10 Customer Service Initiatives You Can Use in Your Business
Your customer service should be a continually improving process so you’re always in step with what your customers want, and will stand out from the competition. Here are 10 ideas to proactively engage with your own customers.
Customers aren’t just buying products and services: they’re paying for experiences with your brand. Customer service is an integral part of offering the best overall customer experience and profoundly shapes how customers view your company.
In order to deliver exceptional customer service consistently and reliably, you must be creative about the ways in which you approach your customers. There has to be some kind of plan in place that will tell you how customers want to be treated and help you refine your approach so that customers are raving about your business.
Investing in your customer service makes good business sense. 68% of customers say they will pay more for products and services from brands that offer good customer service. Customer expectations are high and your business must strive to meet them.
Enter customer service initiatives.
What are customer service initiatives?
Customer service initiatives are the plans you put in place to raise the standard of service across your organization. It’s a program that is designed to effect positive change in your customer service department and raise customer satisfaction levels.
Customer service initiatives take your service from bland and generic to unique and memorable experiences for your customers. It involves your company taking steps to find out what your customers really want and offering it to them.
No customer service initiative is complete without a thorough understanding of the customer.
You must step into your customers’ shoes to find out about their likes and dislikes. Make it a habit to never stop learning about your customers and finding out what makes them tick. Customers require an ongoing investment from your company in order to prevent them being lured away by your competitors.
10 customers service initiative ideas
1. Survey your customers
You can’t possibly begin to improve your customer service without trying to find out what customers really think of your business. Genuinely asking for their feedback is the first step to implementing successful customer service initiatives because it tells you what customers are looking for.
77% of customers will view your brand more favorably if you proactively invite customer feedback.
Some potential survey question ideas are:
- What attracted you to [business] in the first place?
- What are you looking for in a [type of business]?
- What would keep you coming back to [business]?
- If you could change one thing about [business], what would it be?
There are other more standard surveys you can use to collect feedback from your customers.
- Net Promoter Score – used to measure customer loyalty and find out how likely customers are to promote your brand to others.
- Customer Satisfaction Score – used to measure how satisfied customers are after a particular experience with your brand.
- Customer Effort Score – used to measure how difficult or easy it was for a customer to complete a particular interaction with your brand.
Read More: 3 Essential Customer Service Metrics
Whatever format you choose to gather feedback from your customers, make sure you thank them for their contribution and let them know if you implement any changes as a result. It’s all about closing the feedback loop and making sure customers feel heard.
2. Make a good first impression
The first point of contact a customer has with your business creates that crucial first impression of your brand, and you need to make sure it’s a positive one.
Whether that’s leaving a comment on social media, searching for your contact details on your website, or reading a shipping email, you must ensure every touchpoint is on brand and pleasant for your customer.
Customers are unconsciously influenced by all sorts of factors, and even small things like poor grammar or the wrong font color can have customers turning away in droves. Each of them subtly impacts how a customer perceives your brand. Pay attention to the details and you can be sure that your customers will notice.
3. Revamp the hiring process
You can’t deliver exceptional customer service without highly-skilled and well-trained customer service professionals working hard behind the scenes. One of your initiatives should be to take a good hard look at how you hire your service reps and define the qualities you look for in a top candidate.
Some of the top skills to look for are:
- Empathy – being able to accurately perceive how another person is feeling.
- Active listening – being able to show the customer that they’re taking on board what the customer is saying and that they understand.
- Resilience – being able to overcome challenges and bounce back relatively quickly without internalizing negativity.
- Technical proficiency – being able to troubleshoot problems with the products.
30% of customers say that speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent is the most important aspect of customer service.
Your customer service reps are the public-facing department of your company and who your customers are going to be interacting with the majority of the time. They have to be able to communicate your company’s culture to customers and act in alignment with your company’s values. They are representative of your company and should be selected with care.
It’s important to choose agents who have the potential to stay with your company for the long term. Offer them career development opportunities and scope for advancement. High agent turnover could seriously undermine your ability to offer high quality customer service.
4. Make it easy to contact support
Are you hiding your contact details deep in your website where your customers have to hunt to find the information they need? 77% of customers consider the difficulty of reaching an agent to be the biggest issue with customer service today.
If your customer service department is hard to reach then this could be resulting in frustrated and upset customers. You aren’t doing yourself any favors if you require customers to jump through hoops just to contact a human.
Make your phone number and email address readily available in a prominent place on your website so customers know how to get in touch. Consider investing in live chat so customers have a direct line to your service reps.
