Building a solid reputation is important for businesses of any size, and with many people making their decisions based on online reviews, it’s essential to offer a high level of customer service.
Whether you’re a new company looking to make an impression or are planning to improve your existing customer service department, there are many little things you can do to create a better impression when people call. Here are a few ideas that all sorts of businesses can implement, many of which only require small changes.
Keep skills up to date
Many customer service representatives are trained in the first couple of weeks of their employment, and then, bar massive changes in the business, are completely left to their own devices. However, the training and development of staff should be an ongoing thing, and you might want to listen in on some calls to identify which skills are lacking, and what kind of refresher training people might need.
Skills that customer service staff might need include:
- Patience and ability to listen
- Problem solving
- Product and company knowledge
Some of these things come naturally to people, and you no doubt will have picked people at the interview stage who have these skills, but many of them can be taught, or at least improved upon with the right training courses.
There are many different ways to offer customer service, from phone calls to online chat, and everyone has their preferred way of getting in touch. You should offer different ways for people to provide feedback or send through their queries, then ensure they get a quick response back.
You should also remember that your customers have busy lives, and that offering some flexibility in the times you’re open and able to help them can make a big difference. It can be difficult to deal with companies if you have a nine to five job, so opening for a couple of extra hours in the evening can make a big difference to customer satisfaction.
If you need an easy way to extend your opening hours, then using a telephone answering service can really help. They can cover the out of hours calls, then pass on detailed messages to your daytime staff, ensuring that your phones are covered at all times.
Keep employees happy
If you want employees to care about their work and what they’re doing, then you need to keep them happy. Staff who enjoy their jobs and care about what they’re doing will offer a better level of service and will sound engaged and interested while on the phone. There are many things that can help keep staff satisfaction high, including:
- Taking note of suggestions and complaints
- Offering decent salaries and bonuses
- Offering training and development
- Ensuring they have a clear career path
The happier your staff, the better the service they will provide, and by creating a great environment to work in, you can also attract the top talent, giving plenty of benefits to your company.
Get customer feedback
While you may already listen in on calls, perhaps judging their quality by your own criteria, it’s important to think about the customer’s experience and find out their opinion. Ideally, you will want to hear about issues or complaints via surveys and feedback, rather than on review sites or via social media, as this will keep your reputation intact, while still showing you where you can improve.
There are many ways you can get customer service feedback. Some companies ask customers to answer a quick survey at the end of their call, or will send out an automatic e-mail with a link to a survey. This will help you to get accurate feedback across a number of calls, and customers will often be happy to give their opinion on the level of service they’ve received.
Nobody wants an issue to drag on and on, and so a quick response rate, and solving problems quickly, will help keep your customer services to a high standard. Look at similar size companies within your industry and see what they offer. Most customers will expect you to return calls within 24 hours, and to get major issues resolved with a couple of weeks, so set a standard and stick to it.
Another place you can improve your response time is in call centres. The quicker someone can get through, the more likely they are to be satisfied with the service, and long waits can mean more irate customers who are harder to handle. Consider setting a goal such as not having people on hold for longer than a minute, and set up telephone answering services for the overflow. This means people aren’t left on hold, can chat to a human being, and can be satisfied that their issue is being looked at.
Offer a personal service
Too many times, when you pick up the phone and speak to a call centre or customer service department, you simply feel like a number. Try to find ways to make your service feel a bit more personal. Ideally, you don’t customers to have to deal with too many people, so after the initial call, try to get someone to take ownership of the problem, as the customer will soon get to know them and will have more confidence that things are being dealt with.
Customer service should be at the heart of any business, and if you want to improve your company’s reputation, then offering a higher level of service is the best way to do so. With consumers having so much extra choice, they want to know that your company can offer them something more, and good customer service will help to boost your online reviews. Whatever industry you’re in, customers are your most important resource, so it’s important that they’re kept happy, making it more likely you’ll get those word of mouth recommendations that help build a business.