Someone once said that sales without customer service is like stuffing money into a pocket full of holes. I couldn’t agree more. From my own experience, I’ve been able to grow my company’s conversions by 250%, just by talking to my customers. Undoubtedly, understanding customer service can make you better at business. With that in mind, here are 10 customer service lessons every entrepreneur should learn.
The biggest mistake any business owner can make when it comes to customer service is to assume that they understand what the customer wants. Don’t approach a customer with a list of scripted questions– simply ask how they use your product or service, what they like, and what they don’t. Then listen. What you gain– if you’re willing to listen without judgement– will be invaluable.
Keep your promises
Promises are a very big deal to customers. It doesn’t matter if they’re made by a front-line representative or by the CEO, customers expect promises to be kept. If your company does a poor job following through on anything from promised upgrades, to a cancellation policy, you’ll lose customers and public trust very quickly.
Find the best tools to provide the best service
Customer tracking and service can’t be done on sticky notes, but being tempted into buying the cheapest customer relationship management (CRM) software can be just as problematic. Don’t do it. Instead, think about how to best empower your employees to give the service your customers deserve, and buy the CRM (or any other tool needed) that will make that happen. Your customers and staff will thank you for it.
You can win the battle and lose the war
This lesson relates specifically to disagreements with customers, and it can be a difficult one to learn. Too many entrepreneurs are so narrowly focused on what it’ll take for their businesses to succeed, that they fail to notice when exceptions to established policies are necessary.
Perhaps a customer is asking for something that’s against your policy. Maybe a customer wants a refund you normally wouldn’t grant. Before you simply say “No,” consider the cost of the exception compared to the lifetime value of a customer. While you can’t give every person out there a discount, ask yourself if it’s worth it to win this argument at the cost of losing the business.
How to avoid a brand meltdown online
In our hyper-connected world, it’s inevitable that someone’s going to say something nasty about you on social media at some point. That’s just the reality of being the public figurehead of a customer-facing company.
What’s important, though, is how you handle it. Whether it’s you or another staff member, make sure that the person in charge of your social media accounts is cool under pressure and focused on building trust and goodwill. Responding appropriately when these situations occur is one of the best ways to avoid a brand meltdown online.
Customers expect you to be available
You probably already know that having a customer service line that operates 9am – 5pm on weekdays won’t cut it anymore. But what you may not know is that customers expect you to be available on more platforms than ever before. If you rely only on online forums or don’t have real-time chat or email service available, it’s time to offer better service to interact with your customers where they are.
Hire employees on attitude and skills
When you hire someone into your business, it’s important to ensure that they not only have the skills to do the work, but that they have the right attitude. You only ever want helpful, friendly people in your business. When you hire people with a positive, cooperative attitude, you’ll be much better positioned to offer the kind of customer service that will stand out in your industry.
Your staff will treat customers the way they’re treated
Simply put, you can’t treat your staff poorly and expect them to give amazing customer service to your clients. As an entrepreneur, you should consider your employees like you would your customers, and strive to give them an amazing experience every day that they come to work.
Creating this type of atmosphere doesn’t have to be expensive. Simply making it a point to say thank you for great work when you see it can go a long way towards building employee confidence. But if you make it a point to treat your staff the way you’d like them to treat your customers, they’ll pass that “wow factor” on to everyone who interacts with your business.
Have a complaint handling system in place
One study conducted in 2013 demonstrated that 56% of customers who made a complaint got nothing in return, and there is nothing more frustrating to an already-angry customer than making a complaint and getting no results.
Even if you can’t fulfill a customer’s every desire, make sure that they at least feel heard. Whether it’s a letter, a callback, or even an email, make sure to give a personalized message and to inform the customer about how the concern was handled.
You can’t control what you don’t measure
When you’re trying to provide the best service possible, the proper measurement of your efforts is essential. Just as you wouldn’t deploy a landing page without tracking its impact on sales, you should have systems in place to understand how your service is going. Surveys can supply important data points, as can follow-up emails, and random sampling outcalls.
Customer service isn’t an area that can be overlooked in any business, no matter how high quality your product or service is. By learning these 10 lessons and applying them to your company, you’ll find yourself on your way to making a great impression on customers, and growing your business as a result.
What’s the biggest customer service lesson you’ve learned during your time in business?