5. Reach out to your customers offline
Even if you are a digital-only business, consider using more traditional methods to stay in touch with your customers. A hand-written thank you note on behalf of your service team can be a great way to reward customers for their business. Customers will appreciate it if you go out of your way to show how much you care.
Don’t be tempted to cut corners and print your thank you notes. They have to be handwritten to achieve the right effect. It’s a small thing that can really make your customer’s day and sometimes results in shares on social media, enhancing your business’s profile. This is valuable word-of-mouth advertising for your brand that can’t be bought.
A holiday or birthday card sent to your customers can be a great way to remind customers that you’re thinking about them. Make sure you personalize it so customers view it as a thoughtful gesture rather than a generic promotion.
6. Address how you handle complaints
There will always be times in your business when something goes wrong for a customer, and they raise a complaint with your service team. Though these kinds of situations can be uncomfortable, make sure everyone on your team is trained on how to effectively handle complaints.
In fact, complaints can be an opportunity for your business to go above and beyond. You get a chance to turn customer service lemons into lemonade by addressing the customer’s issue and making it right. Happily, 78% of customers will do business with a company again following on from a mistake, if their customer service is usually excellent.
When a customer has had a problem and you’ve resolved it, this can often result in them being more loyal than if they never had the complaint in the first place. This is known as the service recovery paradox, with satisfaction levels raised higher after post-failure than they were pre-failure.
7. Thank your customers at every opportunity
It’s an important customer service initiative to make sure that reps are showing appreciation to customers as often as possible. 91% of customers said they are more likely to do business with a brand that appreciates their customers.
As well as sending customers hand-written thank you cards, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity there is to thank your customers for doing business with you. Thank your customers after they purchase a product. Thank your customers for contacting customer support. Thank your customers for giving you a chance to help them.
If you don’t thank your customers, they might perceive your service reps as rude and indifferent. It costs nothing and takes almost no time at all but it’s the right thing to do. Saying thank you is just good manners and customers will be delighted with your polite and friendly team.
8. Invest in your self-service resources
Sometimes the best customer support is when customers never have to reach out to you at all. It’s an important customer service initiative to invest in your self-service resources so that customers have the chance to help themselves.
A self-service knowledge base or FAQs is a good way to support your customers. 91% of customers said they would use a knowledge base if it met their needs. You can post answers to commonly asked questions that customers can consult when they run into issues.
Answering FAQs can drastically reduce the number of requests that your agents receive, freeing them up to focus on the more complex cases. Agent morale will be raised when they don’t have to deal with as many repetitive, mundane queries.
You can link to your knowledge base in your autoreply for your customer service email address, so customers are directed towards helpful resources while they wait for a response.
9. Review your policies and procedures
One customer service initiative that it’s important to get right is reviewing the policies and procedures you have in place for dealing with customers. Are they customer-centric, or do they present hurdles to reps when they are trying to help customers with their problems?
Wherever you can, try to streamline your processes so that it makes it as easy as possible for service reps supporting customers. For example, when customers are asking for a refund, enable your reps to grant the refund as long as it’s up to a certain amount. This will make helping customers faster and increase customer satisfaction.
That’s important when you note that 60% of customers think the most frustrating parts of a service experience are long holds and wait times.
If your policies are increasing the time it takes to resolve customer issues, it’s time to rethink them. Empowering service reps to make their own decisions when it comes to helping customers will result in higher employee morale and reduced agent turnover.
10. Adopt the best software
One of your customer service initiatives should be improving the software that your agents use to deliver their support. It may be the case that you are currently sharing an email account to answer customer queries, and some emails are getting lost in the cracks.
It might be time to scale your customer support with a dedicated help desk tool like Keeping, which sits right on top of Gmail and allows you to turn your customer emails into tickets that your agents can work together on.
Keeping was built with collaboration in mind. More than 70% of customers said companies should collaborate on their behalf, so they don’t have to repeat information to different agents. When you use the software, it allows every team member to receive, respond to and assign support emails directly from within their own mailbox. Every support email is funneled into a separate section of your mailbox and so you can keep them segregated from your regular emails.
Consider adopting live chat to give customers a direct line to your customer service agents. Software like Intercom or LiveChat allow you to embed a chat widget on your website that customers can use to get in touch.
Using these customer service initiatives will drastically improve the level of customer service that your business is able to offer, and it’s guaranteed that your customers will notice. Your customer service should be a continually improving process so you’re always in step with what your customers want, and will stand out from the competition.
You want your business to be known for providing stellar customer service that keeps your customers happy and has them raving about it to their friends. Initiatives give you a targeted and intentional approach to raising the standard of customer service across the board. Don’t leave customer service up to chance – act now to ensure customers are having the best possible experience with your brand.
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