What do Otis Redding, the Jackson 5 and Sister Sledge have to do with customer service? Honestly, not a lot. We can, however, glean a few lessons on how to treat people better from some of their biggest hits. Yet, many businesses choose to ignore the smooth advice of 70’s soul singers and continue to treat their customers poorly.It’s easy to see that companies can exist without good customer service and they do all of the time. This very fact allows many businesses to get away with treating their customers, well, less than. It doesn’t matter how often it happens to you, it can be mind-boggling, and maddening, to come across terrible customer service. Unfortunately, all of these companies with lackluster customer service may not realize that treating their customer’s as an asset would increase their success and their bottom line.
Bad customer service not only creates negative feelings about a business or brand, but it’s the number one way to get rid of your customers. According to the RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report, 89% of people will stop doing business with a company because of a single bad customer service experience. In addition, customers are 2 times likelier to report to friends and family about bad customer service experiences than good ones (2012 Global Customer Service Barometer).
Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel: exceptional customer service isn’t hard to do. It just takes a little bit of planning and strategy to put into action. Ready to get started? Here’s how you can improve your customer service by taking three soul songs to heart.
Try a Little Tenderness
Just like Otis said, “You’ve gotta treat her gently.” A little empathy goes a long way. Someone doing base-level customer service will solve the issue and that’s, well, something. Go a step beyond that and actually listen to your customers and the issues they’re having with your product. Heck, listen to them even if their real issue has to do with their cruddy landlord. Taking the time to express that you hear your customers and understand their issues is like customer service solid gold. Here are some quick tips for trying a little tenderness:
- Use empathetic language to build trust and understanding, such as “I understand where you’re coming from” or “I’ve been there before.”
- Actively listen. Take the time to figure out what your customer needs so that you can properly solve the problem.
- If possible, give customers your direct contact in case further issues arise. This builds rapport and gives the customer peace of mind knowing they can contact you as needed.
I’ll Be There
The Jackson 5 weren’t waxing intellectual about customer service when they sang, “Just call my name and I’ll be there.” Yet, it applies. Make it easy for your customers to get a hold of an actual person who can help them resolve their issues. People don’t want to have to wade through a sea of automated options that end in leaving a voicemail (that likely won’t get heard or returned).
- Provide your customers with a direct number.
- Return voicemails and emails within a business day if possible.
- Don’t forget to check out your social media pages! It’s best to respond to any questions or comments on social media within a few hours of its posting time.
We Are Family
All of your employees want to feel like they are a part of one big family. Another solution to ensuring your customers receive exceptional customer service: make sure your employees are happy. You need to be “…giving love in a family dose.” We have all dealt with disgruntled employees and they are not a business’ best line of defense in excelling at customer service. They aren’t engaged and could care less about the customers they are serving. So how can you show the love to your faithful employees? Here are some ideas:
- Recognize your staff for great service by treating them to a company outing, like bowling, a movie or even a team building event.
- Order food in to the office for staff appreciation.
- Give small bonuses or recognize a job well done – all employees will take note!
Want to know the ingredients for creating an enviable company culture? Check out this article from FastCompany.
Happy customers don’t just happen. A business has to have a strategy in place in order to create an environment that will seed and flourish a bevy of brand ambassadors. Taking actionable steps to create a customer-centric business will not only lead to a delighted customer base that returns time and time again, but will also generate more revenue and company growth, making you a Brick House amongst your competitors.