Great customer service equals great company profits. Just look at the story of Zappos.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, “Zappos.com weathered the dot-com bust by focusing less on attracting new customers and concentrating more on retaining old ones. Word about the service-friendly business spread quickly, and the number of repeat customers increased. It introduced free shipping long before it was a common business practice, and the company continues to go above and beyond for customers.”
And the benefits of good customer care aren’t reserved for big companies; small businesses reap the rewards as well.
According to eMarketer, a 2013 study by Web.com and Toluna found that “the factor that US consumers considered the most important when choosing small businesses over other types of businesses was customer service (86% of respondents).”
These 2 data points tell us 3 things: great customer service creates loyal consumers, differentiates you from the competition, and boosts your bottom line.
But what exactly does great customer service mean and how do you actually provide it? Let’s dive in and find out.
What is Great Customer Service?
Well, let’s put it this way:
Good customer service is to friendliness as great customer service is to treating your customers like friends. It all comes down to going the extra mile, going out of your way, and going above and beyond your duties to satisfy and excite your customers.
If that seems a bit esoteric, then we can offer another definition. This one comes from a study conducted by Zendesk. They interviewed 1,000 consumers and asked them what good customer service looks like.
The #1 answer? The problem was resolved quickly.
The takeaway here is that reps should approach customers with the same attitude as Vanilla Ice, “If there’s a problem, yo I’ll solve it!” That’s what customers ultimately want: someone who’s ready and willing to do whatever it takes to resolve their issues.
The #2 and #3 answers were also revealing. The 2nd biggest factor in good customer service was receiving help from a nice agent, and the 3rd factor was the problem being resolved by one person, instead of the customer being passed around to multiple reps.
So to recap, customers want 3 things from you:
- Quick resolution.
- Nice people.
- And a problem solved by one person.
How can you deliver this level of customer service? Read on to find out.
5 Tips for Providing Great Customer Service
The best customer service doesn’t depend on one rogue agent who goes above and beyond, it depends on the entire organization committing to principles and codes of conduct.
These “customer service rules” should dictate every interaction with each patron and shopper. Below, we list 5 tips for providing excellent customer service you can implement immediately.
Train Great Customer Service Reps
You can’t have great customer service without properly trained representatives who know how to satisfy customer demands quickly and patiently.
Essentially, you need to develop a top-down culture of respect and courtesy for every customer, especially those who are demanding, crude, and hard to satisfy.
Each rep should have the knowledge, resources, and attitude to satisfy customer demands on their own (within the bounds of their responsibilities, security access, and so on).
Role-playing scenarios, instructor-led training, text and video instruction should all be used to prepare your reps for easy and difficult customers alike.
Fulfill Your Promises
One of the key customer service guidelines you should live by is, if you make a promise to a customer, like a friend, you should fulfill it. Unfulfilled promises are hard to forget, especially when the customer can easily take their business to one of your competitors.
Reliability is an essential part of a positive relationship. If you promised to deliver flowers before 11am on Valentine’s day, make sure it happens at all costs. If you can’t deliver on your promise, then don’t make it. Breaking promises is far worse than never making one in the first place.
Listen, Don’t Just Talk and Sell
Being great really means delivering simple customer service, which can be boiled down to one word:
Listen as if your job depends on it (and for customer service reps, it does). If you don’t understand a customers point of view, their entire problem, and their emotional state, you’re doing them and yourself a disfavor.
Problem resolution, much like conflict resolution, depends on seeing the issue clearly and exactly. Listening is a skill just the same as writing or reading is. And there are specific ways to become a better listener.
Great customer service is delivered by reps who are willing to pause, understand, and reflect on what a customer is truly telling them and respond with empathy and kindness.
It’s no secret that customers want a response from companies at lightning speeds. They’re impatient and want their complaints heard and recognized almost instantaneously. And the research bears this out.
According to a survey of more than 1,200 consumers conducted by Toister Performance Solutions, Inc., “Businesses should target a response time standard of one hour, with 15 minutes representing world-class service.”
If you can respond to inquiries that fast, you’ll satisfy 80% of your customers.
Understandably, this isn’t always feasible. Nevertheless, it should be the goal if great customer service is your mission.
Answer Phone Lines with a Live Person (and Don’t Leave Customers Waiting on Hold)
US companies are losing $62 billion a year because of poor customer service, according to New Voice Media. That’s $20 billion more than in 2013.
There are many factors contributing to this loss of revenue but one of the major reasons is poor issue resolution over the phone. Here’s the situation:
- 70% of customers choose to call a business for a quick answer.
- 58% of customers prefer calling over other forms of communication.
But customers call businesses…
- 55% of them say not being able to speak to a real person right away is the top reason they dislike calling companies.
- 49% of them hate repeating the same info to multiple reps.
- And 41% of them hate being put on hold.
In fact, consumers will wait only 11 minutes on hold before hanging up. And if customers have a single terrible experience, 51% of them will never use that company again. What’s the biggest reason for switching from one business to another? Feeling unappreciated.
Of course, if a customer has a positive experience, 65% of them will tell others about that company.
The bottom line is this: provide superior customer service using real, live reps over the phone and listen, listen, listen.
Bonus Tip: Communicate Visually
Visual communication is more important today than ever before, and the data on this is overwhelming.
NeoMam Studios created a gorgeous infographic detailing 13 fascinating statistics about visual communication, such as:
- The use of visualized information has increased 400% in literature (since 1990) and 9900% on the internet (since 2007).
- Almost 50% of your brain is involved in visual processing.
- 70% of all your sensory receptors are in your eyes.
- And we can get the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10 of a second.
In short, we’re visually wired.
If you want to make sure customers understand your solution, can easily grasp complex information, and not have to worry about potential language barriers, you need a way to visually communicate with them.
That’s why we created Zight (formerly CloudApp).
Zight (formerly CloudApp) brings a free screen recorder (with webcam too!), GIF creator, video tutorials, and screenshot annotation tool to the cloud in an easy-to-use, enterprise-grade app so you can quickly create and share visual content.
We help customer support teams:
- Easily create support materials and tutorials
- Optimize customer support workflows
- Provide customers with detailed answers and close Zendesk tickets faster
- Improve your team’s CSAT scores
- Track bugs and document problems
- Improve customer support initiatives
Learn more about Zight (formerly CloudApp) for Customer Support here.