What if we told you that there’s a way to grow your business by two to four times without developing a new product or receiving additional funding?
Exceptional customer service turns repeat and new customers into promoters. And these promoters have the potential to grow the lifetime value (LTV) of your brand by 1400%.
Needless to say, many brands are taking notice of the financial benefits improving customer service can have for your bottom line. In 2019, 67% of consumers believe that companies are actively improving their customer service. New technologies, better training methods, and an increased emphasis on delivering the best customer service have yielded some impressive customer sentiment results. A recent American Express survey found that 81% of customers feel that the support they receive meets or exceeds expectations.
However. What happens when a business gets customer service wrong? Is the negative impact on a brand as drastic? Yes.
With 54% of global consumers saying that their customer service expectations are rising, 89% of customers are claiming to leave a business after one poor customer service experience. Enhancing your customer service is one of the most valuable things you can do for your company. This guide will help you achieve that goal faster and more cost-effectively.
Measure and monitor customer experience
“Measure twice, cut once.”
The same applies when improving customer service. Making unguided changes to your customer experience (CX) strategy based on ‘feeling’ instead of measurement and continuous benchmarking could end up hurting your support team and the brand at large. Investing dollars and effort into something that might work is a risk to be avoided.
Deciding the best ways your team can improve customer experience is by actively collecting customer feedback to see what’s working well and what needs improvement. As we explore below, this data can be obtained from a few different sources.
Gather customer experience feedback
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) are two well-researched ways to collect customer feedback post customer service interaction quickly.
CSAT and CES are particularly useful because of their simplicity. After a customer service experience, a customer is asked one simple question:
- CSAT: “How satisfied were you with [service provided/resolution of your issue]”
- CES: “How easy did we make it to do X?”
This unambiguous and quick survey question sent automatically to the right people at the right time allows you to measure specific types of customer interactions and clearly see which areas:
- Need the most improvement
- Can be quickly addressed
- Are the most pressing
Because it’s only one question, you’ll get more responses in a shorter period. Therefore, you can quickly take action to improve customer service and overall customer experience.
That said, if you need more detailed information about a specific area, there is the option of sending surveys to smaller, more targeted customers. These surveys can include more questions and open-ended fill-ins that can help collect qualitative feedback. Before deciding to send out additional surveys, we recommend using specific criteria to segment your follow-up survey audience. Some sample segments include:
- Long-time customers
- Just made 2nd purchase
- Recently wrote you a review
Gather customer service employee feedback
Open forum team meetings and calls for input from employees can be used to gather details, but they aren’t effective ways to get your finger on the pulse of your customer service department.
The eNPS survey asks if your employees are happy. Low customer support eNPS scores are a leading indicator that the support they are providing is not optimal and that they are potentially disengaged from your company’s messaging efforts.
Evidence shows that when companies treat support employees better, customers are attended to with more care.
Customer service with a personal touch: Monitor and respond to customers on social media
As an incredibly vast public community, your company’s reputation on social media can be both incredibly beneficial and painfully detrimental. Although complicated to dissect, these stats highlight why attention to social media is worth the effort:
- 40% of people use social media to keep in touch
- 41% want to stay informed about current events
- 29% use social media to discover/research/buy something
- 30% are here to share their opinions (often about businesses)
Praise or persecution. Social media is a megaphone for your customers to laud your company with positive feedback, refer your goods or services to others, and create organic brand awareness. Unfortunately, that same megaphone, more often than not, is also used to express some incredibly sensitive grievances about your company publicly.
Many customers take to social media, especially Twitter, to call out product defects and lapses in services provided. It’s also common for customers to complain publicly about long support wait times and perceived customer service ineptitude.
While tracking everything mentioned on social about your brand is outside the scope of traditional customer service, being attentive to what your customers are saying can help you stay ahead of trends and address waining customer satisfaction.
Monitor and respond to reviews
Review sites like Yelp, Google My Business (GMB) or even WebRetailer, are where people go to air grievances, but also scream to the rooftops about how wonderful your customer service is.
