Customer Service Can Make or Break Your Brand

RL12-1-15Sales are at the heart of business, and the key to a successful sales approach is great customer service. From the point of sale through the life of your product or service and beyond, how your company interacts with customers at every encounter becomes a key differentiator when building your brand. Remember, customer service isn’t just a department in your company or an 800 number on the back of a product; it’s a mentality.

What is good customer service?
Simply put, good customer service is treating the consumer with the respect they deserve, fixing issues on a timely basis, and going above and beyond to ensure customers have the best experience possible with your company, your employees, and the product or service you offer. Key characteristics of good customer service include enthusiasm, empathy, ownership, adaptability, and authenticity. In other words, know your customer, do what you say, deliver what you promise, and be true to who you are.

Customers want a better experience.
If one thing is true, it’s this: there is no shortage of businesses. Your customers likely have many options to choose from. And with our constantly connected society’s increasing ability to shop around, they hold all the cards. Customers today aren’t just looking to buy, they want a better experience. According to a study by Accenture, 66% of customers switched companies due to poor service. Even if they had been loyal before, they will go to a competitor if they don’t get the customer service experience they want.

Negativity trumps the positives.
Unfortunately in business, negative experiences do more to damage a brand than positive experiences do to promote it. And in today’s instant-information culture, customers are vocal about their feelings. A study by Harvard Business Review found that 48% of people who had negative experiences told 10 or more people about it, while only 23% of customers who had a positive experience told 10 or more people about it. Bad customer service reviews are like an infection that can quickly spread to your customers.

Customers reward good experiences.
The good news is that customers are more likely to stay with a brand they have a good experience with. They reward great customer service with loyalty. American Express did a study on the consumer and found 58% are willing to spend more on companies that provide excellent customer service. Making the interaction between your company and the consumer as enjoyable as possible at every step of the way is the easiest way to turn occasional buyers into outspoken brand advocates.

How can you create a customer service mentality?
Is some ways, employees who are great at customer service have an inherent customer-focused personality. However, there are some steps you can take to help your staff to be better at providing top-notch customer service and to ensure your clients have the best experience possible. Try these quick tips for providing great customer service:

  • Be Proactive
    Train your staff not to wait until they’re forced to act. If they see potential customer service issues start to rise, it’s important to have an efficient process in place to address them. Whether it’s empowering employees to make decisions and act independently or having a procedure for quickly elevating customer complaints to decision makers, focusing on being aware of potential problems before they get out of hand can make all the difference.
  • Empathize
    For your customers, dealing with a service issue is only made more frustrating when the associate they’re working with doesn’t show empathy. Regardless of the issue, it’s important to try to understand where your customers are coming from—feel their frustration in order to address it. Think about your own experiences with customer service. How would you expect a service representative to respond to your particular needs? With indifference or genuine concern?
  • Take Responsibility
    Though the old idiom “the customer is always right” in reality may not always be 100% true, it’s still an effective guideline for providing great customer service. Playing the blame game won’t create customer loyalty. Even if a situation is out of your control, you can always take responsibility for providing a more positive experience for a customer going forward. Remember, a heart-felt apology goes a long way in calming a disgruntled customer and clearing the air to start taking steps to reach a solution.
  • Seek Feedback
    A great way to conclude any encounter with a customer is to ask them for feedback. Find out how to better serve them in the future. And most importantly, ask if all their needs have been met. Treat every customer interaction as an opportunity to learn.

How have you built a culture of excellent customer service at your company? What do you do to ensure your customers have the best experience possible? Let us know in the comments section below!

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