By Sarah Lahav
Without satisfied customers, companies simply do not have bright futures. The trick for companies is to build lasting customer service that will keep customers satisfied over the long term. The key to building this lasting service is to promote engagement between your service efforts and the customers. These seven tips can help you to create this genuine engagement.
- Listen. The best people in customer service spend more time listening than talking. Let the customer articulate why they need help, why it is important to them, and how they want you to fix their issue(s), before diving into solving their problem. Treat them with respect and also appreciate that while a certain problem may seem insignificant to you, it may be incredibly significant to them.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Keep your customers updated on what projects you’re working on, how certain things may affect them, and how you’re working to meet their needs etc. Sometimes the most frustrating thing for a customer is simply being left in the dark.
- Take ownership of issues. Don’t make excuses to a customer who is complaining. They don’t care if it was your fault or not. They just want you to accept responsibility, understand their frustration, and most importantly address their issue.
- Manage expectations. Can’t solve a customer issue here and now? Ok, so you might have a legitimate reason that prevents you from fixing the issue today, but don’t expect the customer to be a mind reader. Let them know when their issue will be addressed, and if there is a reason for delay. If you don’t manage customer expectations they will likely feel frustrated and ignored.
- Add value. Don’t wait for customers to contact you with a complaint. Engage with them on a regular basis, provide advice, and help support them in their jobs (if you’re in the B2B sector).
- Understand different contact channels. If a customer contacts you on social media, don’t automatically respond by asking them to phone the helpdesk or contact you by email. If they wanted to engage with you via phone or email you they would have done so, but they chose social media likely because it was the communication channel most convenient to them. Of course, if upon investigation of their issue via social media you realize that you actually have to divert them elsewhere in order to help them, then this is of course acceptable.
- Always act upon outputs from customer satisfaction surveys. There’s no point asking for feedback if you’re not going to use it to actually improve your service. Don’t forget to let your customers know what you’re doing with their feedback. Many customers refuse to answer customer satisfaction surveys when it isn’t clearly demonstrated that action will be taken upon any feedback they provide. Prove that you’re listening by highlighting how you are going to address any issues raised, and provide evidence of fixes once they are complete.
Every company action that hits a target audience is fundamentally an act of customer service. It’s much broader than just the phone line and email queue, so companies must expand their thinking to expand what “customer service” entails in order to reach the optimal state of customer-to-company engagement.
Sarah Lahav is the CEO of SysAid Technologies.