Companies that sell luxury items like designer handbags and accessories tend to make customer service a top priority. These brands target an affluent demographic that expects nothing but the best, especially when they're spending a lot of money on products.
Crown & Caliber, a company that consigns watches from brands like Rolex, Breitling and Cartier, has learned a lot about what the luxury market wants from the businesses they patronize.
"When dealing with expensive items, it is important to portray trust and professionalism," said CEO Hamilton Powell. "Excellent customer service is the best way to put a customer at ease. Successful customer service representatives will portray empathy and will make the owner feel comfortable placing their beloved [luxury item] in safe hands."
Your business likely doesn't offer "white-glove" service and cater to the rich and famous, but that doesn't mean you can't give your customers the star treatment. It's just as important — if not more so — for smaller businesses to adopt the luxury mentality when dealing with their customers. Powell offered a few lessons he's learned to help businesses improve their level of service. [3 Ways Customer Service Has Changed (And How to Adapt)]
Be empathetic. The most important thing your customer service team must have is empathy. Your reps may be knowledgeable about the product and your business processes, but customers won't feel well cared for if they aren't treated with respect and understanding. Powell said that Crown & Caliber employees follow what they call the "Grandma Standard."
"When working with a customer, our team has the mentality of, 'What if this person were my grandma?'" he said. "How would I treat him or her?"
Collect regular feedback. It really doesn't matter how you think you are doing on customer service, Powell said. What matters is how your customer thinks you are doing. Crown & Caliber performs quarterly Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys with its customers to get an idea of how the team is doing and where it needs to improve.
Track customer service metrics. You can't improve upon what you aren't tracking. Powell noted that his company's customer service team has very specific metrics reported to them on a daily basis, such as the percentage of repeat customers and the amount of time spent on the phone.
Be available for your customers. Customers want to know that their voice is being heard and that their concerns are your concerns. Social media, especially Twitter, is a great way to immediately listen and respond to customers who may have an issue, Powell said. But being quick to respond to tweets and comments isn't the only way you should be available to customers. Powell emphasized the importance of taking phone calls for customers who want to speak directly with a service representative.
"It is difficult to build a strong rapport with a customer when the only form of communication is [digital]," he said. "Speaking with customers on the phone does take a bit more time than just emailing them, but it shows them they are worth the customer service representative's time."
Get the entire company on board with customer service. No matter how great your customer service team is, your customers will end up with a fragmented experience if the whole company doesn't have an integrated process for handling customer concerns. Powell noted that Crown & Caliber's head of customer service meets weekly with its head of operations so that the company's processes can constantly be tweaked to better serve the needs of the customer.
Powell reminded business owners that, regardless of your company's size, industry or target market, the customer should always come first.
"It is important to build a relationship with the customer so that they feel like more than just a transaction," Powell told Business News Daily. "Smaller companies should make this the foundation to their company. Build your company on the idea that your company is built to fill customers' needs, and their need should be the priority. No company is too big or too small to provide customers with excellent service."