If you want to run a successful company, one of the many things you need is great customer service. Not only do you show your loyal customers how much you value their business, but you also give them one more reason to stick around. Returning customers help you in the long-run and can also drum up new business with their glowing reviews.
But, what does customer service mean to you? The term seems to be subjective for just about everyone. Whether it’s customers with different needs or business owners who handle things differently, everyone has an opinion. Regardless of the variation, you’ll need a strategy of your own.
With that in mind, here’s what customer service means to the professionals.
Go the Extra Mile
Great customer service to our company means establishing a personal rapport with each of our customers. We have around 20,000 current customers and we want to figure out a scalable, effective way to get closer to them.
After brainstorming, we came up with an idea to tap into our customers’ hearts through their pets. When a homeowner signs up for our service, we gather information on whether they have pets. We do this so our lawn vendors know to be careful when entering the lawn.
However, we decided we could use this information to send a personalized gift to our customers’ pet, addressed to them by name. This really wowed our customers. We received personal thank you notes, Facebook videos of their dog chewing the bone we sent, and thank you tweets. It worked really well for the time and money we invested.
Take Time for Each Client
Customer service to me means creating a transformational experience at each and every point of contact with your customers. Each time a customer encounters a part of my platform, they should feel safe and cared for in an intimate manner. In my organization, this means that I show how much I care through my dedication to timely responses, my efforts to always speak their language, and by creating personal touches like personalized emails or handwritten notes.
Prioritizing the customer/client experience and making it personal always prevails in business. For example, I recall walking on my undergrad campus for an open house. My advisor greeted me by name and followed up on some personal details I’d shared with her about my summer. She made me feel seen, and I chose to enroll there. In business, make your customers/clients feel seen. Instead of overthinking customer service, shift the mindset to reflect an emphasis on consistently recreating transformational experiences at all times.
The Intentional Mindset
Leave Customers Smiling
For me, good customer service means a willingness to take the time and energy to go above and beyond to make a customer’s day happier. It’s about being able to put a smile on someone’s face.
Sometimes people forget the word ‘service’ in ‘customer service.’ To serve means to provide someone with a level of help that truly makes their day better and brighter.
Customer service means delivering a wonderful experience around the product or service itself. It’s the difference between shoving food onto someone’s table and gently laying it in front of them and talking about the meal. It’s the difference between giving someone an answer and giving them an explanation with a smile on your face.
Great customer service is about being willing to spend more time with the customer. It’s also about responding to emails faster, picking up the phone, and going the extra mile to ensure your customer leaves with a smile on their face.
Communicate and Be Transparent
Customer service should be the driving force of every business interaction. When I think of customer service, I think of communication and transparency. Most failures in customer service come as a result of bad communication and gaps in service expectation and delivery. You need to be mindful of what the customer may be expecting when procuring your service and keep them updated throughout it. Usually, a phone call/human interaction is best. But at the very least, automated and email communication is needed to keep your customers posted on what you’re doing for them.
A very simple example is to imagine you’re a car repair service and approaching the end of your repairs. Calling the customer before you’re finished and telling them important details like what the problem was with the car, how you repaired it, and when they can pick it up instills added trust with you and the customer. They know the full extent of what they paid for, as well as the exact timeline of completion.
Client Success Manager
Determine Solutions Outside the Box
As a service business, it can sometimes get murky to what customer service includes. I have a membership-based business and I want to make this a comfortable, welcoming, inclusive place. So, I’ll do as much as I or my team can do to provide great customer service.
But that doesn’t mean the customer is always “right.” If customers make demands outside my service, we’ll have a conversation and figure out what the best solution is. That’s a really hard thing as a small business owner because your instinct is to just do what they want. But, you can’t always afford to do that. Some people just try to push the boundaries and you’ve got to have your deliverables clearly defined so that everyone knows exactly what to expect. Then, you know that you can focus on doing what you do best, not trying to meet every expressed need whether it fits you or not. Instead, you can provide great customer service and experiences for what was promised!
Personalize Your Service
Good customer service means personalization. By its nature, it’s adaptive and designed to fit individual needs.
For instance, some people think good customer service is having an employee tending to them, accompanying them, and making comments or offering suggestions. Another person might find such an approach hugely off-putting or overly intrusive. Ergo, good customer service needs to be tailored to the needs of the individual.
Good customer service means, above all things, listening to your customer and finding out what they want. For instance, if a person makes a complaint and you’re unsure how to resolve it (or there’s no obvious way to correct the damage), ask your customer what they would like from you. Giving them the opportunity to tell you often takes people aback and will generally improve their perceptions of you. Also, if they’re made to voice their concerns rather than hoping you’ll offer something good, they’re less likely to be outrageous or unreasonable about their demands too!
Monitor Unhappy Customers
One clear indication of an awesome consumer-centric approach is happy and returning customers. Happy customers initiate word-of-mouth recommendations, positive online reviews, and great feedback attracting new customers.
