In today’s digital age, the battlefield has shifted to customer service. The company that delivers the best service wins the customer. 27% of Americans report that ineffective service is their top customer service frustration. In addition, 78% of customers have given up on a transaction due to a negative customer experience.
Aside from lost business, poor customer service can also do more damage to your business. 61% of customers take their business to a competitor after a poor customer service experience. In addition, $289 is the average value of every lost business relationship in the U.S. per year. All these figures indicate that we should put a premium on customer service to ensure brand loyalty. In this article, we look at what you should and shouldn’t be doing to deliver effective customer service.
Do’s & Don’ts of Customer Service
What You Should Be Doing
- Be Proactive
- Know Your Product
- Show Empathy
- Communicate Clearly
- Respect Your Customer
- Be Honest
What You Should Not Be Doing
- Focus on Who’s To Blame
- Treat Customers as a Transaction
- Use Jargon
- Avoid Accountability
- Ignore Customer Feedback
- Be Unprofessional
Do’s & Don’ts of Customer Service
Customer service has become a key differentiator of businesses. This trend is likely to continue as customers become digitally savvy. Today businesses face a new breed of customers. Before they reach out to your customer service team, they already know about what they want from your product.
When customers reach out to your in-house team, they expect an immediate response from your end. To be effective with customer service, you need to learn the different do’s and don’ts of customer service.
What You Should Be Doing
Here are the things you need to do to effectively deliver great customer service.
1. Be Proactive
Customer service does not end once the customer has received their ordered merchandise. You also need to reach out to the customer after the completed purchase. Even just sending an email will show customers that you not only care about their satisfaction but also want them to get the most out of your product as well. Being proactive is a great way to increase the chances of a repeat purchase and customer life value.
Being proactive in customer service can have a huge impact on your business. According to a recent survey, 87% of customers who had a positive experience with proactive customer service resulted in the customer taking positive action with the business. A staggering 92% revealed that being contacted proactively caused them to have a positive perception of the brand. Being proactive means going above and beyond the point of purchase.
The aim of proactive customer service is to take steps to help the customer resolve issues before they occur. For instance, you can anticipate that your customers will be asking you about delivery dates or about delayed deliveries. Being proactive means informing the customer about these delays and what the new delivery date is.
2. Know Your Product
Customers want to know that the agent they are talking to is an authority on the product or service. Nothing can be more frustrating to a customer than an agent who does not know how to properly navigate around their product when answering queries.
While the customer may already know about the product, they are reaching out to an agent to get more information. Not providing sufficient answers could make a difference between making or not making a sale.
After purchasing a product, the customer may have some troubleshooting concerns. Once this happens, your customer service team needs to be ready to confidently walk your customer through their query. They should be able to locate documentation to properly resolve the issue.
3. Show Empathy
Empathy is the best way to show your customers that their concerns matter. Studies show that 96% of consumers view empathy as important in custom support reactions. Putting a premium on customer experience can boost brand loyalty, increased sales, and more referrals. By showing empathy, your business gets to enjoy these benefits.
However, this is one area where businesses have been failing. Research shows that 64% of customers say that companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience. When a customer feels that there is no connection between them and your brand, the whole customer experience will suffer.
Rather than just being a voice on the other end, customers require you to place yourself in their shoes and relate to their problems. You might not be able to provide them with a satisfactory solution but at least you showed them that you are with them and showed empathy. You can say simple phrases like “I’m sorry you had to go through this”, or “I’d be as upset if it happened to me.” These phrases help reinforce that they are being valued.
4. Communicate Clearly
Good communication is vital for customer service. Being a good communicator also implies that you must be a good listener. Listen to the concerns of your customers attentively and do not interrupt them. As much as possible, use clear and simple language. Make sure that the customer completely understands what you mean.
Maintaining good communication with customers is vital to building lasting relationships. When actively listening to customers, you should always ask clarifying questions if something is not clear to you. If possible, you should rephrase what your customers tell you and repeat it back to them to clarify.
Just how important is constant communication? Well, the more you communicate with customers, the more likely they will remember you and your business. Implement a communication strategy and determine which communication method is most effective for your target customers. For example, not everyone prefers being contacted from their social media accounts.
5. Respect Your Customer
The key to a long relationship starts with respect. As Dale Carnegie puts it, the key to building relationships is making the other person feel important and doing it sincerely. Customers deserve your full attention and polite, friendly attitude. That’s the easiest example of customer care which could result in a wholesome customer experience.
Your in-house team should be polite, friendly, and focused on customer details. Showing customers some love and care can help increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. So how do you show respect to customers? First, don’t make it difficult for them to reach you and get the assistance they need. They deserve to be directed to the right person right away.
Customers want to feel acknowledged, respected, and valued. Thus, you should instill a culture of “customer first” as this is critical to delivering a positive customer experience. Ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page by teaching them how to get customers the help they need.
6. Be Honest
Another important thing you should be doing to deliver top-notch customer service is to be honest. Broken promises can prove costly to your business in the long run. In the latest survey of Ask Your Target Market, 84% of customers agree that honesty is a positive trait that every business should portray. In addition, 85% of respondents said they are more likely to support brands they consider to be honest.
