Customer service is a performance indicator that just about every business uses to gauge the success of their business. Whether you are in a big retail environment, or a small family-owned business, customer service is top of mind for many. Yet, as we continue to navigate the next normal of a post-pandemic world, every day we see companies struggling to provide a high level of customer appreciation.

Why is this so important? There are statistics everywhere about customer service. One that is so powerful is that just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by a whopping 25% or more. We’d all like a profit increase of 25% or more just from some simple steps. And because we live in an increasingly digital, online, no-contact world, just one bad interaction will cause over half of customers to go with someone else. But 75% of people will never leave a company that they report has superior customer service. It’s crucial to master this art. Here’s 5 ways that you can increase that customer retention with excellent customer service.

USE THE PLATINUM RULE

Gone is the “treat people like you want to be treated” golden rule. The reality is, customers are all people, which means each of their needs are unique. Do they want to be contacted via text, phone, Facebook direct message, or email? Would they rather you come to their home to deliver something or send it via mail? Do they want to be referred to by their first name or Ms. or Mr.? If you don’t know, ask. Train your team to ask. If you receive a text inquiry from someone, respond via text. If you received an email, don’t give up on them because they didn’t answer your few phone calls to follow up. And again, a simple “I’d love to get back to you on this proposal. Do you prefer if I email it, text it, call you, or send it via the mail?” Remember, the way that is most comfortable for you is not necessarily the way that is most comfortable for them. Be sure asking these questions are part of your training process for anyone who is customer-facing, even for a few seconds.

ASK FOR FEEDBACK

We all love a glowing review to pop into our inboxes. Of course! But the feedback that is less-than-stellar is even more valuable. The reality is that people rarely take the time to acknowledge great service, except through repeat business. But the people who’ve had a bad experience? They’re the ones that will scream from the rooftops. When you get a bad service review, the first thing to do is LISTEN. Listen first, to the whole thing. Often times customers just want to be heard. Listening to an angry customer is harder than it sounds – it’s really easy to start arguing, giving excuses, and explaining why their experience was less than stellar. But before the customer has gotten a chance to tell you, these excuses simply add fuel to the fire. First, own it. Not “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Turn it around to “there is no excuse for you having a bad experience. What more can I do to fix this?” Then listen again.

After you’ve received feedback, good and bad, use it. Is there a system or a step in your training program that is missing? Take this feedback as a way to discover this. Ask an expert, such as a coach. Ask them to look at the feedback and help you see what needs to change based on it. The more feedback, the better. Don’t shy away from asking – it just might give you the catalyst for the change you needed to see in your business.

CREATE COMMUNITY

Creating a community of customers is a great way to let them know that you care. Everyone wants to be part of an exclusive club, and the more your customers can connect with each other, the more likely that they’ll stay in your business. Creating community is all about adding value – be sure that this community gives more than it receives. There’s many ways to do this – a Facebook Group, a networking group, private members-only meetings or mastermind groups, and more. Your clients need to own, enjoy, and participate in the community for it to be successful, so make it fun! Asking customers what they want is a way to make this for them (are you sensing a theme here?).

REWARD LOYALTY

Lots of companies have loyalty programs that work. Who’s bought just a little something extra at Starbucks to push themselves over to a free drink? Or taken that completed punch card back for a free item? Believe it or not, loyalty programs work. Has a customer been with you for 5, 10, 20 years? Make sure that they know that you recognize that. That customer has provided value to your business for that long, they will be pleasantly surprised with a special treat. But be sure that the loyalty program is something that they actually want. Again, ask them! In a recent study, 85% of executives answered that they are sure about what their customers actually want, but only 15% of consumers report that they actually did. Wow!

EXPRESS GRATITUDE

Gratitude, in any situation, is a game-changer. Expressing gratitude for your customers is increasingly important, especially since it’s the customer’s choice to do business with you. Gone are the days when there was just one clothing store in town – now customers can shop all around the world and have it delivered to their doorsteps in an instant. They can have their home plans designed by anyone. They can hire thousands of coaches from around the world. And they choose us. This is why we strive to continually express our gratitude for the clients in our lives.

What does gratitude look like? Start with a hand-written thank you note. The lost art of handwritten notes shows that you really care. Don’t feel like you have time? It takes a maximum of 5 minutes to write a quick thank you note. If you have a team of 10, and they write 2 notes a work day every year (with 4 weeks off), that’s 4,800 thank you notes with just a 10 minute investment of time! Those unexpected critical non-essentials have such a big impact. Send flowers on their birthday. Do anything that makes them feel special.

Our client community loves to get together and have a happy hour – so we’re doing one better. A day at the lake with food, drink, fun, and community? Yes, please. We asked, and overdelivered. And we’ll share pictures on our social media after this weekend!

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Your customers are lucky to have you. And you are lucky to have them. Finding ways to ask them how you can better serve them, and following through with those outstanding moments, is what it’s all about. Getting the entire team on board is only going to solidify that gratitude throughout your organization, from the first contact to the last.

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Have you gotten a string of bad reviews? Are you struggling to get your employees on board with excellent customer service? We can help. Our global award-winning team of coaches can help turn your customer service around. Schedule your free, no-obligation business analysis today.

About the author,

Director of Marketing, ActionCOACH Columbus

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