According to the State Of Global Customer Service Report by Microsoft 54% of all consumers say that they have higher service expectations than they did just one year ago. It is evident from this statement that for a business to grow in the future, it must focus on continuous improvement in its customer service.
There is no denying the fact that service experience has always played an important role in customer success, but its role in today’s digital era has become even more important. As it is quite rightly said by Doug Warner, former chairman of the board of J.P. Morgan & Co, “In the world of internet customer service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.”
This is where building your business strategy around customers and providing excellent service experience can be the key to success. And, with this post, we are going to help you do just the same.
We live in an era driven by technology. People in this era are ready to pay for a good customer service experience, as it is evident from this statistic – two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay for great customer service.
But what makes good customer service? Well, here’s a look at the three important qualities that people identify with good customer service –
1. Courtesy – courtesy forms the number one factor of good customer service, as it is reflected in the survey commissioned by RightNow and conducted by Harris, “73% of customers fall in love with a brand and remain loyal because of friendly service reps.” Therefore, you need to be courteous in your approach when handling customers. Remember, you need to feel that the customer is dealing with humans and not machines. Employing basic courtesies while communicating, therefore, becomes an important factor.
2. Competence – the second important factor that plays a role in attracting customers towards your business is having competent staff with good knowledge of the product and a thorough understanding of customer’s needs. According to a survey by American Express, “62% of the respondents said that knowledge and resourcefulness of the service staff was the key to their good service experience.” Therefore, giving the client accurate and in-depth information must be the priority, instead of sharing vague and unimportant information.
3. Consistency – As businesses are using multiple channels of communication to engage with customers, it becomes imperative to maintain consistency in your customer service efforts across all these channels to gain customer trust. This is where most businesses are lacking as is evident from this customer service statistic – ‘87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience.’ whether it is communication, sharing the scope or any other project-related activity, you need to maintain a consistency in your approach.
Besides these three, timely response has always been a prime factor in defining customer service experience. It becomes even more important when we talk about remote-friendly customer service experience.
Now, let’s move to the most important question – how can you develop a winning customer service strategy that helps your business grow? Well, the first step in this direction is to know what you are doing wrong.
As mentioned above, three core factors make a good customer service experience. If you have these three goals in place, but still failing to make customer service impactful, the reasons could be the following –
Not having the right person to do the job is the first mistake you might be making with your customer service strategies. If your customer service staff does not have the right attitude and the right mindset to help the customer, they are not going to be the right person to do the job for your business. This is where the hiring process becomes of utmost importance.
When hiring, make sure to pick a person who not only has the relevant experience and skill, but also the right attitude and passion for the job. You cannot stress enough on the fact that having the right person to do the job is a prime factor to develop a winning customer service strategy.
The second mistake you could be making with your customer service strategy is not providing them the right training. It is important to understand here that the core principles of customer service are the same, but every business is different. You might have hired an experienced employee, but without the right product knowledge and training his/her skills are of no use.
You must focus on providing your employees with the right training, and give them your business guide that describes how to chat with customers, soft skills to follow while interacting with customers, and more. Right from product knowledge to the various channels that you use for customer interaction, you need to make the employee well-versed with all that.
Lastly, not having the right technology for making your customer service stand out could be the biggest mistake that you are making. There are several tools, portals, live chat solutions, helpdesk software, and more tools alike available out there that can work great towards simplifying your customer’s experience with your business. At the same time, you can provide your team with task management software to unify their efforts and have a centralized place to access all the information.
You need to research the market and find the right tools according to your business and client requirements. This could turn out to be the easiest and the most efficient way to turn around the impact of your customer service strategies. For example, the knowledge base software from LiveAgent can work wonders to empower both your customers and your service agents.
You might not even notice, but by not doing all this you might be providing your customers with a poor service experience. And, losing thousands of dollars in revenues, not by losing the current customer but also the potential customers that you would have received through the references. Don’t forget these words from Timi Nadela, in today’s digital era, news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for good service experience.
