Customer service is defined simply as “guidance or advice given by a company to those that buy their products or services.” This sounds straightforward but if you’ve ever worked in customer service, you know it’s much more than this.
It’s one thing to provide basic customer service to someone. It’s another to actually care about the customer’s satisfaction and overall experience. Especially in our increasingly digital world, a single incidence of poor customer service can result in severe backlash and a damaged reputation.
So, what does it look like to provide excellent customer service?
To answer this question, you must look at the process from start to finish, not just at the customers who have already spent money.
Regardless of the inquiry, you should make it a priority to respond to customers as fast as possible. This includes paid customers reporting issues and potential customers asking questions.
Being put on hold or waiting days for a response is one of the largest sources of frustration for many. This is why you must create an efficient, streamlined process for responding to customers - be it over email or answering phone calls.
Aim to respond to emails within 24 hours. Any longer than this and customers often become agitated.
There’s nothing worse than being treated poorly or spoken down to by customer service. Do not discount the importance of being kind and polite, even to someone particularly irate.
Consistently positive and professional exchanges are the result of hiring the right people and then training them properly.
If you realize you’ve made a real mistake, own up to it. Don’t make excuses or try to explain it away - your customers will see right through this. Take the appropriate responsibility and offer a genuine apology.
Then, fix the mistake even if it means taking a loss or going out of your way.
Sometimes, you need to make things right in this way even if the mistake isn’t yours. A prime example is replacing packages that were lost in the mail or stolen after being delivered.
This is never a company’s fault, but by replacing the lost products you’ll have a happy customer. These people will not only return to you later but they’ll tell their friends about the amazing treatment they got.
Commit to Resolution
Lastly, never leave a customer hanging without a satisfactory resolution. Cut and paste answers might work for basic questions or as an initial response, but you can’t send it off and call it a day.
Even if it means long phone calls or many emails, you can’t give up without resolving the issue or providing an accurate answer.
If you find that you and/or your customer service reps aren’t able to resolve things effectively, perhaps further education or training is required.
Stand Out From the Crowd
By implementing these four concepts, you’ll soon build a solid reputation as an attentive and compassionate company. Word of mouth is powerful and a company’s customer service practices - whether excellent or terrible - soon become their identifier.