When you buy a product or use a service from a company, you automatically expect the best. This is because every company has some kind of obligation to provide you with an excellent experience if they want to have repeat customers. It makes sense. Would you rather buy a product from a company that shrugs you off like another statistic, or would you prefer to return to a store that made you feel welcome, gave you excellent customer care after your purchase, and even threw in some coupons for your next purchase?
Something as simple as writing a “thank you” message by hand on your receipt is usually enough to make a customer return to your store. Something as effortless a smiling at the customer can be enough to give them a good lasting impression of your business. It doesn’t take much work to change your company ethos to focus on great customer support, and in this article, we’ll be going through a couple of different ways as well as giving examples of companies that prioritise customer service over anything.
Examples of Fantastic Customer Support
First, let’s begin with the computer hardware company EVGA. EVGA specialise in computer components that are targeted towards enthusiasts and gamers, meaning that their audience demands the highest quality components and have a love for tinkering with their hardware. It’s not unlikely for someone to try and squeeze extra performance from their components by replacing individual parts, but this usually leads to complications or even faults that were completely the user’s fault. However, EVGA being the specialist hardware company they are, understand that this is something that can happen due to their audience. So instead of saying “it’s your fault you broke it, we can’t help”, EVGA will happily replace your components that are broken even if it wasn’t your fault. There have also been situations where EVGA will take back your broken or dead components and give you back updated models and newer components as compensation.
EVGA is an example of a company that understands their audience. They know that computer enthusiasts love tinkering with their hardware and that can ultimately lead to hardware failures. However, instead of leaving the customer with an expensive paperweight, they will happily give you replacements. Does this cost EVGA a lot of money? Most likely, but investing in your customers is a valid strategy and winning over their support is more important than saving a bit of extra profit. When you get customer service right, the word spreads and you’ll get far more customers than you were getting before.
Another company that focuses on their customers is Amazon. CEO Jeff Bezos is actually known to leave a seat open at conference tables because it symbolises their most important investor, the customer. He also takes his staff and managerial team on call centre training courses on a frequent basis because he believes that everyone that works under his brand should have excellent people skills and be able to communicate in a polite and professional manner. Amazon also develops products not based on the research team’s findings, but market trends and customer desires. To Jeff Bezos, customer support is one of his company’s strengths and he constantly strives to keep Amazon at the top as a customer-centric company.
Now that you have a couple of role models, let’s dive into how you can achieve the same thing.
Strengthening Customer Service Skills
One of the best ways to improve your customer support is to focus on keeping a constant stream of contact between you and your customers. This doesn’t mean you have to actively message them every few days, it just means that you should keep communications open for as long as possible. For instance, make sure you’re using a phone system that allows your customers to contact your company with ease. Don’t outsource your call centre to another country or even another company. Keep it in-house so that your employees understand how your business works, they know how to respond to customers, and so they have easy access to your other staff members who can help with various issues.
Your call centre staff need to have a couple of important qualities. They need to be patient because many customers will call that don’t fully understand their issues or what help they need. This might cause your operatives to be in a conversation for a long time trying to discern what the issue is. Some customers might also be a little frustrated and could raise their voice over the phone. This is rather uncommon, but your operatives need to understand that it’s something that can happen and they shouldn’t get annoyed at the customer for doing it. They also need to be consistent in their customer support if they want to get good reviews for it. They can’t be easily swayed by their own personal issues or work problems, and they need to treat every customer like the last one.
Establish Multiple Forms of Contact
Don’t limit yourself to just a single point of contact. Don’t rely on just using the phone, don’t rely on email only, and don’t forget about live online chat programs. It’s important that you focus your efforts on creating a diverse platform that your customers can use to contact you. It might sound like a lot of work and it might cost some additional funds to set up multiple forms of contact, but it’s not as bad as it sounds and every customer is different in how they want to contact you.
Perhaps someone has a bad experience with waiting on the phone and they prefer to use social media or online web chats to contact you. Perhaps someone has a hearing disability so they prefer to use email or text support, and maybe someone doesn’t have an internet connection so they need to phone in. With so many possible cases, it’s only natural to support as many methods of communication as possible.
Understand Your Audience
As a business, you should know who your audience are. You should know the types of customers you get, you should know their likes and dislikes, and you should know what kind of age group you target. It’s important that you use this information to your advantage so that you can constantly tweak your customer service to support their needs. In the example given above with EVGA, they understand that computer building enthusiasts love to tinker with their components, hence why they allow refunds and replacements for accidents caused by the customer themselves.
This piece of advice generally depends on what type of business you operate and it can change depending on your demographic. If you have a very wide audience such as Amazon, then you need to establish some basic points such as refunds policy that suits the customer, and buyer protection so that when they purchase something by accident, something that’s dead on arrival or something that doesn’t suit their needs, you’ll have policies in place to replace that item or refund it. However, if you have a very niche audience, then you need to establish rules that fit the type of service or item you are selling.
Accept Feedback and Listen to It
The only way to know how well you’re doing is to take feedback. Be it feedback on your products, reviews of your company as a whole, or even comments about your customer service, you need to take everything into consideration and listen to your customers because, at the end of the day, they are the most important people in your business. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t respond in a negative way even if a customer is furious about a mistake you made or a misunderstanding. Remember that to provide excellent customer support, you need to be patient, understanding and consistent with how you speak to others.
However, that’s not to say that people won’t leave malicious comments. Sometimes it’s important that you try to discern what is a troll comment and what is a legitimate complaint. Because of this, it’s also important that you have thick skin to avoid the emotional stress that can come from a disgruntled customer. They might threaten to sue you, they might post negative reviews on their favourite review websites, and they might kick up a storm on your customer service lines. However, once again, it’s important to remain calm and patient with these types of customers. There isn’t much you can do about malicious negative reviews unless you make a claim that it’s damaging your business. Luckily, people that enjoy using your services will rush to your defence and shut down those claims, and your rating will average out because one negative review shouldn’t affect you that much.
Customer support is incredibly important and everyone understands it. However, there’s a difference between genuinely caring about the customer and providing just enough support so that you’re not called out for being a neglectful business. Whatever type of business you operate and whatever products you sell, ensure that you’re taking the right measures to treat your customers with the respect they deserve.