In today’s economy, it’s the customers who call the shots. With the internet putting thousands of options into reach, a single interaction can send a company spiraling to fame – or extinction. As such, there’s an immense pressure on companies to get that interaction right. Yet, customer service remains mired in stereotypes of lackluster encounters with tired, glassy-eyed clerks. The quest of how to improve customer service is an uphill battle at best.
Yet, rethinking customer service is vital to modern business. Oracle found that 86 percent of consumers have said they’re willing to spend more to work with a company which provides an exceptional end-to-end experience.
That means it’s no longer enough to simply provide a fantastic service or product. The average modern consumer is perceptive and demanding when it comes to the entire brand interaction. Read on to learn how approaches to customer service have shifted, and how to improve customer service in a modern company.
Building Trust: Why Client Relationships Matter
Over the last decade, consumer expectations have transformed. Long gone are the days when a company could simply roll into town, advertise a great product, and make a fortune. Economic instability, a series of high-profile security breaches, and numerous revelations of the ways major brands have misused consumer information have led to an all-time low for consumer trust.
As a result, businesses now face the additional challenge of not simply proving that they have a great product or service. They have to prove that they’re worth a customer’s time in the first place. Building trust and relationships with customers is now a critical business survival skill.
The ubiquitous internet presence means that customers can – and do – go where they feel good about spending money. There’s an axiom: people do business with those they know, like, and trust. In today’s economic climate, it’s never been truer.
The Ripple Effect and The Customer Journey
In marketing, the customer journey is the entire experience an individual has with a brand from the point of first contact through the end of contact altogether. It’s much more than simply what happens while a customer is interacting with a sales rep or store staff.
Most individuals come in contact with a brand long before they ever set foot in the physical store or peruse the company’s online offerings. Smart marketers recognize this and spend a great deal of time ensuring that the first point of contact for a potential consumer is a pleasant one. However, beyond social media and a web presence, a customer journey can also start at any of the following points:
· A Yelp review
· Content sharing platforms, like Reddit
· A blog post
· A news article
· Word of mouth
· Internet search
Notice anything? A significant number of first points of contact lie outside a company’s direct control because they originate from other people. Often, these other people are current or former customers who are conveying experiences they’ve had with the brand. Customer service has a direct impact on how and why those experiences are conveyed.
Think of Customer Service as a Two-Way Street
It might be tempting to view customer service as a performance or a presentation. The term service implies that the company is doing something for the customer. However, customer service is ultimately an interaction between a brand and the customer. That means it’s a two-way street, and savvy brands will emphasize customer participation in the service element. There exist a few strategies to accomplish this:
1. Create ways to provide feedback and listen to it.
Listening to consumers is not just good for staying in touch with market demands. The easiest way to inspire confidence and trust in a customer is to encourage feedback and listen to it.
2. Reward loyalty.
The Pareto principle states that 80 percent of all effects come from 20 percent of all causes. This is true when it comes to customers, too. Let customers know that their referrals and repeat business are deeply appreciated.
3. Tailor the customer journey.
Consumers generally expect a level of customization in their brand experiences. However, when done correctly, customization can improve the customer service experience because it helps to show that a company cares enough about customers to maintain knowledge of unique needs, challenges, and goals.
How to Improve Customer Service by Investing in It
Need some ideas to improve customer service? Try these:
· Provide deeper training on the brand and company values.
· Support team members with one-on-one coaching.
· Develop easier ways to process orders and transactions.
· Emphasize personalization in every interaction.
· Anticipate and fix problems ahead of time.
· Create incentives for employees, too.
Experience Excellence from Start to Finish
Amazing customer service is no longer a feature which sets a company apart from the competition. Consumers expect every business to create a customer journey which makes that first visit – and all subsequent visits – worth it. Never underestimate the power of customer service.