As a business, our focus should always first and foremost, be the customer and the service they receive from us. Every interaction should be a positive one and there are no excuses in the corporate world for anything less than exceptional customer service. Even when handling a complaint there is no place for rudeness, a raised tone of voice, abruptness, or sarcasm. It is all too easy to be drawn to lose our cool, more so now in the Covid-19 world that we live in, where companies are inevitably receiving an unprecedented number of enquiries, concerns and pings in the Customer Experience funnel.
Regardless of your industry, your position or if you are B2B or B2C focused, here are our top tips to maintaining customer satisfaction and proudly exceeding their expectations:
1. Be Patient
Companies across all industries now provide a Live Chat function. From a consumer's perspective, it’s a great feature as it means you can get answers to your questions quickly and painlessly (on most occasions) without having to pick up the phone to speak to the dreaded call centre!
When it comes to Live Chat from a business point of view, there are a few things to consider; We need to remember that not everyone is tech-savvy and speedy at typing and there are also language barriers to consider if you operate internationally. We all have pressures and deadlines to meet, but whatever you do, don’t make your customer feel that you are rushing them – you could continue with another task while you wait.
2. Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver
If you don’t know the answer to a question or how to handle an enquiry, be honest and offer to get back to the customer with the correct information. Whether you are delivering a product to a retail customer or a business proposal to a client, don’t promise that you will deliver by a certain date if you know you can’t meet the deadline. Honesty is preferred all round.
3. Be Consistent
Be consistent with your company policy. Make sure your Terms and Conditions are continuously reviewed and updated. If you operate a no refund policy, then this needs to apply to all customers. Remember that customers talk, the internet is brimming with reviews and social media allows us to share our experiences (both the positive and the negative) in detail for the world to see.
4. Smile :)
You don’t have to be in a Customer Service position to know the impact it can have when you ‘smile down the phone’. You might not be able to see the person you are talking to, but the tone of your voice can surely be felt. Try it for yourself and see the impact it can have on your conversation.
5. Nurture Relationships
The world in general is going through a tough time right now, so do what you can to make things easier for your clients. If their budget doesn’t quite stretch as far as your quotation, offer a small discount if you are able to. Take a genuine interest in how your customers are doing, regardless of if they can spend with you right now. They may have an idea which they are not sure how to execute which you can offer guidance on. Let them know that you are available to talk and that they are important to you and your business. If all you can do is listen, then do just that.
6. Respond in Good Time but More Importantly, Respond!
There is nothing worse than receiving no response. Whether it's potentially something life-changing like a job seeker looking for a response from a recruiter, or something simpler such as a consumer needing assistance from an online store, ALWAYS respond and respond in good time.
A lack of response can be detrimental to your business. Consider this example; A customer is looking to book a flight online but they would like further clarification on the airlines' refund policy. They reach out to the airline but they don't receive a response. How likely are they to then proceed to book the flight? In all honesty, not very, especially during such uncertain times.
If you are truly customer-focused and you want to set the bar for exceptional customer service, remember that the nature of the situation is irrelevant. The emphasis here is on your responsiveness. Your customer expects and appreciates a response to make them feel valued by your company. Your response time of course will depend on the nature of your business, but for simple enquiries, aim to respond as quickly as possible.
7. Don’t Take it Personally
We have all had to deal with an irate customer at some point or another, be it face to face, over the phone or by email. The important thing to remember here is to not, under any circumstances, lose your cool and be drawn into an argument. Bear in mind when it comes to any type of complaint that their issue is with a product or service, not with you personally. Be mindful not to raise your voice or your tone, respond respectfully but be firm. It is possible to be firm but to remain polite.
8. Be on Top of Your Social Media and Manage Your Reviews
Your social media channels portray your brand image to the world - it portrays the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. Many of us check social media pages for comments and also review websites before trying a new company for the first time and we wisely compare them with similar companies before making an informed choice.
Your acknowledgement and response to the negative feedback and reviews are far more important than commenting on the positive reviews. It’s actually quite frightening how many businesses poorly handle their social media accounts and consistently fail to address complaints in the right way, if at all. Show that you are committed to improving your customer service and that you accept that things do go wrong sometimes.
If the situation calls for an apology, then do so. As a business, if you are left with a poor review, apologise for their negative experience and ask the person to send you a private message so that you can look into the matter for them further - don’t make the situation worse for all to see. Remember that the internet is a huge place and the world is watching.
9. Exceed Expectations!
Exceeding customer expectations doesn't have to be a big gesture. For example, simply refunding the shipping costs of a package if it arrives a day or two late, can make a world of difference and imprint the experience in the customer's memory. What company wouldn't want their customers saying "Can you believe they refunded me even though it was just one day late!" to their friends? Don't underestimate the power of word of mouth. This is just one example of a company going above and beyond expectations and this is what we should all be striving for.
10. Proactively Pursue Feedback
No company is perfect. We all get it wrong sometimes and it’s unrealistic to expect otherwise. The question we need to keep asking ourselves when it comes to our clients and customers is ‘How did we do’? Did you meet and exceed your client’s expectations? How would they score you out of 10? How likely are they to recommend your business and its products or services? If you are passionate about providing an impressive customer experience then you need to pursue feedback proactively and continuously. If you don’t, and you fail to treat your customers well, the bottom line is that they will go elsewhere.
Author: Maria Nicolaides, Customer Support at Ultimate Fintech