9 Ways to Implement a Customer Service Strategy
Providing excellent customer service is something every business should strive for. But successfully delivering customer service doesn’t happen by accident or as the result of the efforts of a few individuals. It’s the outcome of a conscious strategy that’s implemented by customer-focused businesses to guide your whole customer service team towards success. 90% of customers.
Providing excellent customer service is something every business should strive for. But successfully delivering customer service doesn’t happen by accident or as the result of the efforts of a few individuals. It’s the outcome of a conscious strategy that’s implemented by customer-focused businesses to guide your whole customer service team towards success.
90% of customers use customer service as a factor when deciding whether or not to do business with a company.
That’s why a customer service strategy is essential for businesses who want to achieve customer satisfaction and loyalty. When customer interactions are made consistent and meaningful, customers find it easier to do business with your company and get their problems solved.
Excellent customer service is achievable if you put a strategy in place to help you meet your goals. A customer service strategy means you are investing resources into serving your existing customers and raising the standard of service your business is able to offer.
What is a customer service strategy?
A customer service strategy is a plan that tells you how to conduct customer interactions. It enables you to provide a consistent customer experience across the customer journey. With a customer service strategy, your customer service team knows what is expected of them and your business has concrete goals to aim for.
In your strategy, you define what outstanding service looks like and outline the steps you’ll take to achieve it. It’s much more than just a vague aspiration to do better by your customers, as a customer service strategy is ultimately measurable and improvable.
A customer service strategy begins with an appreciation of the needs and desires of your customers so you can adopt concrete steps to meet them.
Read More: Build an Action Plan for Customer Service
The importance of a solid customer service strategy
Many businesses may wonder what the secret sauce is for retaining loyal customers who grow into brand advocates and spread the message of your business through positive word-of-mouth.
The answer to this question is incredible customer service. The personal interactions that your business conducts in engaging with your customers turn your customers from neutral purchasers into raving fans.
The type of service a customer receives can make the difference between an average customer experience and one that is truly exceptional.
Achieving this kind of customer service is only possible if you make a concerted effort to strive for success. Having a plan around your customer service means you’re making positive interactions much more likely and guaranteeing the consistency of the customer experience.
A customer service strategy results in raising customer satisfaction because you can offer speedier and more effective resolutions. Your service staff aren’t hampered by ill-fitting rules and regulations, and can simply focus all their energies into helping the customer.
When customer service is consistently good, your customers will trust that you have their best interests at heart. This means they can confidently refer you to friends and family, and will always think of your business when they want to buy a product or service that you offer.
How to create a strategy for customer service
Now, we’re going to talk about how to implement an effective customer service strategy.
1. Embed customer-centricity across the business
A customer service strategy isn’t just for your support team. Aiming for customer-centricity across the business is vital for ensuring that customers are always at front of mind no matter what happens.
When non-customer-facing roles like shipping, engineering, finance and product teams are aware of your customer service strategy, this makes it much easier for your support team to deliver effective solutions to your customers. Small problems can be fixed to improve the customer experience before they evolve into massive obstacles.
Everyone in the business should understand how to approach customers and what customer happiness looks like.
Your strategy should always aim to improve customer happiness and every employee has a role to play. Your support team can lead the way in demonstrating how customers should be treated and what customer success should be.
2. Develop a customer service philosophy
Part of your customer service strategy is creating a customer service philosophy. A customer service philosophy means your team is getting clear on what excellent customer service means to your business, and adopts a set of aims to provide guidance on how support teams should go about helping customers.
A customer service philosophy is an example of big-picture thinking that encourages businesses to take a broader perspective in how they view customers.
A customer service philosophy is made up of your vision and values. The customer service vision provides an outline for how agents should approach customers, and the values are the principles you agreed to abide by in this process.
Having a philosophy is useful because it provides your team with a shared statement against which all interactions can be measured. You’re making what your company stands for explicit and agents know the steps they need to take in order to end up with happy customers.
3. Map your customer journey
When customers are interacting with your business during a service experience, they are likely to move through all sorts of touchpoints in order to arrive at a resolution. Mapping your customer journey and associated touchpoints means your business becomes aware of customer needs and you can then take steps to streamline the journey.
There are all sorts of reasons a customer might approach your service team. They may have a billing query, want to return a defective product, or make a suggestion for improvements. The job of your business is to make it as easy as possible to fulfill these interactions in as few steps as required.
An efficient customer journey means automating as many touchpoints as possible so customers can achieve their goal and move on with their day.
Sometimes, the best customer journey is where it’s completely unnecessary to interact with an agent and instead benefit from the efficiency of self-service. Providing these automated support experiences means your business has actively thought about the needs of its customers and made their lives easier.
4. Set SMART goals for your team
A customer service strategy is an evolving process that benefits from having SMART goals in place. Goals are usually created in relation to the need to improve different aspects of your service and make sure customer service is better tomorrow than it was today.
A SMART goal is a particular type of actionable goal-setting that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Here’s a break-down of what setting a smart goal actually means:
- Specific – instead of a vague aspiration like “make customer service better”, you narrow down to make it specific such as “improve customer satisfaction score”.