Honesty in customer service helps build trust and credibility. Following through on what you promised is important to ensure customer loyalty. If what you offer is not the best solution, then tell them straightforwardly. If you can’t, help them and refer them to someone who can offer the right solution.
Be truthful when dealing with customers. Don’t say “This will only take a minute” if it will take longer than that to resolve the issue. If you promised the customer that you will follow up on their ticket, make sure you do. Transparency helps improve customer relationships and boost brand loyalty.
What You Should Not Be Doing
If there are things that you should be doing, then there are also those that you need to avoid or lose the business of your customers. Here are some of the don’ts of customer service your team should keep in mind:
1. Focus on Who’s To Blame
When things go wrong, you can easily be tempted to blame the customer and absolve yourself or the customer from any wrongdoing. Good customer service does not focus on fault-finding. If there was a mistake, apologize, and resolve the issue regardless of who was at fault. Effective customer service is about finding solutions not fault.
It is a natural reaction for us to defend ourselves if we feel threatened by any repercussions. We might end up scapegoating or shifting the blame to someone else or even the customer. But pointing a finger at someone else will not solve anything. It will not solve anything or even delay the resolution further.
“Passing the buck” may reduce the trust of your customers in your business. Saying “it’s not my fault so I cannot help you” may make your company seem incompetent. The best thing to do is to work together with the customer or another department to find a solution. Even if someone else is truly at fault, there may be other factors to consider. Offer your support rather than criticize them.
2. Treat Customers as a Transaction
Effective customer service does not end after they have made a purchase. Customers are not mere transactions or just another job to do. Your aim is to build a relationship with them not to lose them due to poor customer service. As Ron Johnson, Apple’s former retail chief, once said, “Care about a customer’s heart, not just their pockets.”
Don’t look at people coming to your website as a potential sale. Do all your best to build strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers. If they make a purchase, nurture them and do your best to maintain a relationship with them. Keep providing solutions and keep in touch with them, regardless of the profit they bring to your business.
Even if you solve the problem and the conversation seems finished, follow up with them to make sure that their issue has already been resolved. You should do your best in retaining customers, and building brand loyalty. By doing so, it will spark word-of-mouth advertising that could bring in additional buyers.
3. Use Jargon
Using jargon is another common customer service mistake you should avoid. Not all customers are tech-savvy and understand jargon like you. You need to speak to them in a language that they will understand. Instead of World Wide Web, say “Internet” or replace “bleeding edge” with “new” or “innovative”.
As much as possible, use a language that your customers will understand. Avoid technical terms, slang, and other phrases. Using jargon would make customers feel alienated and unwelcome. Train your staff to use language that the customer can easily grasp. Using jargon can mislead and confuse customers.
It may be difficult for your team not to speak in jargon especially if they are already familiar with it. Avoiding jargon not only shows customers that you care about them but also helps in building lasting relationships built on clear communication.
4. Avoid Accountability
Regardless of who is at fault, effective customer service requires owning up to the mistake, apologizing, and taking responsibility. Your primary focus is to restore the customer’s faith in your product or service and find an immediate solution to the issue. Taking responsibility shows customers that you really care about them.
Showing accountability removes the habit of making excuses and blaming others, most likely the customer. Taking responsibility includes actions such as responding to a query immediately, answering the phone, or following up to ensure that the process was done right. Accountability sends a signal to the customer that they are important and this can contribute to earning the customer’s loyalty.
Not accepting responsibility can have a huge impact on customer loyalty. It means replacing the “not my responsibility” mindset with “It’s my job” or “It is my responsibility.” By being responsible we can earn the trust of our customers. Customers need to be given what they need and if they are not getting it, it means you are not taking ownership of the problem.
5. Ignore Customer Feedback
Knowing what customers say about your business can help you with business growth. It is worth noting that only 1 out of every 26 customers is likely to bring up their complaints with the other 25 simply taking their business elsewhere without saying a word. This goes to show that customer feedback is important so don’t ignore it and act on it as soon as possible.
When your customers speak out, make sure that you listen to them. Keep an open mind to their suggestions because it will be beneficial to you in the long run. Customer feedback can help point out aspects of your product that need improvement. Your products are designed for customers and so they should be as close to what they want as possible.
Listening to their feedback makes the customer feel that they are involved and important to your business. Once you have ironed out the issues that the customer raised in their feedback, you can deliver a better customer experience and in the process generate more positive reviews. Negative customer feedback should also be valued because it will help you devise a winning growth strategy.
6. Be Unprofessional
When dealing with customers, it can be hard to stay professional, especially in the heat of the moment. You can easily forget that you are working for a company and representing it. No matter how rude or insulting the customer might be, maintain your professionalism. The customer might just be frustrated or disappointed which is why they are acting that way.
Excellent customer service starts with being professional in your dealings. It’s the attitude expected from every customer service. Customers may behave differently during the call, and reps or agents should stay calm and do their best to relax the customer. Of course, keeping a level head while serving a frustrated customer is easier said than done.
Regardless of the manner of speaking by the customer, you need to maintain a helpful and positive attitude. Always keep in mind that you are there to help them find a solution to their concern. It’s easy to get defensive and match the behavior of the customer but nothing will happen if you will get involved in a shouting match with the customer.
The key to a great customer experience is great customer service. Keep these Do’s and Don’ts in mind and you will never go wrong and exceed customer expectations.
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