How frustrating is it when a company doesn't seem to care that you're not satisfied with your purchase?
Having a bad experience with an order is unpleasant. But most of the time, if you have a good experience with the after-sales service, you generally come away feelling satisfied and positive. Some of us will even remember it as a good experience if they feel they've been taken good care of! You want to make a good impression so that people share the details with their friends and family and hopefully on social media. It's great to go to a company's Facebook or Twitter page and see happy customers.
Having worked in customer service for several companies in the past, I can assure you that taking care of customers' needs is as satisfying for you as it is for them. And vice versa - being unable to resolve customers' issues can be frustrating, although it's worse for the actual client. Good service isn't cost free though. It’s hard work that requires time, a dedicated work force, and most importantly, good training. But you should see it as a long term investment, as research has shown that it costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Here’s a guide to great customer service:
Personalise each communication
As easy and quick as they can be, template answers are also your biggest enemy. Receiving an answer that sounds like it’s been said a million times to millions of people in the same situation as yours is terrible. Each client is different, and faces a different issue. Create pro forma or standard answers that can be customized to suit it to particular situations.
Let people know that you are taking care of their problem. For every first contact, there should be an immediate answer, whether it provides a solution or not. Let people know you’re working on solving to their issue. Don’t wait for them to come back to you, because when they do, it means you haven't been quick enough for them.
Happy staff, happy customers
If your customer service employees are unsatisfied with their job or demotivated, your overall service will undoubtedly suffer. Don’t forget that they are human and will have ups and downs. As the voice of your company, it’s important they offer your customers a friendly, helpful and satisfying and experience.
At one of the offices I worked in, there was an ‘isolation room’ where you could go and sit for a few minutes when things got too tough. Then you could go back to your desk and continue with your work when you were in a better mood. It really helped a lot!
Have enough staff
If you have too few employees, your level of service level will be low. If there's an overwhelming amount of enquiries coming in (and 'overwhelming doesn't have to mean a flood - just too many for your team to handle quickly) compromises will have to be made somewhere. Whether this affects the speed or quality of your responses, this is a bad thing. If your staff is struggling with the workflow, it could be one of two things: either you have a problem upstream (like for instance a flaw in the shipping or in the development of a product), or your business is growing fast. In both situations, it’s important make good and appropriate decisions so you can continue providing good service.
Training, training and more training!
Never underestimate the value of having a team that is well-prepared. You can give the lessons and instructions yourself if you have enough experience, but I would recommend opting for professional trainers as they have a wider range of experience and knowledge. Once your staff have faced the situation in a ‘test’ environment, where they've had the chance to explore the possible answers, they will know how to react whenever they face similar situations in real life.
Processes and flexibility
Back when I was a Customer Advisor, where I would lose an insane amount of time was switching through programs, even though I had two large computer screens. I hated it because clients hate waiting and would get impatient. After some time, it was decided to switch to a system that included all functions, which resulted in service level rating growth of 11%, although we were already at 85% satisfaction beforehand. But no one was complaining because the new system was faster, more simple and 96% is MUCH better!
Even if it is meant to reassure an over-worried customer, you should never tell the client something you know is untrue, even partly. And if you don’t have the info, tell your customers! Would you rather have no answer or be told rubbish?
A common mistake is to assume that you will always be able to relay information to a customer that relies on a timetable. Wouldn't it be great if everything happened at the exact time it was supposed to? Great - but in a business setting, not always realistic. We all know schedules are essentially informative, so make sure you don't raise your clients' expectations unnecessarily. It's better not to disappoint them.
Of course, it may sometimes be necessary to keep part of the truth to yourself, for security or marketing reasons, but make sure you don't sound too mysterious either!
You’ve handled things well and your service level reached the KPIs. Wonderful! Now what do you do? Contact the customers who weren't satisfied with your service and ask them what would have made the difference for them. Then, work something out from the answers you get. You will never have 100% satisfaction, but should always aim for it.