90% of people say that reviews influence their buying choices. 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews promptly. Yet 63% say that most businesses don’t.
And this hurts. Not only are you missing out on an area where you might be able to improve customer service for that person and others, 45% of people say they’re swayed to visit businesses that respond well to negative reviews. And many customers will change a review once something is fully resolved.
Take time to train your team
Using the data you’ve gathered, target the customer service areas that need urgent improvement. While getting bigger and better technology helps you keep up in your industry, it’s still your people and their interpersonal skills who can make the greatest impact.
In a busy contact center, finding time for training isn’t easy, especially if you have significant turnover. Time invested in team training and support reduces turnover and enhances the experience of customers.
Teach your team to be active listeners
According to the Harvard Business Review, the average listener can only recall about 25% of what someone has said. Active listening isn’t something that everyone does intuitively. This doesn’t bode well for customers who may be trying to explain complicated scenarios. Most customers dislike having to repeat themselves to clarify something that they’ve overstated.
Failure to listen actively can happen in all contact center channels. Someone could skim a text, chat, email, or social post. They might also plaster their own emotions over the words to the point that they misread or hear something.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to active listening. You can do this formally or more casually on an ongoing basis. Have your customer service reps team up in pairs for 10-15 minutes a week (paid, of course).
Each person takes turns talking about a specific topic for 1-2 minutes. The other person reflects back what the first person communicated. Then switch. As they continue to improve, add additional active listening elements like:
- Eye contact vs. staring
- Avoiding distractions
- Asking open-ended questions
- Using empathic language to show you understand
Empathy has a way of saturating an organization. When employees feel that management empathizes with them, they often do the same for their customers. Like active listening, displaying empathy may be more intuitive for some folks while incredibly challenging for others.
As explored below, empathy games can help your team expand their emotional intelligence.
Mirror me for adults
Yes, we all played this in Kindergarten! But therapists often use it to help couples learn empathy. Two people face each other with hands almost touching then they move their hands together in various patterns. Each person must learn to predict the actions of the other to stay in sync.
Remember the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Improv is when actors have no script. They simply play off each other’s actions to act out a given prompt without verbally communicating about what they’re going to do. As they practice, they’ll learn to pick up on subtle queues and work together.
Put tools into your customer service team’s hand to enhance their knowledge of not only what they do but also what other departments do. A great customer service rep can help a customer because they have experienced it themselves.
- Sandboxes – These are internal sections of your website with which an employee can create a mock order, walk through a process, start a chat, and see things from the customer’s point of view.
- Cross-departmental meet and greets – Invite peers from other departments to a meeting to answer questions, show a presentation or otherwise help your agents better understand what they do.
- Review existing resources regularly – Do they need to be updated? Are they accurate? A customer service team is only as good as the accuracy of the knowledge you put at their fingertips.
Enhance omnichannel training
Customers today expect to be able to contact customer support through many methods. Often a person uses multiple methods for one issue. But managing all of these channels can be cumbersome for representatives. Part of training is making sure that agents can effectively navigate the omnichannel experience.
Expand the self-service experience
Self-service doesn’t mean increasing the number of phone options. Overwhelmingly, customers today want to be able to help themselves online. A ZenDesk survey found that 75% of customers think that self-service is the most convenient way to get help. From how-to YouTube videos to tutorials to actionable blog posts, making information accessible and easy to find will yield an overall better customer experience.
When customers can help themselves, they generally feel more content with the customer experience overall.
Build customer relationships and loyalty
Ultimately, exceptional customer service is is about the relationships built between customers and customer service reps. This relationship is built on trust and understanding. It says we’re collecting customer feedback and listening to you. We understand how customers feel about the various challenges or areas that need improvement. We’re continually working to improve customer service and the overall customer experience. We value you as a customer.
So, what’s the status of your customer service program? Are you building long-term relationships with your customers? Do they see your brand as a leader in providing exceptional customer experience?