Customer service is the direct one-on-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company that is selling it. Most retailers see this direct interaction as a critical factor in ensuring buyer satisfaction and encouraging repeat.
It’s great to invest in loyal customer schemes. Ensuring you and your staff are providing excellent customer service to your customers throughout the year will help your business prosper. Pay attention to your customers, listen to their wants and needs, and do everything you can to meet their expectations.
Importance of good customer service in a business
- Customer retention is far less expensive than customer acquisition
On average, it costs approximately five times more to attract a new customer to your business than it costs to retain an existing customer. That logic on its own should highlight the importance of providing excellent customer service. Why risk losing a customer? It’s costly enough to locate new customers in the first place, and every business should do whatever it takes to ensure they stay happy and continue doing business with them.
- Existing customers are more likely to buy from you than new customers
Aside from simply trying to retain your existing customers for sake of it being less expensive to do so, it’s important to note that selling anything to anyone new is also far less likely. For the most part, the probability of selling to a new customer hovers in the range of 5-20 percent, whereas selling to an existing customer resides in the range of 60-70 percent.
- Great customer service results in reduction of overall problems
By treating your customers like gold, you are sure to reduce the overall problems associated with your business, sales and the potential for any legal issues that might arise. Treat your customers poorly, and you can almost be certain that you’ll run into problems at one point or another. And those problems can oftentimes lead to the ominous and untimely demise of your business.
- You are more likely to retain your customers for longer
When you offer a great customer service experience, your customers are far more likely to stick around and use your business any chance the moment arises. Even when it comes to ancillarly services, consumers more willing to work with a business that they’ve had a great experience with before than to find someone new.
- Excellent customer service improves public persona and strengthens your brand
If you’re interested in public perception, your reputation or the strength of your brand, you absolutely have to insure a high quality of customer service. Not only does this result in positive reviews, but it helps to solidify you in the minds of anyone searching for your type of products, services or information.
- Word of mouth advertising is the best kind of advertising that money cant buy
You absolutely cannot buy word-of-mouth advertising — the kind that can have a monumental affect on a business. It’s priceless. People are considerably more likely to listen to the advice of a friend than they are to heed the guidance from some online review or advertisement. Whether you’re trying to make money online or offline, great customer service will create an army of raving fans that will champion your business for you.
- It improves employee turn over in your business
Employees pay careful attention to how a company treats its customers. That resonates powerfully with people. When they see an employer treating their customers like gold, it delivers a sense of endowment, making them proud to be part of the team and making them more willing to stick around. When employees, on the other hand, are taught to undercut and discount customers for whatever reason, it does quite the opposite.
- Great customer service opens doors for new partnerships and other opportunities
Treating your customers like gold is infectious. It opens the doors for new partnerships, especially when other businesses see just how well you take care of your existing customers. It says a lot about a company and what they value when they care deeply about their customers. It’s something that you rarely find in business these days, but it most certainly paves the way for powerful partnerships, collaborations and other opportunities.
- It elongate the life of any business
Today, only four out of every 100 businesses last through until the 10-year mark. That’s a massive 96 percent failure rate. When you ignore the needs of your customers, and you don’t focus on going out of your way for them, you’re cutting short the potential for longevity in business. With so many obligations and responsibilities, if you’re serious about your business, you have to focus on the core — your customers. Because, without them, you have no business at all.
- It conveys strong beliefs or moral values of a business’s mission
Taking care of your customers conveys a strong set of moral values and beliefs in the company’s mission. It means that it’s transcending the necessity for profits by focusing on building its tribe. It also means that there are greater forces at work here than mere profits. It’s indicative of a deeper desire to build something of value, to help others, and to somehow, in some way or another, change the world a bit by doing so.
How to handle difficult customers
Do not try to talk over the customer or argue with them. Let the customer have their say, even if you know what they are going to say next, and even if they may not have all the information or be mistaken. As you listen, take the opportunity to build rapport with the customer.
Build rapport through empathy
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Echo back the source of their frustration and show that you understand their position and situation. If you can identify with a customer’s issue, it will help calm them down. If you verbally “nod” during the call, the customer will feel better understood.
Lower your voice
If the customer gets louder, start speaking more slowly and in a lower tone. Your calm demeanor will reflect on them and will help them to settle down. As you approach the situation with a calm, clear mind, unaffected by the customer’s tone or volume, anger will generally dissipate.
Assume all your customers are watching
Pretend you are not talking only to the customer but to an audience that is watching the interaction. This shift in perspective can provide an emotional buffer if the customer is being verbally abusive and will allow you to think more clearly when responding. Since an unruly customer can be a negative referral, assuming they’ll repeat the conversation to other potential customers can help ensure you’ve done your best to address their concerns in a calming way.
Know when to give in
If not satisfying the customer is going to take two hours and a bottle of aspirin and risk negative referrals, it is probably better to draw a compromise a bit more in their favor to give you more time to nurture your more productive customer relationships. Keep in mind that the interaction is not typical of most customers, and that you’re dealing with an exception.
Never get angry or upset
If the customer is swearing or being verbally abusive, take a deep breath and continue as if you didn’t hear them. Responding in kind will not solve anything, and it will usually escalate the situation in a negative direction. Instead, remind the customer that you are there to help them and their best immediate chance of resolving the situation – often this simple statement will help defuse the situation.
Never take it personally
Always speak to the issue at hand and do not get personal, even if the customer does. Remember that the customer doesn’t know you and they’re just venting frustration at you as a representative of your company. Gently guide the conversation back to the issue and how you intend to resolve it, and try to ignore personal comments.
Remember that you’re interacting with a human
Everyone has bad days. Maybe they had a fight with their spouse, got a traffic ticket that morning or have had a run of bad luck. We’ve all been there, to some degree. Try to help make their day better by being a pleasant, calming voice – it’ll make you feel good too.
If you promise a callback – call back!
Even if you promised an update that you don’t have yet, call the customer at the scheduled time anyway. The customer will be reassured to know that you were not trying to dodge them and will appreciate the follow-up.
Summarize the next steps
At the end of the call, let the customer know exactly what to expect and then be sure to follow through on your promises. Document the call to ensure you’re well prepared for the next interaction.