Gaining that all important edge over your competitors can be a tough ask especially with constant advances in technology, however one thing your business can do that requires little effort yet returns great results is improving your customer service.
Making customer service a priority in any business is a sound decision. By making your staff more accountable and focusing attention on your customer you can achieve an increase in sales and improved goodwill. The Business Queensland website (https://www.business.qld.gov.au) shows that research indicates it costs up to 10 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer.
Good customer service can help your business grow by increasing:
- customer numbers through favourable word-of-mouth advertising
- the dollar amount spent per customer per transaction
- the frequency of customer visits.
1. Define your business mission and create measurable goals
By understanding your business niche you can identify what you do best. The clarity that comes with this allows business owners to determine who needs you to do what and how you can best approach these prospects.
Once you have developed a clear mission it is time to think about weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. Setting result driven goals is an excellent way to measure progress and increase activity. It is important that goals are revised regularly, and adjustments made for changes that may occur within the business or market place.
2. Gather customer feedback
In order to provide good customer service, you need to understand who your customer is and what they require from your business. Each customer will have a different perception of what customer service means to them and if you want to improve your current position you should understand their needs and how to fulfil them.
Soliciting feedback from customers is essential in improving your overall business and this can be done via various means including, social media, customer service telephone number, email address or by texting or emailing surveys. Regardless of the manner, the important thing is identifying whether your business is meeting or exceeding customer’s expectations. Use the comments you receive to increase your sales by improving your products or service.
3. Minimise follow up time
Once you have received customer feedback whether it be positive or negative respond quickly! The most efficient aspect of using a platform like social media is it works fast, is easy to use and allows businesses to quickly connect with their consumers. Customers are increasingly turning to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google to voice their experiences online and they expect to receive a response within a 24-48 hours.
From time to time you will be faced with negative feedback and may be tempted to dismiss it, however instead of taking it personally, take it as a great opportunity to turn your customer’s experience around. Studies show when a business fails to meet customer expectations, customers will do business elsewhere. Poor customer service and the perceived indifference of staff and management account for more than 60% of customers who don’t return to a business. Addressing a complaint or bad experience in a timely manner shows customers that their voices are being heard and they are valued.
4. Build your processes around the customer
The key to really understanding how your customer service process works is to experience it for yourself. Business owners should remain engaged with both the consumer and service staff by taking the time to serve customers directly and seeing first hand how the processes work. By taking the opportunity to do this a business owner you can easily identify any obstacles that may be getting in the way of good customer service.
Aligning yourself with front line staff provides a chance to uncover issues or challenges that hinder them from achieving exceptional service levels. Highlighting the service pressure points that affect your speed of response and customer waiting times will allow your team to maintain momentum and remain focused on the task at hand.
5. Meet expectations
Make sure customer service matches the promises your business has made by ensuring all advertising material reflects the nature of the product or service. Additionally, by making staff aware of current advertising and promotional activities they will know what customers are expecting when they come into the business.
6. Utilise incentives
Offering free goods, discounts and special buying opportunities to regular customers shows them that you value their custom and keeps them coming through your door. It is also the perfect way to to have your customers refer your business to their friends and family. Ideas to keep your customers coming back include: loyalty cards, cumulative discounts on selected lines, giving away free items with multiple purchases and hosting preview evenings.
7. Create a good first impression
The most important part of your customer service operation is the front-line staff. These employees are the face of your business and undeniably define how customers perceive your company’s products and services. These employees should be trained in conflict resolution, be empowered to exceed your customers’ expectations and have a positive attitude and willingness to help. A bad first impression is very hard to overcome.