There are many sides to running a successful business, with customer service being one of the most important elements. However, it can also be one of the most difficult parts of running a business.
Customer service means there is a direct one-on-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company selling the product or service. This is also referred to as customer support. The quality of customer service is key to facilitating customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Talk about good customer service and you are referring to any form of help rendered by a business to its customers. It is also the overarching term for how the business interacts with these customers or potential customers before, during, and after a sale. It's often during these moments that the customer will determine whether to buy from the business again.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense that good or excellent customer service will make happy customers. On the other hand, bad customer service can have a negative effect on a business. Ultimately, buyers' perceptions of businesses and products are partly shaped by the quality of their customer service experiences.
This article will discuss the elements of good customer service and how to achieve them in your business.
The Importance of Customer Service
Customers are generally what keep nearly all businesses alive. Businesses thrive on cash flow, and one source of cash is revenue from sales. Consequently, without new or returning customers, businesses will often have little to no income and can quickly become unsustainable. Therefore, the goal of your customer service team should be to meet customers' needs: Keep them satisfied, happy, and loyal.
Good customer service plays an essential role in the life span of the relationship between a business and its customers. Furthermore, good customer service facilitates customer satisfaction and retention. It also creates a favorable brand image and increases referrals and word-of-mouth advertising.
Satisfied customers will likely make return purchases. They also will become the "evangelist" of your business, giving you unsolicited advertisements and referrals. In contrast, a dissatisfied customer will likely never tell anyone anything good about your business. In fact, at any given time, they may discourage friends and families from patronizing you. Hence, every business must incorporate good customer service into their values.
Qualities of Good Customer Service
There are many components that ultimately make up good customer service. However, the key components can generally be broken down into the following:
At the heart of customer service is communication. Hence, the quality of a business's relationship to customers depends largely on the ability of the customer service representatives to manage and convey information effectively and efficiently.
Some practices that makes for effective communication include:
- Listening without interrupting the customer
- Speaking clearly and concisely
- Being sympathetic yet positive
- Explaining complex terms in the simplest way possible
Effective communication is, by all means, a very important quality of good customer service. More often than not, it can leave customers feeling satisfied with your business.
Convenience is the ability of a business to save customers time and effort throughout the entire buying experience. More than ever, customers are seeking simple and easy ways to access information or make purchases.
Convenience may mean different things to different businesses. It may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- How easy it is to find your company on or offline or navigate your website
- The ease of placing orders and paying for goods or services
- The speed of delivery
- The efficiency and effectiveness of customer service representatives in handling customer complaints or issues
To create convenience, you should find ways to eliminate "friction" anywhere in the process when a potential customer interacts with or buys from your brand.
Competency is another key component of good customer service. Have you ever spoken with a customer care representative who couldn't assist with your challenges? Nothing compounds the frustrations of a customer more than a customer service representative who doesn't have answers to their queries.
Customer service representatives must be trained on how to handle customer complaints. Also, they must have enough knowledge about the company and products they represent. All of these will equip them adequately to solve customer complaints and improve customer experience.
Personalization refers to delivering customized services that are tailored to the needs and wants of each customer. Customer service experience should have a personal feel because customers differ. This approach is the opposite of a one-size-fits-all response or interaction.
Every business must seek ways to deliver personalized services to different customer segments. This can also be extended to communication materials. For example, email newsletters can include the first names of respective customers.
Customer service can either be reactive or proactive. Proactive customer service means expecting when customers could use help and actively offering to help. A step further on proactivity is to follow up on customers to find out where they may need help.
Other forms of proactive customer service involve promoting self-service. This can be achieved by providing a FAQ section, instructional videos, or creating discussion forums.
How to Achieve Great Customer Service in Your Business
Good customer service can improve brand perception, encourage loyalty, attract new customers and increase sales. Consequently, as a business owner, you should constantly seek to improve its customer service. Good customer service is not a one-time achievement; it's an ongoing process. It's something your business should always be working on.
Here are a few ways to enhance your customer service:
- Organize training programs. Good communication and problem-solving skills are essential customer service skills every customer service rep should possess. The good news is that both can be learned and improved. Therefore, your business should host periodic training programs to effectively teach employees how to answer customer questions and what is acceptable during customer interactions. Such training can be used to keep customer service teams up to date with customer relationship management (CRM) trends.
- Reward excellent customer service. Management should create a work environment where employees are held accountable for good customer service. Performances of customer service representatives can be tracked by collecting reviews from customers about their experience with individual customer service reps. Exceptional customer service should be encouraged. Individuals or teams could be rewarded for going the extra mile.
- Survey your customers. Send out periodic surveys to collect customer feedback about their experience and how you can serve them better. Also, you should monitor what's said about your business on social media and resolve those issues as quickly as possible. Customers frequently share their opinions of businesses online and through social media, which means even one wrong move or perceived slight — especially one caught on camera — can spread quickly and damage your business's reputation.
Run Your Business Finances Smarter With Skynova
Good customer service is just one element of running a successful business. While good customer service can improve your business's sales revenue, maintaining a positive cash flow largely depends on your financial management approach. Whether and how you track your income and expenses will help you make informed financial decisions.
Skynova's accounting software can help you stay organized — allowing you to track and manage your income and expenses in one place. Additionally, we offer 33 software modules online (no download necessary), all of which are specifically designed for small businesses.
See how Skynova can make your bookkeeping easier while you focus on providing the best customer service possible.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a professional customer relationship expert to ensure you're meeting CRM standards.