Top 5 areas of customer service

Whether you’re a solo business owner or a franchisee, delivering consistently high levels of customer service is key to running a successful business. Knowing how to deliver the best customer support, as well as how to check that you are doing so effectively and strategically are vital areas to concentrate on…

1) Communication

Communication. Communication. Communication. Perhaps a little obvious but it is hugely important to ensuring that you – and by extension your entire team – are great at this if you want to deliver the best in customer service. Some of the key qualities of communication you’ll want to train your team in are:
  • Positivity – keeping the client in a good mood
  • Empathy – understanding the client’s position
  • Providing a solution – and conveying the benefit of that solution to the client
This should be the first and most impactful area of your customer service to improve. The value of delivering clear communication is delivered through continuous training for all staff and constant monitoring to ensure standards are in fact being met. If you’re looking into buying a franchise, it’s worth checking to see what brand communication standards individual franchise opportunities and networks maintain. It’s a good way to tell which of them are serious about the customer service they deliver.

2) Channels

The most popular customer service channels today include:
  • Live telephone answering services – often preferred to other channels for clarity and security reasons. The most important things to get right when delivering customer support by phone are a positive tone of voice, speed, repetition and note-taking to avoid confusion and provide a clear outcome.
  • Email – email is less personal and doesn’t require a customer to talk on the phone. This is something which more and more people are starting to prefer – especially if it means avoiding waiting on hold. Consider implementing some sensible automation practices to increase the speed of your email responses. But be wary of coming across as too dismissive by doing so.
  • Live chat services – live chat keeps things simple, conversational and responsive. Like emails, allows you to attach files of useful information rather than repetitively writing the same details. It’s the most popular customer service channel with most consumers for these very reasons.
One of the most important decisions to make as part of your customer service delivery is deciding what channels to offer and provide support to for your clients. For example, live chat might be the cheapest and easiest channel to deliver. But it might not be the channel which a customer will feel the most listened-to when it comes to serious issues.

3) Retention

Retaining your customers is much better for your bottom line than spending more money to acquire new ones. Excellent customer service plays a key role in retaining as many clients as possible. A clear complaints procedure is vital to accomplish this. This is especially true in the digital age. Today, reviews and comments which report negatively on your services can quickly damage an online reputation. Your complaints process should always include clear guidelines for:
  1. How far your support team can go in expressing their goodwill.
  2. What your support team can do for and offer unhappy customers.
  3. Your online review management process.

4) Proactivity

Proactive customer service includes things like comprehensive FAQ pages and troubleshooting videos. This content actively tries to support your clients without the need for them to ask for it. Being proactive also includes things like inviting people to engage with you directly if certain conditions are met – a customer keep clicking away from purchasing their full cart, for example. Most business and franchise owners have found that their clients prefer the proactive approach – as long as they don’t go too far with it.

5) Assessment

In order to know just how effective your business’ customer service is, you need to measure and assess the quality you deliver. It’s important to narrow down what key performance indicators will give you an accurate and actionable snapshot or your team’s performance. You can then present this data in ways which enable you to analyse how happy your customers are. Plus, questionnaires and customer surveys are always going to be worthwhile. Going a step further, you could consider investing in a third party or mystery shopper for a personal look at what your customers are experiencing. When it comes to improving customer service, this information is golden.
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