The key to good customer service is trying to understand the customer’s point of view. I have seen customer service departments where people are working really hard trying to solve their customers’ problems, but since the customers never see all the work their rep is putting in, the business doesn’t get any good will for the service they’re trying to provide. On the contrary, if you keep your customer well informed of all the trouble you’re going through to try and fix the problem, then you build loyalty, and create customer relationships that stick.
Many ways to a good customer experience
There are many ways to improve your customer service, or more specifically to improve how your customers’ experience your service. Some improvements will require a lot of effort from your side, while others are fairly cheap and easy to implement. For instance, if you want to reduce the amount of time it takes to respond to a customer inquiry, you probably have to invest in tools and/or people. Needless to say, this can be costly and not something you can implement overnight. And it might even be an investment which doesn’t pay off (in terms of increased customer satisfaction and loyalty). Studies show that as long as your response times are reasonable, customers don’t care too much about them.
For instance, reducing your email response times from 8 to 4 hours will probably not be worth the effort.
Start with the low hanging fruit
Keeping your customers well informed of what is going on, however, is something you can do quite easily, and which will probably have a much higher impact on your customers’ experience.
I believe that as long as the customer knows that you have received their inquiry, and is working hard to solve it, the customer will be satisfied. In fact, I believe that if you get this right, you can convert regular customers to loyal ambassadors. The psychology is quite simple: if the customer gets the understanding that you’re working your a** off trying to fix the problem, then the customer will feel well taken care of and feels that he is getting his money worth.
At the other end of the scale, you have the scenarios where the customer sends you an email and doesn’t get any acknowledgement whatsoever for several days. That customer is naturally going to believe that you are not caring about his problem at all.
Get a service ticketing system
The first step towards keeping your customers in the loop is to use a service ticketing system which registers the inquiry and returns an email receipt immediately. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for a customer, knowing that the inquiry has been received and has been assigned a unique tracking number makes a huge difference. Without such a receipt, the customer is left totally in the dark, not knowing whether to expect a response within hours, days, weeks or never. Clearly that is not a very settling feeling, and as time passes by, the customer’s frustration will grow.
On the contrary, if I immediately get a receipt with a tracking number, then I have tangible evidence that you are in charge of solving the problem, and I can lean back with my feet on the table.
First response is important
Sending the initial receipt is important, but you can do better than that!
Let’s say that you have received an inquiry from a customer that isn’t easily solved. Perhaps it requires to you check with a 3rd party, such as a partner or sub-provider before you can respond. This could easily take several days, and meanwhile the customer will be waiting in the dark (increasingly frustrated). Just consider how you would react yourself. Unless someone has given you a good reason for being late, you might easily start thinking it’s because of carelessness or negligence.
If you just write a quick email to the customer, explaining the cause for the delay, I am sure you will get a lot more understanding, and in the long run more satisfied customers. With a good customer service tool, sending such a note could be done using a macro or email reply template, perhaps only taking you a few seconds. I believe keeping your customer informed like this is way more important than whether it takes 2 or 3 days to actually solve the problem.
Always keep the customer in the loop
I recently filled out a customer service web form at an online DVD shop, asking some questions about a movie missing in my shipment. Since it was an online form, I instantly got a tracking number and an email receipt (good).
However, after I had posted the inquiry, it took 8 days for them to get back to me. After 3 or 4 days without any response, I was starting to get quite annoyed, and started thinking that I should take my business (movie purchases) elsewhere.
When I finally got a response, I received a long email explaining that they were sorry for the delay, and the reason was that my movie was no longer for sale, and also out of stock. They had to especially order a single copy from abroad to complete my order. Imagine that; they had gone out of their way to satisfy my order (it would have been cheaper for them to just cancel that movie and refund me), but since they didn’t keep me in the loop, I was, by now, a dissatisfied customer.
Providing good customer service isn’t rocket science – it comes down a to good support tool and remembering to keep the customer in the loop at all times. Before you know it, you’re the customer service hero.
Interested in becoming a customer service hero? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.