15 tips for improving customer service
If you run a business its easy to get caught up in meeting deadlines and budgets and trying to find new customers.
With customer service now the differentiator between brands and customers tolerance levels for poor service rapidly declining, sometimes you just need to take a step back and look at the customer experience from a different lens.
Of course, determining what’s right for your business is ultimately the best approach, but this list is a great starting point for improving customer service for most businesses.
So whether you manage the call centre, customer service teams, the website or the marketing team the list below serves as a good checklist!
15 tips for improving customer service
1. Are you easy to use? You won’t know until you try
Try your own website without your auto-login. Is it easy? Or a pain? Come in the front door and see if the door swings open easily, or whacks you on the shoulder. And so forth.
2. Do you offer self-service options for your customers?
Many customers want them today: unless you’re open 24/7 or at least all conceivable business hours in all time zones in which you have customers, you need such options.
And even if you are open round the clock, many times customers today just want to handle it, or at least be able to check up on it, themselves.
3. Do your self-service options include escape hatches?
For when the self-service isnt working or the customer isnt in the moodthere should be an easy way out, to reach a human. Make it obvious, like hitting O on the phone.
4. Do your customers have to ask you to answer questions for which the answer should be obvious?
Customers dont like to be burdened to contact you for items that could easily be provided for them on a self-service basis.
Do your FAQs actually include the questions that customers want the answers to? Or were they written six years ago by your web developer?
Do they get an auto-confirmation when they order or do they need to call to ensure their order wasnt lost in the ether? And so on.
Are you considerate of your customers time? This is a big, big, big one. A perfect product or service delivered late is a defect.
6. Commit to continuous customer service education
Education is an investment in organisational development.
7. Define a simple service recovery process
Things will go wrong. Either objectively (whatever that means) or in the eyes of your customer. Either way, you need a plan. Consider my ARFFD approach, for example.
8. Fight actively every single day, every single shift against getting in a rut
The principle of hedonic adaptation means that your hundredth day on the job, naturally will not be as intenseas exciting, stressful, and so forth as the first day.
This is good to some extent, but it means that you have to actively strive to remember that this same day is the first interaction your customer has had with your company, and you need to keep your attitude fresh to match theirs.
9. First impressions matter
Walk up to, and into, your establishment with the eye of a customer.
A customer perception is his reality, and a first impression is important because it tends to linger in a customers memory.
Ditto if that first interaction is on the phone, via chat, or via mobile.
10. Impressions before the first impression matter
Of course, there is no before the first impression. But the first impression is very likely happening before you realise it: how youre portrayed online, how your grounds look well before the front door.
Disney even obsesses over the route to their parks for this reason.
11. Last impressions matter
Its so easy when youve completed an interaction with or project for a customer, to rush on to the next one with the next customer.
Doing so can erase all the goodwill you created.
The goodbye is an important stage, one of the most important, because (like a first impression) it tends to linger in a customers memory.
12. Reward and Recognise
Acknowledge the contributions of individuals and teams with formal and informal recognition.
13…But dont think that’s why they’re working for you
Incentives for your contact centre employees cant replace the general value of hiring people who like people, and treating those people every single day like the professionals who they are.
14. Benchmark outside your industry
If you sell furniture, dont just benchmark other players in the furniture industry to figure out how fast, easy to use, nice your company should be.
Your customers expectations for manners, timeliness, quality come as much from Starbucks, Apple, and other great consumer brands as they do from the others in your particular field.
15. Commit to continuous improvement
Ask yourself at the end of the day, What is the thing Im going to do tomorrow to make my team better?