Continuous improvement in the customer experience is vital as it is one of the determinants of a company’s profitability. It’s realistic to expect sales increases of 20% or more of a company’s total revenue through superior customer service.
Fortunately, there are many tactics you can try to improve your team’s performance. From implementing a quality assurance strategy to getting honest customer feedback, they will help ensure a smooth client journey from prospect to after sale.
The presence of tools to show your team their work and impact on customer experience help them improve their work. The right tools allow you to make adjustments before it’s too late. Meaningful conversations with your team will help them improve their work and increase your customer retention rate.
This article will discuss the most popular strategies to improve customer service efficiency in 2022.
What is customer service?
Customer service is the help and guidance a company provides to people before, during, and after they purchase a product or service. There is a direct connection between client satisfaction, firm loyalty, and revenue growth.
Customer satisfaction has always been a vital part of business, but it’s more important now than ever. Consumers expect a lot from brands and have timeless brands to choose from. Service should be part of every step of their journey, from initial interaction to post-purchase.
The days when customer service was the number you called to get help are over. Today, service is critical to any product, service, or business. It must be implemented across all platforms and channels of your brand, including through phone, email, social networks, your website, SMS, etc.
Why is customer service so important?
Investing in customer service helps activate your flywheel because loyal customers will help you acquire new customers for free by persuading potential clients to interact with your brand. And their positive feedback will be more effective and cheaper than any of your current marketing efforts. Also, consider why you should invest in your customer service team.
- It adds value to your product or service, leading to higher revenues. Most people are willing to pay more for the same product with excellent customer service.
- It increases customer retention and recurring revenue. Retaining an existing customer is often cheaper than acquiring a new one. So providing good customer service is an effective way to keep your customers coming back and buying your products. Plus, it’s cheaper and more effective than advertising and marketing to people who don’t even know about you.
- It leads to positive reviews and a positive brand image. What is the first thing a customer wants to do when they have a negative customer service experience with your business? Write a negative Facebook post for the world to see, or worse, publish a whole blog post ranking your brand name on Google. Not only can these scenarios be prevented, but they can also be turned into positive reviews and posts by providing excellent customer service to each of your clients.
- It boosts the morale of your employees and reduces the cost of employee turnover. Support staff love to help your customers efficiently and quickly. After all, if they make the buyer happy, then they have done an excellent job. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news or endure the angry rantings of a disgruntled customer. Giving your support staff the proper tools and coaching to deal with various client problems is the key to boosting their morale and cutting employee turnover.
- It sets you apart from your competitors. In a world where it’s easy to change brands, good customer service is the key to maintaining customer loyalty. If they feel their current supplier values them, many are more likely to stay put, even if competitors offer more favorable prices or better deals.
No matter what industry, you want your business to stand out. After all, no one strives to be «second» in something. You want to be better than every other company you compete with, and your customers know that too. It’s the key to keeping customers loyal and getting them to engage with your brand consistently.
Main customer service skills
Before thinking about how to improve customer service, make sure your customer service team has the skills to manage client needs. No amount of CRM software makes up for shortcomings in this area. But what skills should you look for in a customer service rep?
- Empathy, patience, and consistency: some customers will be furious. Others will ask a lot of questions. And still, others will call to chat. You have to know how to handle all of them and provide the same level of service every time.
- Adaptability: all clients are different, and it may seem that some change weekly. You must be able to handle the unexpected, feel the client’s mood, and adapt accordingly. It also includes a willingness to learn – providing good customer service is a continuous learning process.
- Clear explanation: ensure you convey what you have in mind to your clients. You don’t want your customer to think they’re getting a 30% discount when they’re getting 30% more product. Use positive language, stay upbeat in every situation, and never end a conversation without ensuring the customer is satisfied.
- Work ethic: customers value support agents who take their problems to a solution. On the other hand, you must have good time management skills and not spend too much time on one client while others are waiting. Focus on your goals to achieve the right balance.
- Knowledge: ultimately, your customers rely on your support staff to understand your product. Be informed enough to answer most queries and know where to turn if questions become too detailed or technical for you to answer. But don’t be shy to say, «I don’t know». Clients appreciate the honesty and your efforts to find the correct answer.
- Thick skin: the client is always right…right? The ability to swallow pride and accept blame or negative feedback is critical. Whether your team interacts directly with customers or seeks input on social media, they need to keep client satisfaction in mind.
Do you doubt your representatives have the necessary customer service skills? Interview your clients to see if your service team exhibits these characteristics. Conducting customer feedback surveys through your CRM program at the point of sale or sending invoices to customers is a great way to see which skills on your team are eligible and which are not.
Key strategies to improve your team’s customer service
Your customer service is the front line of your organization. They will be the «face» of what customers see in your brand representation. Agents will create an impression of your company with your clients, so it is essential to ensure that service quality meets company standards. There are several powerful ways to improve the customer experience on your team.
Let’s look at strategies to improve customer service.
Try to understand customers’ wishes
The more you get to know your buyers, the better you may understand their needs and expectations. Therefore, consider:
- What we nowadays know about each of our clients?
- How helpful is this data?
- Who else has information about our clients that can help us?
- Where do we store such information? Also, consider how secure and compatible this information store is.
- What tools do we have that help us get important customer information?
