No business is an island. Each company exists only because of its customer base. Without paying customers, even the best products, services, and ideas will go nowhere. How you choose to handle customer issues is of utmost importance.
There are many ways that companies can convince consumers to spend money on their brand. Marketing campaigns and product design are important for that reason. However, many companies fail to focus sufficiently on one of the most important aspects of business: customer service.
How you treat your customers, especially when they have problems and concerns, says a lot about your organization. A positive customer service experience can convert a one-time buyer into a lifelong loyalist. In contrast, a poor customer service experience can permanently drive people away. Here are some processes you can establish to deal with your customers’ issues properly:
1. Provide Thorough Customer Service Training
Your frontline employees will be the people who handle most customer issues. The more training they receive, the better they can handle such issues. By budgeting for and conducting comprehensive customer service training, you set your workers up for success when dealing with difficult situations.
Fortunately, you don’t have to create your own customer service training program. That can be a lot of work to put together and execute, especially while running the other aspects of your business. Look for outside help to get your employees the training they need. There are plenty of qualified third-party training services you can reach out to.
That said, customer service training shouldn’t be a one-and-done event. Continuously remind your team of the importance of customer service. If additional training is needed, take the initiative to provide it in a timely fashion.
2. Solicit Customer Feedback
Try as you might to run a perfect operation, things will inevitably go south from time to time. When a customer has a bad experience — whether it’s an overlong wait or an uneven bang trim — strive to learn from the situation. This will help prevent repeat errors from occurring in the future.
A great way to gain insight into customer issues is to conduct surveys. Make your survey request after the initial problem has been resolved, and preferably via email. The last thing a frustrated customer wants to do is answer survey questions over the phone while trying to get a problem fixed.
Tailor survey questions to get at the root cause of each problem and ways future instances can be avoided. Ask customers what they would have liked to see done differently and try to implement their suggestions. Making positive changes is how you can better deal with similar issues in the future or avoid them entirely.
3. Offer Online Resources
Not all customer issues will occur within the 9-to-5 window. This doesn’t make them any less frustrating for your patrons. While you might not have someone available to help them at that specific moment, you can set up online resources that can provide helpful guidance.
Take chatbots as an example. These little AI-powered assistants sit within your website ready to answer simple questions website visitors might have. While they can only offer preset suggestions and responses, the assistance they provide is better than leaving impatient customers hanging.
Other resources such as an FAQs page or how-to videos can also be quite helpful. These pages are always accessible and may supply the assistance customers need before they place an annoyed phone call.
4. Maintain the Human Connection
Many companies are using automation to speed up a lot of their processes. While efficiency is always desirable, be careful not to lose the important human connection with your customers. Appointment-based businesses that develop relationships with their regulars should be especially mindful of this.
For example, an automated phone system can guide callers through booking an appointment or checking on wait times. This frees up employees from the phone lines so they can take care of in-house issues. However, not all customers can — or want to — navigate an automated system. If you’d like to implement an automated call menu, be sure to give callers the option of speaking with an in-house employee.
All your other automated systems should keep the human connection in mind. There should at least be access to a company representative for times when automation falls short. No automated system is perfect, and even if one was, many customers still prefer human interaction.
5. Stick to Your Policies
Unfortunately, you can’t just give in to every demand when a customer faces a minor inconvenience. Each customer service incident sets a precedent for future interactions. Having policies in place can provide helpful boundaries and protections for both customers and employees when resolving issues.
Take the common 30-day return policy, for example. A customer is entitled to return an item within a month of purchasing it. Exceptions are not made on day 31. This policy protects the employee from having to make difficult judgment calls and clearly tells customers what expectations regarding returns are.
Appointment-based businesses should establish their own firm policies as well. Your business may allow service animals at appointments, for example, but draw the line at regular pets. Some customers may take issue with that, but they should be required to respect the policy you have in place. In this way, you show respect for all those who visit your business.
Keeping customers content is an uphill battle companies fight every day. While it may seem like an endless challenge, the way you approach this will directly reflect on the success of your business. Take proper care of your customers, and they will take care of you in return.
Featured Image: Stefan Lorentz; Pexels.com. Thank you!