Lessions in good customer service
At planb we take customer service very seriously, we visit our customers every friday and have strong, trustworthy relationships with every one of our customers. Think to yourself what are customers’ most frustrated with when contacting customer service?
A report by Accenture reported that 79% of customers find “having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason” to be extremely frustrating.
And what happens when a customer finally reaches a customer service rep?
The rep say’s the two magic words “I’m Sorry”. And then all is well with the world, right?
From the time that we were children, most of us were taught that if we made a mistake, saying “I’m sorry” was good start and this would cause bygones to be bygones. The Nottingham School of Economics found that unhappy customers are more willing to forgive a company that offers an apology as oppose to being compensated.
The researchers theorized that when a customer hears the words “I’m sorry”, it triggers an immediate instinct to forgive. If I get bad service or a bad product or a bad experience, the company says “I’m sorry, how can I make this better?” and we’re all back to being happy again. But, sometimes, saying these words doesn’t cause things to be better.
When sorry isn’t good enough
During my time working for, and with, other local service providers mistakes have been made. The sad reality is that the mistake are often hidden or brushed over. I recall one such incident where as a customer had ben paying for a backup for over 11 months and due to a break down in communication between engineers the backup was never installed (however that had been paying monthly). As it happens the customer suffered a data loss due to failed hardware and there was no backup to be seen. No admission was made of responsibility to the customer as a long technical explaination given as to why the backup was unusable and the rest of the excuses to mitigate responsibility. What made it even worse was upper management failed to engage the customer or take ownership of the issue to resolve the matter. The customer was even charged for the resolution to a failed service.
Even in this situation a simple sorry would not have cut the mustard as this caused a massive issue for the customer in question, so where do you go from here.
Four ways to get beyond “I’m sorry”
Not all companies can afford the kind of bad customer service that was received and still stay in business. In fact, 89% of consumers will stop doing business with a business due to bad customer service.
Alas, most of us regular Joe’s rely on happy customers and getting these customers to keep coming back time and time again.
If you care about happy customers at all and doing more than just saying “I’m sorry”, here are some things to pay attention to:
1. Do what you say
Good customer service is more than being friendly and seemingly “helpful” on the phone. You need to be able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think, “how would I feel if this happened to me?”
If you think that you would like it when others keep their promises to you, chances are, the customer does too. Call the customer back if you’ve said that you would. Show up for an appointment at the agreed upon time if you’ve said that you will. Deliver what you promise to your customers and you will build their trust in you. Fail to deliver on what you promise and watch your relationship erode to nothing.
2. Adapt a “can-do” attitude
A person doesn’t contact the customer service department because it’s fun. He does it because he has an issue that he needs help with. It really doesn’t matter whose fault it is. He just wants to get the problem fixed as soon as possible. So when a customer contacts you with an issue, try to resolve it as fast as you can. If you can’t resolve it immediately, try to at least take steps to bring the problem closer to resolution. In my experience communication is key, a simple call to make them aware that you are still working on a resolution goes a long way.
Consider this story about how B. Dalton book seller went the extra mile for a customer.
“She gave me the contact name at Birders and told me to just go up to the counter and my book would be waiting”
The B. Dalton team went an extra mile for their customer. A lady went to buy a book that her son requested for Christmas. Staff member at B. Dalton went through the store and stock inventory to find it. Unfortunately, they found none.
In favor of the customer’s satisfaction, they called Borders (their competition), reserved the book requested and gave her directions where to pick it up. “The staff member gave me the contact name at Borders and told me to just go up to the counter, and my book would be waiting…”
This outstanding gesture cost the B. Dalton team a lost sale of the book. However, they gained a determined, loyal shopper just by showing a little respect to the customer and her wishes
3. Keep your customers “in-the-know”
There’s nothing worse than sending in a customer service request and wondering if the company ever received your request in the first place.
I always wonder, “Did they receive it? Are they going to answer it? Are they ignoring me? Are they working on it?” The more I have to wait, the angrier I get.
It’s important to send a confirmation to the customer that you’ve received his request, include a case number and a contact person. Send updates to the customer to report on its progress so that the customer is kept up-to-date. We all like to know that we’ve been heard.
4. Pay attention to customer feedback
The Internet and social media has made the buyer a force to be reckoned with. With 92% of customers reporting that a word-of-mouth recommendation is the top reason they buy a product or service, don’t sweep social media feedback under the rug.
Believe it or not, customer feedback is a good thing, no matter how negative so don’t hide form it.
Only 74% of large businesses ask for feedback and even fewer (65%) small businesses ask for it.
Gather the feedback, group it together and create actions to improve. In addition, by answering comments and questions and giving guidance through these channels, businesses can also go a long way in improving the customer experience.
It’s called Customer Relationship Management
In today’s competitive environment, it would seem like a no-brainer that companies focus on great customer service – especially when good customer service has become the norm. Great customer service is taking care of the customer from the time the person meets you on the internet, to the first sales call, to the signing of the deal, to the experience of the after-sale. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, 63% of existing customers lose interest or stop doing business with a company because they feel like they are being neglected by a company. How many of us that can afford that kind of behavior?
When you take care of your customers, your business will thrive. If you don’t, wave bye-bye as they go off to a competitor.
Today’s highly informed customers are no longer ‘boxed in’ to choosing a business because it’s their only option. Thanks to the web and social media, it’s easier than ever to find unlimited alternatives. And when your competition is a click away, how do you measure up?