It can be easy to assume your company provides great customer service.
Perhaps your team excelled at serving customers during your first hungry years in business, but you’ve put service on auto pilot to focus on other areas. Or you might believe in your brand so much that you have trouble spotting its weaknesses.
Or maybe you truly are killing it, service-wise.
Either way, Customer Service Week is a good opportunity. It’s an annual reminder to review how you care for customers and how those efforts can distinguish your brand and encourage loyalty. CSW is observed during the first full week of October, but it can serve as an inspiration to improve at any point in the year.
Where It Begins
First, decide how your company will define excellent customer service. Will you work to elevate it into a brand element by going above and beyond others in your industry? If so, how? What might some of the deliverables and outcomes look like? Specifically, how do you want your customers to feel after they encounter members of your team or any other touchpoints?
Ideally, a strong commitment to serving customers beyond their expectations is rooted in your company’s DNA and a palpable element of your culture. That means each team member understands that there’s potential in EVERY customer interaction.
A Modern-Day Challenge
Do many or even all of your staff members work from home? If so, has that affected their everyday awareness of good customer service principles and their ability to execute them?
For those WFH employees, how do you reinforce best practices? How do you maintain high expectations? How do rookie remote employees absorb the passion and knowledge from your veteran customer service superstars? Consider addressing all of those questions as you develop your customer service plan.
Make sure your company has clearly defined, easily accessible policies on customer service topics. Teach them in new employee training and review them with your entire staff regularly.
Your policies might include these concepts:
• Elevating customer service problems, including those related to product failures, warranties, returns, refunds, rebates and delivery delays. When should frontline employees alert their managers about service issues?
• Empowering employees to add value, whether it’s to reward longtime customers or smooth over a buyer’s bad experience. Grant your team members permission to provide one-time discounts, expedited shipping or another type of reward.
• The acceptable amount of time to resolve customer concerns. Is it the same business day? Within 24 hours? One week? Who “owns” that problem and is responsible for seeing it through to its conclusion? What happens internally and for the customer if your company doesn’t meet that expectation?
• The appropriate channels for proactive communication with customers. Is it email? Text? Phone calls? You might also decide, for example, that all customers who spend a higher dollar amount each year are to receive phone calls from a senior member of your team.
• Addressing customers. Do you use their first name or a title / honorific such as Mr. or Ms. with their last name? Your choice should be influenced by the age of your customers and the nature of your business. For instance, a large investment firm might take a more formal approach, while a friendlier, more casual angle would be brand-appropriate for a camping supplies retailer.
Technology, consumer expectations and the marketplace evolve, so review your policies regularly to make sure they’re customer-friendly and comprehensive. It’s even better if they also differentiate your brand.
Customer Service Metrics
How can you determine if your better customer service is paying off?
• Look for positive comments on social channels and review sites, like Yelp and Trustpilot. They can lead to new business.
• You might be able to attribute fewer returns and negative reviews to better pre-sale communication and managing your customers’ expectations.
• Have you noticed that your employees are happier and less stressed since they don’t field as many calls from angry customers?
• Ideally, you’ll make more money with more repeat business.
Developing and delivering on a customer service plan is a chance to wow your customers and create memorable impressions that strengthen your brand. Let us know if you’d like help.