Statistically, somewhere around 90% of your customers have chosen to do business with your company based, at least in part, on the quality of its customer service. But be careful not to rest on your laurels—50% say they’d take their business to a competitor after just one bad customer service experience. Would you like repeat business? An estimated 93% of customers are more likely to give repeat business to companies that provide exceptional customer service vs. those that don’t.
5 Practical Tips for Improving Customer Service
The statistics are clear—great customer service is critical to companies that want to survive and thrive. These 5 practical and easy-to-implement tips for improving customer service can help.
1. Understand your customers’ needs.
Many companies provide reactive customer service—set yourself apart by proactively looking into the customer journey and what your customers actually need. Start by looking into the most common inquiries, and then look into ways to proactively address them. 40% of customers say they choose self-service tools as their first option when looking for quick answers to simple questions. Consider whether developing online resources like troubleshooting tips, video tutorials, and FAQs could help answer a lot of the questions currently driving new customer inquiries. Providing self-service tools is one of the easiest ways to improve customer service in the long term while trimming support costs. If you offer omnichannel support (and you should), regular audits can help ensure that you’re maintaining the right staffing levels to provide adequate service through each channel.
2. Ask your customers what they think—or seek them out “in the wild.”
The best way to find out what your customers think of your service is to ask them—or keep tabs on what they’re saying on social media or online review sites. A short survey with an incentive like a discount on their next purchase or the chance to win a prize is an excellent low-cost/high-yield way to collect information right from the source. However, asking for input without acting on it might give the impression that the company doesn’t care about its customers’ experiences after all. Only ask if you’re willing to act on what you’re told. On the other hand, quietly observing and acting on online reviews is an excellent way to give the impression that you’ve read your customers’ minds.
3. Practice active and reflective listening.
Behind every word on the other end of the phone or screen, is a person with a question or concern that was important enough for them to contact customer service. They want to feel heard, understood, and that they’re communicating with someone who will help them. To make active and reflective listening part of your operations, train reps to focus on each customer without interrupting them while making sure to let the customer know that they’re listening and ready to help. The best way to demonstrate active listening is by using “verbal nods” (i.e., “uh-huh” [or similar]). Once the customer has finished speaking, the rep should ask clarifying questions, and then demonstrate that they’ve been paying attention by summarizing what the customer has told them. This is an opportunity to show reflective listening by repeating important details verbatim while mirroring the customer’s tone (assuming the customer hasn’t been aggressive).
4. Show empathy.
Showing empathy goes hand in hand with active listening. This is the art of seeing the issue through the customer’s eyes and letting that impression intuitively inform how the rep responds. It’s also a powerful tool for diffusing conflicts and building rapport with challenging customers. Demonstrating a little understanding and compassion by using attentive language goes a long way toward building trust and making customers feel that they’re a priority.
5. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
A first-contact resolution should be the gold standard, but some inquiries can’t be solved during one phone call or chat session. When additional legwork and follow-up are necessary, follow these four steps:
- Set a timeframe. (e.g., “This will be resolved by close of business tomorrow.”)
- Define next steps. (e.g., “I’ll call you tomorrow with an update.”)
- Reassure the customer that their issue will be resolved. (e.g., “ You’ll hear from me tomorrow with an update. We will get this resolved.”)
- Stick to the plan. It’s crucial not to drop the ball and to ensure that the rep lives up to what they’ve promised.
More Ways to Improve Customer Service
Small changes can add up to great strides when looking for ways to improve customer service!
Check out this article for more ways to improve customer service—and find out what you might be doing wrong. This article shares five ways to improve customer service with gamification, and here you can find four ways to celebrate success while improving customer service. Finally, learn five employee performance management tactics for improving customer service.
Plecto Can Help Improve Customer Service
To help companies track KPIs and deliver unrivaled levels of service, Plecto integrates with the most popular telephony and support systems. It even enables companies to monitor real-time call center performance across locations!
Sign up for a free 14-day trial and let Plecto help get you started on the path to providing world-class customer service.