Customer service is the make-or-break component of any business. Even if a business has excellent products, low rates, and impressive marketing campaigns, consumers will not become repeat customers if they feel as if they experienced poor customer service.
Even if you feel that your business already provides excellent customer service, there is always room for improvement. Here are six ways you can go above and beyond for your customers.
1. Hire a Virtual Receptionist
Using a virtual answering service is a great way to accommodate your customers, especially if you have a busy phone line. If your customers call you, you do not want to leave them waiting with a generic automated voicemail message or annoying elevator music. Instead, let them talk to an actual human being. An off-site receptionist will be able to process orders, schedule appointments, field after-hours calls, dismiss scam calls, and patch urgent calls directly to you or the appropriate employee. If your client base speaks a variety of languages, you can even request a multilingual receptionist who can communicate with all your customers.
2. Enable Feedback and Implement Criticism
To better serve your customers, you need to know what they are thinking. If you do not yet have a testimonial or review section on your website, you should add one. Encourage your customers to leave candid and honest reviews. The positive ones will build consumer trust in your business, and the negative ones will show you where you can improve. Both are valuable.
3. Be Available
An automated answering service will ensure you are always available for your customers. Customers should be able to reach out to you if they have comments or concerns. Try to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Have a business phone number and a dedicated employee who can answer calls as soon as they come in.
In addition, have a business email address for customers who prefer to communicate via text rather than speech. If you have social media accounts, consider hiring a public relations specialist who can manage them both as a marketing tool and as an engagement platform.
4. Be Accessible
Not only should you be accessible in terms of reachability, but you should also strive to be as accessible as possible to people with disabilities. Accessible customer service can take multiple forms. For example, to make your website easier to navigate for those with visual impairments, you should consider using clean, large, easy-to-read fonts that easily contrast with background colors and images; you should also make your website screen-reader friendly.
To accommodate those who are deaf or hard of hearing, you should caption all videos on your website; this may also make it easier for people who primarily speak other languages to understand streaming content.
5. Practice Active Listening
Listening is a skill. When speaking to an individual customer, strive to make them feel as if they are the top priority at that moment. Focus your attention entirely upon them, ignoring external distractions like phone calls and cell phone alerts. Do not interrupt the customer, even if you feel like you have information to contribute; on the other hand, only speak to ask guiding questions or to clarify your understanding of what the customer is saying.
Pay attention to verbal cues, such as volume and tone, as well as physical cues, such as eye contact and body language. If the issue the customer is concerned about can only be resolved later, assure them that you will follow up with them as soon as possible.
Note that if a customer becomes belligerent or starts using abusive language, it is acceptable for you to step back and remove yourself from the situation. While you as the professional should always maintain a calm and collected demeanor, your safety is more important than any business issue.
6. Be Personal
Your customers would rather interact with a human than an automated bot. When speaking to customers – especially regulars – address them by their names. Research shows that when a person hears their own name, the neural networks in their brain activate in unique, positive ways. Additionally, when you send messages via email or snail mail, use their actual name rather than a generic title, such as “valued customer” or “current resident”.
How you treat your customers will determine the long-term success of your business. Always strive to provide sterling customer service. After all, without your customers, you would not have a business. They are your most important asset.