Great customer service has your order ready for you when you walk in, greets you by your first name, and gives you a friendly smile when you leave. It makes previous, current, and potential customers feel good when they think about you. Unfortunately, the personal interaction necessary for great customer service is severely limited to ecommerce and web-based businesses that continue to grow. But although the web makes customer service harder to focus on, this doesn’t mean you should abandon it! The following five tactics will help you take your customer service, and your entire business, to the next level.
To understand why you should focus on customer service, it’s important to first understand its 3 key benefits. These benefits will effectively help your business achieve its marketing, customer volume, and revenue goals you’ve set:
3 Key Benefits of Great Customer Service
1. Earned Media: Providing a good customer experience will give you some presentable and potentially press-worthy testimonials. Step this up a notch! Providing a great customer experience will also give you press-worthy testimonials from respected people, unsolicited praise from people’s personal blogs and presentations, and inbound links.
2. Customer Retention: In the world of business, customers are kings and queens, and they should be treated accordingly. As a business, your customers are your most valuable assets. They are the ones taking a risk on your product or service, and they are the ones driving your revenue numbers. Focusing on customer service can greatly increase your resell, cross-sell, and up-sell opportunities. In fact, the Harvard Business Review even found that “when MBNA America, a Delaware-based credit card company, cut its 10% defection rate in half, profits rose a whopping 125%.”
3. Referral Business: When customers are publicly praising you and sticking around for a while, everyone in their network will start to notice you as well. This gives you the opportunity to earn new business from your current customers' networks. The beauty here is that when you continue to deliver solid customer experiences, your entire customer base’s network will grow with it, driving potentially exponential customer growth to your business.
As every successful business person knows, theory is great, but action is better. Here are 5 tactical ways to improve your brand’s customer service...
5 Ways to Improve Customer Service
1. Open additional lines of communication to make you easily accessible.
Far too often, people become frustrated with their vendors due to a lack of communication channels. Email’s just one channel, but some people are more comfortable talking on the phone or through social channels.
A simple and easy way to start focusing on customer service is by opening additional lines of communication with your audience. This can be as simple as adding your phone number and address to your website or mentioning your Twitter username in your email signature. But more importantly, there should be a human at the end of each of these channels. Unanswered tweets and voicemails are not a good way to maintain your customers' happiness. Providing high-touch, human-based contact options to all of your customers is just good customer service.
2. Nurture your audience to push helpful content directly to your leads and customers.
Sometimes, customers don’t want to talk to anyone at all – instead, they’d rather figure out how to use your platform or product by themselves. Google AdWords bets heavily on this, as they provide a ton of helpful content waiting for customers to find all by themselves. Here are some additional ways to push content directly to your audience:
- Nurture Drip/Flow Campaigns: With a good lead nurturing platform, you’re able to send emails to your prospects based on the actions they’ve taken on your site. Do you have a prospect spending more time than usual on your product's pricing page? A lead nurturing platform can send an automated note to this person, offering your help or sending them more product-specific content.
- Retargeting: This technology, also known as remarketing, serves ads to everyone who leaves your website without converting. Incorporating this into a customer service initiative works by modifying your ad’s messaging to promote your latest piece of helpful content or more insight into a product or element on your website that your prospects may have bounced from.
- Newsletters/Content: Like AdWords does, having helpful content available for your customers is a good customer service tactic. But there are more ways to make your content available above and beyond lead nurturing and retargeting campaigns. Creating readily available whitepapers, having content newsletters, and making informational webinars available to your audience can further help you distribute your content to the right people.
3. Send handwritten notes to make you stand out to your customers.
When was the last time you received a handwritten note? If you received a letter from a handwritten envelope, wouldn’t you open it? Handwritten letters work because they’re used much less today than ever before. Additionally, they let the recipient know that you care. I personally use handwritten notes to thank every single person who has provided any amount of help to me. I also don’t receive too many of them myself, but LinkedIn recently sent me one, and I was sure to open and read it.
4. Leave thankful voicemails as a quick way to let your customers know you care.
When you’re building a business, you tend to become way too busy for your own good. Handwritten notes seem like a good idea, but they can take a bit of time to write, and you can easily forget to write them. This is where the voicemail comes in handy. Like handwritten notes, most people check all of their voicemail, and leaving a quick voicemail just to thank someone is often appreciated.
Here’s a framework for a quick (fewer than 20 seconds) voicemail:
“Hi [name]. This is [my name] over at [my company]. I was just thinking about all of the great people I get to work with, and I wanted to thank you for all of your help. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me if I can ever be helpful to you.”
This is something I should do a bit more of. I’ll go leave a few right now, and you should too.
5. Refer complementary products to display your expertise and keep you top of mind.
As much as you’d like it to, your business sometimes won’t be able to provide all of the industry services needed to make it all-inclusive. With that said, sometimes your product isn’t the perfect fit for your prospects or customers, which can leave you in a hairy situation. If you know of another service that may be a better fit or can complement the products/services you provide, you’re better off referring these customers to it, even if the company is a competitor.
While it may sound crazy to give your competitors new business, the individuals you referred to them will remember what you did, and when someone in their network who is a good fit is looking for a service similar to yours, they'll be more inclined to refer that person to you. Additionally, it’s always good to keep communication lines open with a prospect that you referred to a competitor. You’re the industry expert, so providing your additional expertise to a competitor’s customer could very much help you in the long run.
Businesses should be built around customer experience. But it’s easy to forget its importance as you build your brand’s web presence. These five tactics will help improve your customer experience and build a business generation engine around customer service.
Have you tried any of these tactics? How have they worked? What have you done to improve your customers' experience?
Image Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt