Customer Service Excellence Techniques That Will Make You Smile
Customer service excellence has always been a goal of most companies, even back in the “old days.” It’s hard to believe today, but it really wasn’t that long ago when shopping at “brick and mortar” stores was about the only kind of shopping that you could do … outside of ordering something by phone out of a catalog. (Raise your hand if you remember getting excited as a kid when the Sears catalog came in the mail. Like me, you’re officially old!) They used to say that the customer was king, but seemingly few meant it because outside of big cities, your shopping options were limited. They had the customers over a barrel many times.
However, today customers literally have the world at their fingertips on the Web. Customers not only expect customer service excellence from companies … they demand it! It is the biggest differential between you and a hundred other places offering similar or the same product.
The best businesses strive to improve customer service daily on both an individual and departmental basis. Unfortunately, some try to do it without a clear customer service strategy and implementation plan. That makes it impossible to maintain meaningful relationships with their valued customers, or create strong relationships with new ones. To advance current customer service practices, business leaders must define two sets of goals. First for the department as a whole, and then for individual representatives to better serve your clientele.
Here are four steps to follow for setting the kinds of goals your organization needs to achieve customer service excellence:
Focus on the department first
To set goals for customer service excellence, management needs to first gather and analyze data on the company’s client relationships. Seeing how the service department performs gives leadership insight into where the team can improve. Setting team goals requires knowing these specific data points so practical decisions can be made. Data, in terms of calls answered per hour or queries resolved each week, for example.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that the #1 most important factor in customer loyalty is the reduction in customer effort. In other words, make it EASY for your customer to contact you … buy from you … return goods to you … and interact with you after the sale. In addition, a survey by Forrester Research revealed that 77 percent of the people surveyed said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with customer service excellence. While those things are carried out by your reps, it starts with an organizational process.
Help individuals set goals
Once organizational goals are defined, managers and supervisors should observe their customer service group in action. Then, zero in on the individual, helping them create a set of goals based on their skills and ambitions. It’s important to remember that individual goals must ultimately tie in to helping the company reach its goals.
For instance, Twitter cites the fact that customer service reactions over Twitter with companies like yours have increased more than 250 percent over the last two years. In addition, experts say that answering a social media complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25 percent. Therefore, a logical step would be to have employees monitor social media as part of their duties even if it’s only part-time during their day.
Your customer service representatives will all have weak points in their skill sets. Here, the supervisor assists the employee with deciding what training the individual needs to strengthen weaknesses. It’s also here that supervisors define the metrics required to measure improvement for the employee and clarify what they need to do. Finally, to let the employee know when he or she must finish, add timelines, check-ins and deadlines for finishing the training.
Setting client-specific goals
Trust is fundamental to every good buyer-seller relationship. Customers trust you to have effective disaster recovery and customer service action plans in place. These will handle any security breach, recall or widely publicized event that directly impacts customers. Communication during a tense time or regarding a popular issue is crucial to maintaining trust and keeping customers from going elsewhere. Creating a disaster recovery or customer service action plan should be a priority if businesses don’t already have them in place.
Ask for feedback
It’s imperative that your company leadership encourage feedback from both customers and employees, the parties directly impacted by the service standards. Customers especially can offer great insight into a client services department. Similarly, employees have a front row seat to customer care seeing the effects of new policies, procedures and tactics first-hand. Use relevant information to enhance your current system, and discover the best way to help the team meet current goals. Then, set more challenging ones to propel the company further. Again, the key to successful customer relationships is the drive to always improve.
For better or worse, the channels to deliver customer service—such as having a room full of reps on the phone talking to clients—are changing. You’ll get left behind if you don’t change as well. A recent survey by conversocial.com showed that 32% percent of those surveyed found the phone to be the most frustrating way to engage customer service. Customer service of the future will have to incorporate social media because the Millennials and younger
With multiple brand options for consumers to choose from, don’t be surprised if customers abandon your company for your competitor because of poor customer service. Social customer care, and messaging channels in particular, are revolutionizing the customer experience. They offer in-the-moment resolution with a human touch. Something that the traditional call center model has lost.
However, even though the methods of contact with customers are changing, that doesn’t mean the ways to achieve customer service excellence is changing.