Customer service is non-negotiable for any business, but it’s more important today than ever before. Why? We’ve become an increasingly consumer-centric society. Customers expect personalized service, and if they don’t get it, they’ll likely tell a few hundred friends on social media before they go to one of your competitors.
Globally, 54 percent of all consumers say they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago (Microsoft). No matter how good your customer service is, there’s always room for improvement. There are so many reasons that small businesses fail, and your customer service shouldn’t be one of them. In fact, your service should be part of the reason you succeed.
Prioritize Customer Service
You have to make high-quality customer service a priority, both for you and your business. Be sure your customer service values and the way you choose to serve match the values of your business, and make sure all of your employees know this.
Examine Your Hiring Practices
In a 2018 article for Forbes magazine, customer service consultant Micah Solomon outlined a series of effective strategies for transforming customer service and customer experience. His recommendations included the close examination of job candidates to ensure they would deliver superior service (he elaborates on his philosophies in this 2017 article) and overhauling employee on boarding. Your customer-facing employees have enormous responsibility; they make your company’s first impression.
Train Your Employees
Even someone who’s worked in customer service for years can benefit from additional training. Make sure all of your employees are familiar with your customer service values and policies. Clear communication about service expectations will make sure employees are delivering the minimum level of customer service you require.
Technology can help improve the lives of both your customers and your employees, so be sure to use it for your advantage when it comes to customer service. Technology can help improve the quality, efficiency, and quantity of your customer service. Upgrading and incorporating more technology into your day-to-day duties can improve customer service. For instance, using an inventory management software solution can make it easier for employees to answer customers’ questions and requests because they can find information about your inventory — such as how many items are in stock or when you’re expected to get more in — more easily.
Ask for Feedback
Ask your customers for their honest feedback about the quality of your customer service. Take note of what they like, what they don’t, and use that information to improve.
Always look for ways to update and improve your customer service. Even without customer feedback, you can look at current practices or ask your employees’ opinions to get more information about the quality of your service. Strive to always be trying new things that could improve your customer service. For example, you could try using a new purchase order software system that has more features that streamline the ordering process, which can help you make sure you have plenty of items in stock and reduce the amount of time you and your employees spend doing administrative work.
Great customer service is uneconomical, according to Scott Leonard, author and founding partner of wealth management and investment advisory firm Navigoe, LLC. While we may strive to be as efficient as possible, customer service takes time. And the potential payoff of earning a customer’s loyalty is priceless. Make superior service a core philosophy that starts at the top and comes through every customer touchpoint. One of the smartest strategies for determining where you can raise the bar on your service is to ask your best resource – your customers. They can tell you what they like and dislike, and if they feel they’re being heard, they’re more likely to remain your customers for years to come.
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