Ask your team to help you obtain and preserve valuable information. After that, consider how your product or service may better meet buyers’ needs.
Set and communicate clear service standards
Set a few simple customer service standards that team members can easily understand and implement. You can also include team members in such a process if you want to be fully involved.
When setting customer service standards, consider:
- The tone and type of language best reflect your values and service ethic.
- Different processes are required to ensure consistent implementation of these standards – for example, communication templates with clients.
- Available resources, such as the level of personnel and technology.
- Realistic time frames for customer service, especially during peak times. For example, answering a phone call within three rings.
When companies think about improving their performance management systems, they are often guided by business results. However, customer support teams need to understand how a client feels after interacting with you may impact customer loyalty.
Improve your customer experience
If your staff has the required skill set, it’s a good start. But they still need to be relevant to your customers. Here is some advice for making sure your customer service is thorough and well received:
- Ask representatives to find common ground – like common interests – with the people they are helping. Such understanding makes it easier to overcome conflict by humanizing the relationship and inspires customer sympathy for your representative (and, ultimately, for your company).
- Practice active listening, so your clients feel heard. Clarify and paraphrase what customers are saying to make sure you understand them. Empathize with their feelings and reflect on them by saying something like, «That must have upset you» or «I understand why you feel dissatisfied».
Admit your mistakes, even if you find them before your clients. It builds trust and restores confidence. It lets you control the situation, refocus the client’s attention and solve the problem.
Personalize customer service with video chat
Video calls allow service agents to provide personalized customer assistance in a convenient and time-saving way. It will enable the buyer to interact with you without visiting your store or office directly.
Clients can view product demos and presentations and get instant answers to their questions. Real-time face-to-face communication strengthens relationships, builds customer trust, increases customer satisfaction, and increases sales revenue.
Set individual and team goals
Once you have a structure in place, you may define what your team and each need to achieve. Let your agents determine and track individual goals based on the team’s agreement.
Having your agents have their own goals allows them to take real responsibility and achieve them. Such a sense of accomplishment leads to greater engagement and increased productivity. Then your customer service team’s goals are aligned with the company’s goals.
However, this does not always mean they will achieve your agreed-upon goals. Keeping track of their performance (and having a culture of honesty and integrity) can help you support your team when any problems arise so you can work through them together.
Come up with an omnichannel customer service strategy
Creating a sense of accessibility in today’s digital world is essential, but it’s also crucial to ensure you don’t overextend your resources to be everywhere. You can consider variants like email, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter to make your customer experience easy and quick. The first stage to creating this accessibility is determining where your customers prefer to seek help and focusing your efforts on those channels.
You can also create a customer self-service (CSS) space to reduce contact with your team’s customers. For example, a FAQ page, help center, or community forum can help customers resolve issues without contacting your CS team.
Optimize manual processes
In many cases, process optimization can save your team time and reduce mistakes. One option is to utilize software built to cut down on tedious tasks, calculate trends, or automate reports.
With the extra time freed up, you can focus on more important things like training your team, evaluating data, or solving client problems. Removing these manual processes can encourage agents to use technologies that increase productivity.
Check your competitors
Allow your employees to see your competitors’ level of customer service. You can even include other organizations that are not competitors but are known to offer excellent customer service.
Some of their customer service practices may be adopted by your organization. After your employees analyze your competitors, ask them to share their experiences with the rest of the team. From these ideas, you can choose the best practical ideas that you want to implement in your organization.
Set up an employee recognition and reward system
Implement a simple rewards scheme that delivers excellent customer service in line with your organization’s culture.
Consider what forms of recognition and rewards motivate team members the most. Naturally, any scheme you come up with must be commercially viable. However, if the plan is well thought out, it will usually pay off in additional customer service outcomes.
Employee schemes may include:
- a small thank you gift, such as chocolate, gift certificate, movie tickets,
- long service awards,
- gratitude on social media,
- extra day off
- rewards for team performance, etc.
If you’re still not sure what is most beneficial to your employees, ask them what they would prefer. Staff surveys and performance reviews may then get feedback on the scheme.
Some words about feedback
No matter how active you are, you will never be able to handle every client’s problem. To ensure you learn about your customers’ good, bad, and terrible experiences, create an easily accessible way for them to leave feedback.
Whether it’s a phone survey, an email survey sent directly from your CRM platform, or a form on your website’s Contact Us page, creating customer feedback tools makes it easy to find out what urgently needs to be improved. It also helps keep disgruntled customers from expressing dissatisfaction in prominent places like yours or their social media pages.
Whatever steps you take, remember the importance of feedback to customer satisfaction. Not comprehend what your strengths and weaknesses are? Don’t understand why the numbers are falling? Make an effort to get closer to both your customers and your representatives.
Not only will you discover common ground and skills that need improvement, but your customers will see that the support team is committed to delivering first-class, proactive customer service.
There is no single correct answer to the question «What is the key to great customer service?», but combining different strategies will allow your team to work together and help each other, which can significantly improve your bottom line. Creating a strategy, setting customer service aims, and engaging your team in the process help drive the teamwork needed to succeed. Make it an element of your culture and lead by example to motivate agents.
No matter the algorithm you choose, the KPIs you measure, or how you motivate your employees, your company expects the best.