Businesses don't start out thinking that they want to offer so-so customer service. However, it's easy over time to accept mediocrity as the norm and let your service standards slip.
Consumers are increasingly using customer experience to differentiate between brands. That means they judge businesses based on how satisfying every interaction is – even more so than on product or price. And, as the chart outlines below, customer experience plays a major role in purchase decisions made around the world.
If the quality of your customer experience is slipping, then it may be time to refresh your company's customer service strategy. In this post, we'll explain when you should re-evaluate your strategies as well as what you can do to boost your customer experience.
Signs That Your Customer Service Strategy Needs a Refresh
The first step to solving any problem is to recognize that you have one. It's vital, too, not to implement any solution where there isn't a problem. You may end up making changes that were never needed in the first place. To satisfy both ends, you should know how to assess your current strategy's health.
If you want to know if your customer service strategy needs a refresh, there are a few avenues to explore.
1. Customer Churn Rate
There are some occasions when it will be painfully apparent that your customer service isn't up to par. In short, you'll find that consumers will vote with their wallets if your customer experience doesn't measure up. Customers have more choice today than ever before and it's never been easier to switch brands at a moment's notice. So, if your churn rate is suddenly rising and your customer base is dwindling, then you may need to rethink your service strategy.
2. Negative Customer Feedback
Today's consumers aren't rushing back to brands after they have a poor experience. Instead, third-party review sites and social networks give people platforms to share their frustrations. And, as the graph indicates below, people are more likely to leave reviews after negative experiences than after positive ones.
Receiving negative feedback isn't fun for any business and it can take a toll on your customer acquisition as well. But, it's important to take notice of third-party and social media feedback as it's critical to analyzing your customer service strategy. If you're getting widely criticized for poor service, then it's definitely time to refresh your approach.
3. Customer Satisfaction Metrics
No one can provide better insight into your customer service than those who receive it firsthand. Fortunately, there are loads of ways of measuring your customers' satisfaction, including:
- Post-purchase surveys
- Brand-related conversations on social media
- Net Promoter Scores (NPS)
- One-to-one chats with the client
The best avenues to explore will depend on your company. But, actively surveying and monitoring customer satisfaction will help you learn when your service strategy needs a shakeup.
4. Employee Feedback
When it comes to customer service, your frontline reps are your boots on the ground. They have as good an understanding of the day-to-day operations of your company as anyone else, which makes them a valuable resource to leverage when you're looking for actionable feedback.
To find out if it's time to for a refresh, ask your team some key questions:
- How quickly are you able to solve customers' problems?
- Do lots of people contact you with the same issues?
- Do you get complaints about some customer service channels being missing?
- What issues with the business's current strategy do you encounter day-to-day?
- Do you feel adequately equipped to serve every customer as well as possible?
The answers to those questions should help make it clear if your present strategy is falling short. Your teams' responses will also give you some ideas about the kinds of improvements you may need to make — we'll dive more into this later in the post.
5. Industry Trends
Sometimes it's not that your business is doing something wrong, but rather your customers' needs are changing. What might have worked in the past may no longer be effective with your customer base, and you may need to shift your strategies based on the broader trends occurring in your marketplace. If you can predict the next big trend in your industry, you can adopt a strategy to put you ahead of your competitors.
You should be looking for and following broader trends both within your niche and outside it. A good place to start is researching what superior customer service looks like at other businesses around the world. Doing so can give you an idea of how you can adapt your current strategies to create a more unique customer service offer.
Now that you've reviewed customer data, reached out to customers and staff, and kept up with industry trends, you should have a good idea of whether or not your customer service strategy needs an update. The question now becomes, how?
Fortunately, we've come up with some tips in the section below that you can use to revamp the customer service strategy at your business.
Tips for Refreshing Your Customer Service Strategy
There's no one-size-fits-all approach. The best strategy to adopt depends on your niche, business, and – most crucially – your customers. The following, though, are some straightforward tips to help you on your way.
Focus on Being Customer-Centric.
Businesses that keep their customers at the heart of all they do, tend to be more successful. That's especially true when it comes to offering superior customer service. After all, being "customer-centric" means you've built a strategy that revolves around the needs and desires of your customers.
When you're thinking about making changes, it's important to lead with a customer-first mindset. Ask yourself, "how will this choice improve the customer experience?" If it only adds value to your business and not the customer experience, those changes aren't going to resonant with your target audience.
Set Clear Objectives & Metrics to Monitor.
When you refresh your customer service, you need to specifically define the improvements that you wish to make. It's not good enough to say, "we need to offer better customer service." Instead, try to drill down what you want to achieve and how you can measure your success.
Here are a few KPI's for you to consider.
Say you've got three ideas on what you want your new strategy to achieve. They may be to increase repeat purchases, handle customer calls faster, and boost overall customer satisfaction. Three actionable objectives could be:
- Increase customer lifetime value (CLV) by 5% in the next six months
- Shorten average call handling times by two minutes within a year
- Improve NPS by 2% each month for the next year
Rather than telling your team to just provide better service, this gives them clear, set goals for reps to work towards over a defined period of time.
Analyze Customer Interactions.
Even with your goals in place, it may not be obvious what your business has to change if it wants to meet these benchmarks. To discover exactly what you need to tweak, you may need to take a step back and think about all the touchpoints between your customers and your brand.
Map each interaction that a customer might have along their customer journey. Then, take each touchpoint and evaluate how you can improve it while keeping it in line with your goals.
For example, you may find that first-time customers have a lot of questions when initially using your product. In this case, adopting a knowledge base would be a logical next step so you can make the answers to these questions readily available without customers having to reach out to your support team. This type of change actually benefits your business as well as its customers, since fewer people will be reaching out to your service team for help. This reduces case volume for your reps and creates a better experience for your customers since they won't have to ping your team every time they have a quick question.
Upgrade Your Customer Service Tools.
If you want your customer service team to provide exceptional service day in and day out, then you need to arm them with the tools they'll need to be successful. Even if you're only working with a handful of customers each day, customer service tools can make all the difference in providing a speedy response.
One example is a help desk. Help desks centralize your incoming customer service inquiries and distribute them to available reps. Not only does this ensure a balanced distribution between team members, but it also makes it easier to recall past cases with a customer. If someone is consistently having a problem with the same product, reps can review their case history via the help desk to see which troubleshooting steps were tried in the past. This can greatly reduce friction within the service experience, especially when you're working with a customer who has already called in multiple times for the same issue.
Customer service is not a static arena. To deliver the best possible customer experience, you must regularly assess and tweak your strategy and one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is recognizing when it's time for a refresh. Make use of the tips above and you should be well on your way to creating an exceptional customer service strategy.
For more ways to enhance your customer service, read all you need to know about building customer relations.
Originally published Aug 12, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated June 09 2021