“The key is when a customer walks away, thinking ‘Wow, I love doing business with them, and I want to tell others about the experience.”
Shep Hyken, Customer Service & Experience Expert, Hyken
“Excellent customer service is the number one job in any company. It is the personality of the company and the reason customers come back. Without customers, there is no company.”
Connie Elder, CEO & Founder, PEAK 10 SKIN
“Imagine your customer is your best friend. Listen to their concerns, be a shoulder to lean on, and then shift the focus from what went wrong to how you can help make it right.”
Rachel Hogue, Customer Service Manager, Azazie.com
“I guarantee you―spreadsheets, emails, and sticky notes won’t allow you to deliver service excellence.”
Jenna Dobkin, Director of Communications, Nimble, Inc.
When you Google anything related to customer service, thousands of blogs come up, and when I say thousand, they are precisely about customer service. What is it that people have been continuously writing about customer service and there’s still no end to it.
When I was researching for my next blog topic which would be relevant for businesses, customer service was one common term everywhere. I won’t lie, I did reject it at first, thinking that it must be an outdated topic now.
But, I saw how in recent weeks too, several articles have been poster by distinguished writers talking about customer service. That’s what made me start writing in this direction.
Now that 2020 is about to unfold, bringing closure to a decade, I wanted to write something that would serve as a recap of the changes in customer service in the last decade. And also, some tips to take your customer service one notch up in the coming year.
Recap of the transformation of customer service in 2010-20
It won’t be wrong to say that the power of customer-centricity has been well realized by businesses in the last few years. Specific people have been hired, departments have been created that takes the company’s service towards customer satisfaction too.
Earlier in the past decade, good customer service was confined to their pre-sales interaction. The moment customer had paid the bill, there was no quality check or measures to supervise the interaction and service done with the customer.
Sooner or later, businesses started to realize, how a customer has to be treated well even if its 5 years old. Not only because there could be chances of renewals or discontinuation, but the customer now carries your brand image with itself. The way you serve them impacts their overall impression of your business. And, certainly enters the whole word-of-mouth referral phenomenon.
Moving ahead, businesses started focusing on the mediums their customer would connect with them. Not remaining confined to calls or texts, emails, chatbots or even ticketing system entered into the picture to actually make the business more accessible to the customers. Organizations genuinely opened many doors for their customers to get what they need instantly.
In fact, customer service on calls too took one step ahead with their implementation of IVR systems. With an aim to provide faster on-call resolution and eliminate the long waiting duration of the customer, businesses started setting up IVR menu on their business numbers.
Looking at the fact that how customer satisfaction is the key indicator in gauging success, organizations even started to outreach customers as a part of their customer-nurturing strategy. Emails on festive discounts, exclusive offers, are shared with the paid customers, contrary to earlier times, when it was all done to attract new clients.
With this swift transformation in customer service, both the organizations as well as customers have realized the power or customers, and how it should be optimized well. The increasing ways of serving customers well has also increased the expectation of customers even from the mid-sized organizations.
Amongst several other factors, the way of serving customers has become another important aspect to judge the professionalism of a company.
Tips for better customer service in 2020
Gaining a comprehensive view of the customer journey is easier said than done. It’s time to take the initiatives that focus on adopting a customer-centric mindset. It’s time to develop a clear top-line strategy and a granular view of customer behaviour, that helps your organization match up to the customer expectations, and if possible, even go beyond that.
Here are a few tips to help your business fulfil its customer-centricity:
1. Remember the golden rule. Serve your customers the way that you would like to be treated as customers by other businesses. This principle should be at the forefront of your customer service strategy.
2. Move ahead from the fact that your customer experience can only be delivered through the person of contact. The other amenities provided through other mediums play an equally important role.
3. Inculcate the importance of customer service in your employees. This will reduce your efforts in making them treat the customers right by 50%. Make this as a part of overall KPI during your hiring decisions.
4. Don’t rely completely on bots. Where there are several mediums to make your customers reach out to your business, don’t make it complicated for them to reach a human. Until now, not all kinds of customers want to connect with bots for their query.
5. Add features such as co-browsing, screen sharing, instant messaging, video conferencing to make them feel the advancement inculcated in your service for their satisfaction.
6. Hire people who’ll precisely monitor your customer service. Ones who will supervise the response time to your customer queries, the way they have been communicated on call by your agents, who’ll understand your customer behaviour/experience and inculcate the required measures.
7. Don’t just work on referral rewards. Create a loyalty programme too for your customers and reward them appropriately for being with your business for all that considerable amount of time. Never miss a chance to remind them how special they are.
8. Every customer wants a resolution at the earliest. Redirecting calls through better IVR options, connecting with the right people, and training your team makes this possible. Don’t condemn customers to be bounced around forever.
9. Use social media to talk about your customers, their experience, their loyalty with your business. Let others also know how you keep your customers at the forefront.
10. While onboarding new customers you play your cards right to convert them into loyal customers in future. Give small gifts after their service activation, greet them will through email and acknowledge their onboarding with happiness.
11. Put in the use the advanced CRMs for your paid customers as well. Sync all their past details and interactions with your company, and empower your agents to serve them in the most personalized and fastest way. Make sure you don’t have to ask their last name even after their 2 years of joining with you.
12. Remind your customers yourself. Give them automated calls, messages or emails reminding them about activation dates, or removal of the credit card to prevent unwanted renewal, and so on. Make them feel that you just don’t want their money in return for the service given.
13. Take an extra step. Respond to your customer queries not only in their native language but also in their comfortable accent. A little humour with them won’t harm anything but will develop a more personal and friendly bond.
14. Keep the help/query section as accessible as you can. There should be an option for FAQ or chat or call right in front of them. However, always try there shouldn’t be many situations when the FAQ or chat section is unable to resolve their problem.
15. Always (not too frequently but) give them a platform to share their opinion/suggestions about your product and service. Take the customer survey not just for the good numbers but to actually work on the negative ones.
16. Don’t be hesitant to follow-up after your customer’s problem is solved. Be it an automated message/email or call, there should always be satisfactory closure from your end.
17. Surprise them on their special days. You might be in a B2B industry, sending special incentive to your customers on their birthday or business anniversary will always please your customers.
18. Make customer service cross-departmental. Don’t confine this to a particular team. Whether it is your tech team focusing on “good user experience”, your customer-front agents or marketers, everyone should be a part of the customer-centricity strategy.
19. Focus on more personalized emails. And personalization is not only about the first name. Divide your customers into categories as precise as possible and send them relevant content which would genuinely help them. Put email marketing to the best use for your customers.
20. Well, customers are not always right! They are people, they can go wrong. Learn to make them understand the right thing and not argue with them over the wrong one. The skill is to make them believe that what you’re saying is for their benefit only.
Achieving good customer service requires a top-line strategy, but its success ultimately depends on the outcome of different specific touchpoints. Joining these interactions into a cohesive, bigger picture of customer segments is no small task: it requires insights from across the organization.
Well, your customers should not just have a seat at the table; the function and its managers should be prepared to lead the charge.