Many see customer service as a shield – a way to defend their business from the dreaded leaky bucket syndrome. However, modern customer service has become about getting out in front of your customers (or potential customers) and letting them know that you’ve got them covered.
The bar has been raised in terms of what customers expect from your business. In fact, one might argue that it’s almost impossible to build a successful new brand without drop dead amazing customer service. The simple reason for this is that too many brands have made it the norm, the accepted state of play. Table stakes.
The best example of this is Zappos. Everyone has heard about their maniacal focus on customer service. In fact, they’ve built a whole company around ’wow’ customer service. Think free upgrades and a call centre that isn’t focused on getting its ‘complaining’ customers off the phone, but actually wants to help. If you ask me, this is some of the best marketing you can do. Some ‘I give a crap about my customers’ marketing is priceless. Which is great for Zappos, but not so great for the average 3 man start-up.
To help inject a little Zappos customer care magic into your business here are 3 really simple hacks to improve your customer service today.
1. Help Your Customers Before They Need It
Set up a customer support centre on your site and populate it with answers to common questions customers ask. This will allow your current (and future) customers to search out answers easily and be reassured that you’ll deal with a problem they’ve had or foresee they might have.
I’d suggest using the following format when populating your customer support centre:
- Problem in question form: ‘Do you offer refunds if I’m not happy with the product?’
- A frank answer to the question with an emphasis on your total devotion to customer service: ‘We’ll always do all we can to help you if you’re not happy with a product you’ve purchase from us. We offer….’
- Direct them to your other customer service channels in case they want to discuss it further: ‘If you still have any questions please feel free to call us on….’
People love knowing that they’re covered. I suppose you could call it emotional purchase insurance.
2. Have a Contact Number – A FREE one
An oldie but a goodie, the 1800 number (a free call number). There is absolutely no reason why it should cost an aggrieved customer anything to call you. When you have an angry customer, nothing works better than talking to them and being able to hear their concerns or grievances. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn about your customers and your product by speaking to the unhappy ones. Think about it as QA work.
I’ve personally spoken to customers who had a concern or were down right angry with us only to find it was simple problem that I could solve on the spot. I can report that a number of these customers have turned into some of our loudest mavens – all because we took the time to listen. It’s amazing how a little care and actually listening to a concern matters in customer service.
Another added bonus is that most companies who offer 1800 numbers include call metrics for free. These allow you to see when calls are being made and from where – very handy if you’re trying to gauge when you need to be free to take calls or where your customers are actually (geographically) from. Sort of like Google analytics for your phone.
3. Change Your Mindset
To dovetail in with point 2, if you really want to offer amazing customer service, you need to stop viewing complaints as a nuisance and start seeing them as an opportunity to learn about your customers and your business.
Yeah sure, there are some customers who like to complain for the sake of complaining. However, most of the time when a customer has a problem with your business it’s a genuine concern – so treat it that way.
Also, remember it’s always easier for a customer to stoping using your service or product than to speak up. So make sure you thank them for raising the issue and don’t be afraid to reward them for ‘complaining’!
Customer feedback is a great form of QA. So respect their frankness and take advantage of it!
What Can You Do Right Now To Improve Customer Service In Your Business?
Here are two quick things you can do right now to improve your customer service:
- Put your phone number on your site. If you don’t have a 1800 number just put your personal mobile number up with the tag line – ‘Have a problem or a question? Call me on my personal number now 0422…’
- Start listing common questions customer have asked you about your service/ product over the last week and begin formulating answers to those questions. Even if you don’t end up setting up a customer support centre you’ll be better equipped to answer customer concerns when they arise.
If you have any comments or would like to call me out on something in this post feel free to write a comment below.
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