A business is nothing without great customer service, so how does your reputation with clients and customers stack up? If you want to improve your business and keep your customers happy, a few small changes could have a huge impact on your success. From avoiding automation tools to taking advantage of your email list, here are five simple ways to give your customer service a boost.
Keep automation to a minimum
Something that can be frustrating for customers is dealing with automated services, especially when they're trying to make a phone call to your business. Today's technology makes it easier for businesses, but if your setup is making things more difficult for your customers, you may need to make some changes. Just because the technology exists, doesn't mean you should be using it, said Leon Rbibo, president of The Pearl Source, a Los Angeles-based jewelry business.
"We implement live chat features and have a very complex system for tracking and flagging customer service issues," Rbibo said. "Yet we keep phone automation to a minimum when a customer dials The Pearl Source. We recognize that automation is a major pain point for consumers, so why put them through the ringer each time they call?"
Rbibo said that in many cases, it can actually cost businesses less to have live people on the phone dealing with customers.
"This keeps customers happy, and happy customers are customers who continue to do business with you," Rbibo said.
You can't offer good customer service if you're not a good listener, so if you want happy clients, you'll need to work on your active listening skills. Don't just wait for the customer to stop talking so you can say your part — really listen, and find a way to make customers have a great experience.
"Open communication is key for every kind of relationship, and business interactions are no different," said John Kinskey, founder and president of AccessDirect, a virtual phone systems provider. "If a customer has a request, it's important to get all of the details correct the first time. This will instill confidence in you on their part, and they will feel more comfortable coming to you in the future."
And if you're dealing with a customer's complaints, it's important to stay calm and do your best — even if you think or know your business didn't do anything wrong.
"When a customer is angry or frustrated, try to take the emotion out of the situation and really hear what the issue is," Kinskey said. "This will both calm them down and also help you get the situation resolved more quickly. It's so simple, but it's so important — just listen." [6 Social Media Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid ]
Give your employees some power
If you or the managers of your business are the only ones with the ability to make important decisions or changes, it can be frustrating for customers in need of assistance. That's why you should trust your team with some level of power and train them to use it wisely, said Aisha Martin, founder of A. Martin Group, a PR and business consulting agency.
"Give your team, especially those who have direct contact with your customers, the ability to [handle] a situation," Martin said. "For example, everything shouldn't have to go to upper management. When your staff knows they have the power, based on the circumstance, to make a customer's experience better, it's a win-win for all."
Martin said that in order for this to be successful, you need to train your staff properly and form important boundaries. But if done right, giving your employees that little bit of power will work out better in the end, Martin said.
Stay in touch
Don't just offer your services or make a sale and let that be that. Checking in with your clients, even if you don't think they need anything from you, is a good idea, said Harry Ein, owner of Perfection Promo, a promotional products company.
"Make sure [customers or clients] are happy with the product or service you have provided them, and make sure they know you are available," Ein said. "I prefer checking in by phone, but be sure to respect your customers' time and their preferred method of communication."
Ein said that staying in touch shows your dedication and commitment to them as a customer, and it keeps you on their radar so that the next time they need a product or service that you provide, they will think of you first.
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Take advantage of your POS system
If you're not using your POS (point of sale) system beyond ringing up customers and printing receipts, you could be missing out on a great customer service opportunity — using email to keep in touch.
"Many new point-of-sale terminals and mobile payment apps have a feature that lets you email a receipt to an in-store customer," said Stephen Sheinbaum, founder of Bizfi, an alternative financing company. "When you ask, 'Can I email you your receipt?' the customer gets a digital record of the purchase and you get another name for your mailing list."
Taking advantage of features like this can help you stay in touch with customers and potentially even make more future sales.
"This can help build your marketing down the road," Sheinbaum said.