As a business owner or manager, it’s your job to make sure your customers have positive experiences when they encounter any issues with your company. Whether you run a restaurant, hotel, or software company, you can, and should, provide amazing customer service that will keep customers coming back. To do that, you need to make sure amazing customer service is a top priority.
The importance of customer service
Many believe customer service is hard to quantify because it depends on relationships. That’s actually not the case. The quality of your customer service is directly connected to your company’s bottom-line.
If you have great service, customers are more likely to continue using your company’s services, even if they have to pay more.
In fact, there’s a significant amount of proof that the quality of customer service is often a deciding factor for customers. These are just a few of the stats that show just how important customer service is:
- 39% of customers avoid vendors for 2+ years after a bad experience.
- 50% use a company more frequently after a positive customer experience.
- 86% say they would pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience.
In the end, great customer service can differentiate you from competitors, help you retain customers, and encourage customers to pay premium for your offerings. Plus, if you run a restaurant, customer service ties into the sorts of reviews you get on sites like Yelp, as well.
The breakdown of customer service
No matter the business or team within the business, customer service is made up of the same components: the processes you have in place, the tone you use with customers, the content you provide to help customers, and the measurement of how well you’re doing. Let’s take a look at each.
Even if you have the best intentions, disorganization ruins customer service. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to. This is where processes come into the picture.
When managing employees and delegating responsibilities that relate to customer service, you need to have processes in play so that your team knows exactly how to interact with customers and handle problems should they arrise. This includes specifying who is responsible for each task, how your staff is held accountable for their duties, the chain of command, and how to proceed when customer service issues come up.
For example, if I’m managing a restaurant’s service staff, I would have a clearly defined process for set-up, service, and take-down, as well as for problem situations. This way, everyone is on the same page about what they’re doing and how to treat customers and their complaints should they have any.
Don’t forget tone
No matter how clear your customer service processes are and how closely they’re followed, if an innapropriate tone (irritated, nonchalant, angry) is used with a customer, nothing else will matter because tone is heard before the actual words. So much so that sometimes it’s the subtleties that make the big difference.
For example, the following two messages say exactly the same thing, but vary greatly in how they come across:
Tone 1: Dear Sir, thank you for your inquiry. You will receive a message from us shortly.
Tone 2: Yo. Yeah sure. We’ll hit you up.
The latter may not go over so well if the call was in regards to setting up a reservation at a restaurant. The customers are likely to go elsewhere because, from the tone, they pervieced there would be no follow up.
Instruct your staff on how to speak to different types of customers and in varying situations. This will ensure that the message is being heard as it should.
Measure success with sentiment
Customer service isn’t any good if you’re not measuring it. You need to know whether or not it’s working, and if it isn’t, what needs to change. This can only be done with feedback. At all times, you need to be checking in to make sure that your staff is performing well and that your customers are happy with the service they’re getting.
There are a number of ways you can do this:
- Speak to customers while they’re in house. Walking around tables and asking how everything is going can be a good starting point.
- Collect customer surveys using survey cards or by way of a digital platfrom such as Survey Monkey. To increase response rate, try including an incentive for giving feedback.
- Look to Yelp reviews, Google reviews, Angie’s List reviews, and other review sites.
Amazing customer service can make all the difference. Great service is about a lot more than business– it’s about fostering relationships with your customers that are long-lasting and mutually beneficial. As a leader within the business, it’s your job to make sure your company is doing all it can to provides experiences that delights your customers, exceeding their expectations with every interaction.