Two successful methods for keeping customers happy are:
- Building a customer success team. Help bridge the communication gap between customers and business by training customers service professionals effectively. Build a customer success team that resolves the hassles and challenges faced by the end-users. Your first step needs to be customer pacification and getting the customer to the level where they genuinely tell you their challenges. That’s when you can deal with them in a business sense and look at it as a business challenge in order to offer resolutions.
- Study their journey to know where you lost them and use survey forms. Analyze the customer journey with a CRM platform to understand and map the reasons why customers abandoned you before buying. For example, what pages did they check before leaving and which part of the sales cycle did they find most challenging? You can send such unhappy customers a survey form to collect their feedback and understand their pain points. You can then gradually improve your webpages, sales cycle, customer services, and any other aspect of your business that needs improvement.
Mercer | Mettl
Make Your Customers Part of a Team
In the agency and consulting world, customer service is the lifeblood of a product offering.
There are a lot of people who can offer the exact same value as the next guy. To offer excellent customer service I’ve found that everything you think makes someone feel like they’re receiving the best customer service is accurate. You need to be responsive, kind, and helpful.
I’ve also found in an agency or consulting setting, going the extra step to make clients feel as if they’re part of a community is the best approach to customer service. You do this by allowing your clients to feel as if they’re part of a group, not just a one-off client of yours. I introduce most of my clients to each other and figure out how they can help each other. I also give free teaching sessions for all of my clients at once in a webinar setting that encourages collaboration. This enables my clients to build relationships with each other while I’m not around. This allows for more natural trust towards me and my company.
Be Professional and Take Responsibility
My favorite definition of customer service is related to the quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I like it and find it helpful because it’s a simple reminder to listen more than talk, show empathy and try to look at the situation from another perspective. The goal is not to wear people down or impress them with your smarts. The goal is to connect, communicate clearly, solve the problem and move on.
For me, the brands that offer the best customer service share a few qualities:
- Timely responses: they act quickly to address the issue in a genuine way, not with a script but with sincerity.
- They take responsibility: they don’t make excuses or place blame. They take ownership of the issue and don’t pass you around or use threats and jargon. The customer feels heard and respected.
- Professionalism and honesty: they’re polite and easy to deal with.
In my experience, even if they can’t solve the problem, so long as you feel respected and heard, at least you can say they tried. Some problems can’t be fixed but everyone can be treated fairly and with dignity. Exceptional service means you leave with a better feeling than when you arrived.
Mavens & Moguls
Learn From Poor Examples
I used to work as an actor before I started my business. I was represented by two agencies. One office would see me in the lobby and everyone knew who I was without me even having to introduce myself. Everyone called me by my first name and even knew what my last job was.
On the other hand, the other agency was the complete opposite. I went in and the woman at the desk introduced herself like she had never seen me before in her life. When I said who I was looking for, she forgot within seconds what my name was and asked me to remind her again. This made me really see how much work one company was putting in versus the other.
Now that I’ve got my own business, I’m hyperaware of this and am such a stickler for knowing people’s names, what their story is and what’s going on with them. It’s very important to me that people feel taken care of. The way I see it, people spend countless hours and dollars on their brand. We have to respect that and feel that same dedication if we want to be considered part of their team.
Owner and CEO
Empathize and Listen
Our customer success team is the window to our business. As the first point of contact with our customers, we have one thing in mind: to give the families the best experience we can in the few minutes we have with them.
Since we work with families in an often frustrating and complicated process, it’s our duty to approach each person with active listening and empathy. We speak to everyone in line with our branding, and often our team is used for testing new language. We’re the first to hear about problems customers have on our website, wonderful experiences they’re having with our business partners or needs they have beyond the scope of our current business model. A great team member uses the feedback they receive and puts it into the rest of the business. They report it to the other teams and use it to improve the business and meet the customers’ needs.
Personally, I try to coach my customer service team to use techniques that social work professionals also use: empathy, active listening, and reflection. Customers want to feel heard and appreciated. Empathizing and connecting with families also deepens the connection for the customer service team, creating a more fulfilling job for employees.
Prioritize Customer Feedback
We’re more than customer-centric – we’re customer obsessed! We’re so close to our customers and want to know every piece of feedback they have. After all, UpKeep is nothing if it’s not useful to them.
We treat our customers the way we’d like to be treated. We anticipate their needs, actively listen to their requests, and care deeply about creating value for them. For us, this could mean going out of our way to solving a customer’s bug by hopping on calls. Or, it could mean remembering small details about the lives of our customers and sending handwritten thank-you notes for our customers of the week.
We also prioritize customer feedback to improve our product. We want to hear feedback from customers and prospects. We take in every piece of feedback we get and incorporate it to make our product even better. We also never say there’s a bad piece of feedback. We prioritize the feedback and dig deep into why people ask for a particular feature. I see it as extremely core to us, especially if we call ourselves a customer-centric company. We’re super open to feedback from all levels of customers so we can grow our company and improve our customer experience.
UpKeep Maintenance Management