope of work, specifics regarding the location and timeline of services, deliverables, completion dates, penalties for failure to meet completion dates, and the terms for payment and billing.
Again, whether these items would adequately set expectations in your business should be determined by a legal professional who knows your business specifically. Hiring a lawyer for this aspect of operations can be a worthwhile investment.
3. Improve touch-point systems
A touch-point is the interaction a consumer has with your company. Touch-points that are well done have the power to improve a customer’s satisfaction in a way that builds long-term, brand loyal clients.
- To improve customer satisfaction via touch points, you have to start with your service team; the people facilitating the customer experience. Address their concerns, and listen to what they value. If you take care of the problems that stand in their way, you are directly improving their ability and desire to provide a positive experience for clients.
Then we look at what it means to improve the quality of these interactions or touch-points.
- One element is limiting the people who work on accounts. Having a single contact shows your investment to servicing them. It’s also easier for a client to build a relationship and trust with one representative, rather than a new contact every time. Trust fosters loyalty which translates into return customers.
- Be empathetic in all service tasks. This is probably the most important aspect of touch-points in creating a positive customer experience. Responding empathetically to a client means letting go of your personal views to understand and adopt their perspectives. Asking customers how their experience was and what you could do better, will proactively help you understand their perspective. It also shows that you are a humble and transparent business that values your customer’s voice. This article gives some great exercises to teach empathetic customer service to your team.
At its core, creating a thriving community of satisfied employees and clients comes down to the idea of reciprocity. If you show that you have someone‘s best interest in mind, they will be more inclined to act with your best interest in mind. If you make a genuine effort to listen to what people want and address those wants, they will feel valued and become brand-loyal customers.