Good customer service is what tells your customers you’ll be with them through thick and thin.
When the people who depend on your products have a problem, they go to customer service. The experience they have informs them – fairly or unfairly – whether they can rely on your brand.
Luckily, there are lots of ways for you to improve customer service. When you take time to do that, you reinforce the bond between your brand and your customers, promoting retention.
Sometimes, people fall out of love with an offering that once worked for them.
In general, though, customers who are doing well won’t make the switch unless a negative customer service event sours them on what you have to offer. When you improve customer service, everyone benefits.
Here’s how you can do it.
1. Have (and Onboard for) Customer Service Standards
Not everyone who joins your CSR team will have every skill you need. Make sure each member of the team gets a comprehensive onboarding experience.
This will ensure they learn faster, embody your values, and add joy to the customer service experience a heckuva lot sooner.
2. Define Metrics and Aim for Customer Service Improvement
What you don’t measure, you can’t improve. Luckily, customer service improvement brings its own entire vocabulary of relevant metrics. As always, it’s essential to steer clear of those shiny vanity metrics and pick the ones that matter most, not just the ones that are easy to compute!
3. Offer Customer Service Through Multiple Accessible Channels
Today’s consumers want to do customer service their way. To address their needs, make sure you offer service through live chat, support ticket, phone, and your audience’s favorite social media networks. Otherwise, they might find it too inconvenient to be worth their time.
4. Use Customer Service Software to Centralize All Relevant Data
What do you do with the data from all those different channels? It’s CRM to the rescue!
Your Customer Relationship Management suite should help you pull data from all service channels and centralize it. The data may look different, but the fundamental KPIs will be the same.
5. Hire for Great Customer Service and Reward it Across the Lifecycle
An upbeat attitude, active listening skills, and clear communication are absolute fundamentals for customer service success. Make sure you know exactly which skills, traits, and experience you want to recruit for. Then, recognize each team member’s successes – in absolute terms and personal improvement.
6. Empower Customer Service Agents to Solve the Problems They Get
Organize your team so every agent can tackle every problem they see with gusto.
If common problems require a lot of escalating and collaborating, customers feel frustrated and reps get exhausted. A flatter organizational structure empowers reps and leads to faster resolution.
7. Collect Genuine Customer Feedback to Improve Customer Service
In all improvement efforts, real customer comments should be your North Star. You can compare what customers are really saying to your CSRs’ self-evaluations to determine where the gap is. Then, coach on both the individual and the team level to strive for better results.
8. Make Training and Development Top Customer Service Priorities
The real key to growth is the same in customer service as anywhere else: Experience tempered with effective, timely training. Talent development should be a core priority. Not only will it help reps perform better, it’ll give them a path to career growth and boost retention of your best employees.
9. Follow Up After Customer Service Contacts
Lost somewhere in the gap between customer support and customer success is the idea someone should follow up and determine if a problem was actually solved. Don’t simply ask for a “star rating” and call it good: Verify that the customer is truly satisfied with the outcome.
10. Poke the Beehive ... Regularly
Think a low number of customer service contacts is a good sign? Think again: 90% of customers are non-complainers.
The majority will simply get up and leave one day. To prevent it, be sure customer retention is gently, politely prodding customers with a stick now and then. (Psst, that means ask for feedback!)
11. Aim for Customer Service Authenticity
Some elements of customer service are taken for granted when they really deserve a second look. One of these is the customer service script. Like training wheels, it should be discarded with experience. Examine your process for anything else that enhances speed but sounds impersonal.
12. Talk to Your Reps About Customer Service
As in sales, one-on-one mentoring can have a huge impact on customer service success. CSRs benefit tremendously from face-time with those who’ve been there. Encourage their feedback, too: They may have inside insights that will make everything a whole lot easier.
Have other tips to improve customer service? We’d love to hear your take below.