Building a service model that can lay the foundation for a successful business is not just about putting a few steps together, it is more about creating a customer-driven culture. A culture where everyone in the team understands that the benefit and satisfaction of the customer is the ultimate measure of success of the project. This is the reason that by carefully analyzing customer behavior, understanding their problem, you need to formulate a strategy that keeps these two requirements at the forefront.
As the co-founder of Intuit, Scott Cook, has quite rightly said, “Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.” After all, your customers are your biggest asset, and providing them with lasting customer experience is what you can do to make them keep coming back for more. If you manage to achieve this, you can fulfill your dream of a successful and growing business come true. But how to do this?
Well, we are going to discuss some simple and effective ways to plan your projects around customers:
False, unrealistic expectations and promises that you cannot fulfill are the clear signs of bad business practice. And, it can hurt your customer relations, your reputation, and your business growth. When creating a project plan, you must set the right expectations and realistic deadlines.
For instance, not keeping buffer time for unwanted circumstances like someone falling sick, technical difficulties, or similar other factors, can be a mistake that you are making. When planning your project, always keep these factors in mind and then communicate with the customer.
The second important thing you need to pay due consideration to is the documentation part. Poor documentation could lead to poor execution. Starting from the scope of the project to technical specifications, make sure to have a written record of everything.
And, don’t forget to share all the relevant documents with the client, highlighting the important events and milestones. This helps in keeping things transparent, and also the client can keep a track of project progress once the project has started.
Effective communication goes a long way to building trust between the client and the business. Make it a point to keep communication clear and transparent. And, keep the client in the loop every time some changes are made in the scope of the project. This gives them the clarity they need to have and works as a reassurance.
And, remember that communication is not just a one-way process. Keep communication lines open for the client to easily approach you whenever they require. Instead of using email, you can switch to chat software or internal communication tools that can streamline your communication efforts.
There are a few basic things that you cannot afford to neglect when communicating with customers, especially when they are from a different location. One of the most basic things in this list is considering the time zone difference.
Not only is it annoying for the clients when this happens, but it also causes a delay in the process. For instance, sending them a file to review at their night-time while it is your day, could eventually lead to a delay. So, planning and keeping time zone differences in due consideration is a must.
Not having the right channel in place for reviewing project-related files is one of the biggest mistakes. While emails have been used by businesses for communication and reviewing processes for all these years, they consume a lot of time.
Instead of using emails, you can switch to online proofing tools, which provide an easier, quicker, and more efficient way to review files and share feedback.
Another important thing that you can do to develop a customer-centric approach in the project is to have regular feedback sessions. These sessions are a great way to sit with the client and get to know what they feel about the work being done.
And, you don’t have to be in the same place to carry out these sessions. You can carry out virtual discussions, keeping the involved team members, and stakeholders in the loop to discuss and brainstorm together.
To make it easy for the customer to access project-related information, whenever and wherever they need to, it is a good idea to have a central place for everything. For instance, using project management software to store documents, files and everything else related to the project can be just perfect.
In fact, there are advanced project management software and resource management software that not only let you store project related information, but also have communication, collaboration, and reporting features to make life easy for the clients, and your team members at the same time. Using one can be a really smart idea.
Keeping your customer at the forefront when planning your project can be the difference between a happy and a disappointed client. If you do everything right, you can eventually have a happy client that can bring returning business.
And, we all know that customer retention is always a more cost-effective approach when compared to attracting new customers. In fact, increasing your customer retention rate by just 5% can lead to a jump in revenues by anywhere between 25% to 95%. So, having a happy customer at the end of the project is all that matters.
Don’t forget, the one question that’s always lurking around in the customer’s mind before procuring any service is – what’s in it for me? Or, in other words – how does this solve my problem? You need to not only give them an answer but also ensure they are satisfied with it. And, planning your project around them is the best way to do this.
These simple steps provided above can help you plan your projects around customers, and help win their trust, which is ultimately going to be beneficial for your business in the longer run. Implement them in your planning strategies to see their results.
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