Great customer service is one of the biggest drivers of customer satisfaction and retention. Customers care about the treatment they receive from a business - and how that engagement makes them feel - almost as much as they do the actual goods and services they purchase. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 68% of customers who disengage from a business leave due to the treatment they receive. So customer attrition related to negative experience is very real.
Common poor customer service complaints include long hold times, inefficient automated phone systems, disinterested representatives, lack of urgency, and the absence of issue resolution.
Another big stickler for many unhappy customers is when a business prioritizes rigid company policy to a degree that feels beyond market standards or maybe even common sense. Strict no-return policies that don’t take into account damaged goods or extenuating circumstances can be deal breakers for many customers.
The late Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, understood that the success of the online shoe retailer was greatly related to the company’s innovative approach to customer engagement and satisfaction. Hsieh is famously quoted as saying, “Customer service shouldn't be a department, it should be the entire company.”
While customer service budgets appear to be increasing, doing right by your customers doesn’t necessarily mean throwing a bunch of money at it. In fact, there are simple policies and procedures your business can implement today that cost nothing, but that can wield a massive impact on customer satisfaction and retention.
Top 3 Customer Service Hacks
1. Make It So Easy. Convenience can be a key differentiator and should be readily apparent throughout your customers’ engagement with your business. Reducing customer effort means quick response times, simple return policies, effortless exchanges, and impeccable follow through on the part of your organization. By providing dependable, accountable, and responsive service, your business builds trust and loyalty with your customers.
If you have a customer portal on your website, be sure that it is functional and that response times are quick. Also make certain that your phone system is user-friendly and ends with a live person on the line whenever possible. If long hold times are unavoidable, consider automated messaging that estimates the expected wait.
The concept is simple. Make your customers work as little as possible to get their needs met.
2. Take an Honesty Is the Best Policy Approach. When something goes wrong in the sales process or a customer is dissatisfied for any reason really, it is so easy to play the blame game. In fact, pointing fingers is almost a default for many businesses, regardless of their actual culpability. But lack of transparency and shirking responsibility can and will drive a wedge between your business and your customers.
Customers appreciate honesty, and the simple act of being forthcoming tends to make them much more patient for resolution, not to mention loyal.
3. Hire for Empathy. Building a positive customer service culture into your company vision starts with employing the right people. While experience and hard skills are certainly important, hiring for empathy and emotional intelligence can have a drastic and positive impact on your customer service, engagement, and loyalty.
The following are questions you can ask job seekers that will help vet for empathy:
- Can you describe a situation in which you dealt with a disgruntled customer?
- How do you react when someone asks you for help?
- Do you consider yourself to be empathetic? If so, how does that quality manifest itself?
- What is the best way to resolve a disagreement at work?
Enhanced customer service isn’t just about customer retention. By creating meaningful and positive customer engagement, businesses also build opportunities for increased sales, better word-of-mouth marketing, and ultimately a boost to their long-term growth.