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8 Essential Rules That Set Good Customer Service Apart

September 6th, 2018

One angry customer can do more damage to your company than all your marketing and PR efforts can salvage. In the age of social media, with each Facebook user having an average of 338 friends, the effects of a scathing customer review can be wide-spread and sometimes irreversible. Customers are at the centre of a business. A customer’s loyalty gives businesses an edge over their competitors and ultimately grows their revenues. For most customers, getting in touch with your customer service representative is the closest they will come to interacting with your brand. Because of this, the principles of customer service your company follows can hugely impact public perception of your brand and also affect your bottom line.

So what is considered good customer service?

Here are the eight most important principles of customer service excellence to follow.

1. Ensure maximum transparency for your customers

Keeping your processes transparent can assure your customers that you are making their concerns a priority and are taking measures to act on them. You can increase visibility at every stage of the customer service process for maximum effectiveness. This could be done by having a dashboard for customers where they can understand exactly who is handling their query and what steps are being taken to resolve it. Visibility can also, in turn, help your organisation by allowing you to track every touch point and analyse the efficacy of your customer service.

2. Respond to queries as quickly as possible

Timeliness is one of the most important aspects of delivering customer satisfaction. If your customers are waiting for a long time to get in touch, then you are sabotaging your customer service before even connecting with them. According to a report by Frost, 41% of customers who were surveyed felt that being put on hold was the biggest irritant. Customer service emails do not perform much better either. A Customer Service Benchmark Report found that the average response time for a customer service email was 12 hours and 10 minutes. Such long wait times can be damaging, especially if a customer’s query is time-sensitive. Responding to customers immediately tells them that they are important to your business and that you value them.

3. Understand the needs of your customer

Whether it is to make a sale or to address a customer’s grievances, understanding a customer’s needs is one of the good customer service principles. What is considered good customer service by individuals will depend on how efficiently you were able to resolve their issues. Only by understanding their needs can you take steps to effectively meet them. Customers can detect when a representative is not making a genuine attempt at understanding their concern. This can cause them to get frustrated and lead to a breakdown in communication. ‘Active listening’ is a technique that businesses should ensure all customer service representatives are trained in. It can help avoid miscommunication, alter a customer’s perception of your brand and improve their experience with it.

4. Personalise your approach

Customers want to be treated as individuals. A personalised approach to your customer service strategy is one of the most important customer service principles. Personalisation can be as simple as starting a conversation with customers by using their name when addressing them. Representatives can also look through a customer’s history with the company to provide more targeted and effective solutions. An insurance company, for example, can offer customers customised insurance plans based on their past purchases and individual needs. A sustainable long-term relationship between a customer and a brand begins by showing them that you understand them on a personal level and that their loyalty is important to your organisation.

5. Be active with damage control

Even a negative customer experience can be an opportunity to encourage brand loyalty when used the right way. Realistically, not every customer is going to have an excellent experience with your brand. A survey by ClickFox found that 1 in 2 people will tell friends and family if they faced issues with your brand. As dire as this situation might seem for a brand, it isn’t always irreversible. Responsive, insightful customer service and owning up to any lapses can address a customer’s needs and salvage a brand’s image. Going on the defensive, on the other hand, can cause even more damage, usually with long-term consequences.

6. Go the extra mile to deliver customer satisfaction

Your goal as an organisation should not be to just match a customer’s expectations, but exceed them. Following a rule book might address a customer’s immediate concerns, but won’t create a long-lasting impression on them. Organisations which anticipate a customer’s needs and are proactive in delivering them will be able to create the strongest impact. This can earn them a customer’s loyalty for life. If an organisation aims to do this, the first step is to empower their employees. Customer service representatives should be trained to think outside the box and should be given the freedom to make decisions that are in a customer’s best interests. Surprising a customer with the unexpected can go a long way in building a strong relationship with them.

7. Put in place efficient processes 

Improving the quality of your customer service also includes being proactive by mitigating situations that can create issues for your customers. Companies need to analyse the entire customer lifecycle to identify areas for improvement. This can help avoid situations that cause a customer to get in touch with a customer service representative in the first place. Companies can also find ways to maximise the efficiency of their customer service processes. If they notice inordinately long wait times when a customer tries to get in touch with a representative, they should take effective measures to reduce it. This could be through retraining current customer service employees or by using an external agency with access to greater resources.

8. Open up channels for feedback

A study by Bain and Company found that while 80% of companies claimed that their customer service was excellent, only 8% of customers felt the same way. The only way to bridge the gap between the perceived and actual quality of your customer service is to be open to feedback. Providing your customers with an easy way to provide feedback is also important because it can prevent them from speaking about their grievances on social media instead. Companies can ask their customers to rate a call, fill out a survey or write an email to the company after they interact with your customer service representatives. Analysing their responses can give your important actionable insights into what is working and what needs improvement. By actually implementing these customer service principles, companies can ensure that their quality of customer service is consistently being improved.

Quality customer service can directly translate into a better brand image and increased sales. Understanding what is considered good customer services can help you track the various touch points customers have with your brand and proactively taking steps to refine them.

To learn more about Sundaram Business Services and how we can support your organisation, visit sundarambizserv.com

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