How you serve your customers before during and after a purchase or interaction is an incredibly important asset for you as an employee and the company you work for. Meeting the customer’s expectations is a result of providing the right service and delivering great customer service. Excellent customer service involves creating a positive bond with your customer that may lead to a long-term relationship, so every interaction must count.
This is the final article of a four-part series focusing on conflict resolution, technology, measurement, understanding consumers, having goals and reviewing regularly. If you missed the first three articles you can click on the following links. Part #1 Have You Ever Misread a Customers Emotional State, Part #2 Going the Extra Mile, and Part #3 Mastery of Persuasion.
- Conflict resolution
Conflict is inevitable in business. If it is ignored or mismanaged, conflict can have a negative effect on your company or organization. When conflict is managed and resolved effectively it can positively impact customer loyalty, retention and brand awareness. Conflict can be resolved through allowing customers to talk; use empathy to show you understand their feelings or frustrations; convey empathy with a soft tone; work to solve their problems effectively; redirect rather than react to customers problems; own up to your own mistakes immediately; focus their attention on constructive solutions; carefully use verbal softeners such as possibly, likely, occasionally and perhaps rather than always or never; isolate confrontational conversations away from employees or other customers; find a point of agreeance with the customer; wait for silence and then summarize their point and work with them to find a solution; if the customer is not ready for a productive conversation then create some time for them to calm down; have an end point when customers refuse to act constructively; and thank your customer. Managing customers’ expectations, and avoiding arguments, disputes and other forms of conflict are important for building a healthy business.
“When I think about great service, it’s about how you take every interaction you have with the customer and use that as a way to improve their perception of your organization.”
- Technology vs People
It has become commonplace for companies to invest in automated customer service technology, to meet an ever increasing workload and become more efficient. Technology might reduce customer service direct costs by replacing humans, but what is the indirect cost to the company when the technology isn’t able to quickly and easily resolve conflict and issues, and customers leave? The human element, if trained well, can reduce the time to resolution, provide a human touch, show empathy and add value to the consumer. It is important to determine whether human error is more harmful than technology that isn’t flexible or reliable. If technology is going to be implemented, then it needs to reduce the amount of interaction time with customers and provide a clear resolution.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Remember the reason why you are reporting is not to generate reports and graphs, but to provide the best service to your customers. It’s not about the quantity of data, rather the quality of it. Realise that what gets measured gets managed, so ensure that you only select data that provides information that is relevant to improving your service to the customers. Your metrics should be meaningful and relate back to a company goal; moveable so your company can have impact; authentic so you can tell the true story; numbers need to be contextualized; and consistent so you can monitor and understand trends and insights. It is important to present useful reports that focus on long-term trends, keep it simple so it is easy to understand what needs to be improved, and look for correlations that tell a bigger story.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.”
- Understanding Your Consumers
More than 95% of unhappy customers don’t complain, although more than 90% will leave and never return (1st Finance Training Services). Greater than 95% of customers, will tell people about the bad experiences they had with your company (Zendesk). Upwards of 85% of people are influenced by online reviews of products and services, when making buying decisions (Zendesk). Over 70% of the time people blame a bad customer service experience on having to explain to multiple people (Zendesk). 86% of people will pay up to 25% more for a better customer service experience (RightNow). More than 70% of consumers will fall in love with a brand when they experience friendly customer service personnel (RightNow).
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- What Are Your Goal’s
Being clear about your customer service goals allows you to regularly review and check whether you are on target to improve. First, you need to know what success will look like. Second, create specific and measurable customer services goals that are easily identifiable. Third, connect your customer service goals to the company goals. Fourth, create a plan taking into consideration that the difference between a tactic and a goal is action. Fifth, publicise and track your performance rather than placing them on the shelves to collect dust. Sixth, review often, by separating your goal timeframes into weekly, monthly and quarterly checkpoints. Finally, celebrate the milestones you achieve, on a regular basis with your team.
“Ask your customers to be a part of the solution, and don’t view them as part of the problem.”
A regular review of your customer strategy and approach is important, especially when you have changing products, services and most importantly people. It needs to be a company wide review of customer service as everyone is a face for the company and will be involved with customers, clients and suppliers. Check that issues are being resolved, complaints being handled effectively, customer retention being monitored and staff are being effectively trained. Make sure that your goals are agile, changeable and adaptable so that you can choose a new path if they aren’t moving your customer service forward and in the right direction.
“Do what you do so well they will want to see it again, and bring their friends.”
This was the fourth and final part of the 4-part series on customer service. If you missed the first three parts, then you can click on the following links: Part #1 Have You Ever Misread a Customers Emotional State, Part #2 Going the Extra Mile, and Part #3 Mastery of Persuasion.
Looking for More?
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Are you looking for more insights and ideas? Then read the following inspiring and thought-provoking articles and podcasts:
- #8 Mike DeNoma Your Strengths Are What Energise You
- Mastery of Persuasion
- Going the Extra Mile
- Have You Ever Misread a Customers Emotional State?
- #7 Trina Gordon Recruiting the World’s Leaders (Podcast)
- Beyond the Comfort Zone