- Measurable – when your goal is measurable, you have a metric in place that tells you when you have achieved it. For example, “improve customer satisfaction score by 10%” is a measurable goal.
- Achievable – making your goal achievable means your team has a realistic chance of achieving it. For example, “improve customer satisfaction score by 10% at the end of the next quarter” could feasibly be achieved.
- Relevant – if a goal is relevant this means it has a relationship to the areas you want to improve. Customer satisfaction score is a good indicator of your standard of customer service.
- Time-bound – this means deciding on an end point for when you want to have achieved your goal, so you know when you have been successful or not. “Improving customer satisfaction by the end of next quarter” is time-bound.
If your goal is missing any of these elements, then you are unlikely to be successful. The best thing about having goals is when you have achieved them, you can set more so your standard of customer service is always improving.
5. Aim for specific KPIs
Customer service strategies must not only have goals in place but also track specific KPIs that can tell you how your team is performing. Without KPIs in place, customer service teams are unable to gain insight into how effective their service is and potential problems may fester.
A KPI would be something like First Contact Resolution Rate, which tells you how many customer tickets have been resolved on the first try. If you track this metric, you can observe whether it is creeping up over time and then you can investigate a probable cause.
KPIs are good for your customer service strategy because they can be tracked over time, and tell you whether your strategy has been effective.
KPIs help your customer service strategy because it gives your support team targets to aim for. Another good KPI is First Response Time, which tells you how fast your team is at getting back to customers. Customers will expect a low First Response Time, on some channels within seconds, so this KPI will tell you if you are meeting their needs.
6. Hire the right agents for your team
A customer service strategy will only be successful if you have the right customer service representatives to uphold it. You need to build a team that will be capable of meeting these goals and KPIs, and with the right skills and experience required to fulfill customer needs.
It’s no good hiring agents with deep technical knowledge if they lack the empathy needed to communicate successfully with customers.
When you have a customer service strategy in place, it will tell you the type of agents that you need to hire. If your goal is to lower Average Handle Time, which is how long it takes for an agent to resolve a customer issue, you’ll need agents with highly effective problem-solving skills.
Having the right agents in place means they can also offer you feedback on whether your goals are realistic. You may have to increase the capacity of your team in order to meet certain KPIs, and ensure customer happiness remains high.
7. Remove hurdles to great service
When establishing your strategy, it’s important to think about any roadblocks that might be in place when it comes to delivering great service. The question you need to ask yourself is, is it easy for my customer service agents to provide customers with the help they need?
If agents need to seek managerial approval to offer a simple refund, for example, customers may perceive this as difficulty in obtaining a resolution. In many cases, your agents could be empowered to make small decisions themselves without having to seek authorization.
Or if a customer is unhappy, a useful way to win back their business is by offering a discount on their next purchase. If a service rep can offer this incentive straightaway, customers will be much happier and more likely to forgive your business a service lapse.
Customer service reps who are empowered to help customers will be much happier and more likely to stay in their jobs longer.
8. Establish a feedback system
Once you have launched your customer service strategy, it’s not the type of thing that you can forget about and never look at again. It’s vital to continuously collect customer feedback on the way you are serving customers so you can identify areas that need to be improved. Feedback can come from many sources, including surveys, social media polls, customer interviews, and reviews.
Your feedback system should be a two-way process. You must always remember to thank your customers any time they make the effort to provide feedback. Even negative feedback is valuable for your business and can be an opportunity for you to turn an unhappy customer into an advocate.
If, for example, you are continuously gathering feedback that it’s taking too long to reach an agent, you can improve your efforts on improving First Response Rate. This might have been an area you were satisfied with, but your customers are telling you otherwise.
At least when you know how your customers feel, you can focus on making the service better.
9. Adopt the right technology stack
A customer service strategy is dependent on having the right technology stack in place in order to deliver outstanding customer service. If you don’t invest in the appropriate tools, you won’t be able to meet your goals and support your customers to the standard they have come to expect.
Investing in a help desk software for Gmail like Keeping helps you keep on top of a large volume of customer support emails. Your customers will be impressed with the speed and efficiency with which you help them. Agents can collaborate effectively and this means no more support emails will end up getting missed.
If you decide to try Keeping, you can be up and running with in minutes which means you can instantly get back to helping customers.
Having a plan to adopt the best tools can be part of your customer service strategy. It can be a part of the way you intend to achieve your goals and improve key metrics. If your KPIs have improved after implementing your new tool, you know you have gained ROI and made a good investment in your strategy.
Companies who are dedicated to improving their customer service know that they need a solid strategy in place to guide them along their journey. The different elements of a customer service strategy combine to tell your team what customer service actually means within your company, what it looks like to achieve customer happiness, and where your business wants to be in the future.
Intentionally setting out to help your customers and meet their needs is vital for businesses that want to remain competitive.
The ultimate goal of a great customer service strategy is to improve the level of customer service your business can offer across the board. This results in many benefits to the business, from increased customer retention and satisfaction, higher customer loyalty, to vocal customers who will refer your business to others.
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