5 Innovative Ways To Improve Your Customer Service

It’s no secret that first class customer service is the key to running a successful business.  Everyone has their idea of what that looks like or should look like, but here are a few things to consider as you evaluate your business and your brand:

1.  In order excel in the customer service arena you need to understand your customer and their needs.  This sounds like a much easier task than it is.

Before you can speak, you need to listen. This is THE most important part of the process.  It’s hard to provide any degree of understanding if you don’t allow your client the space to communicate with you. Your customer will, either directly or indirectly, tell you what they need and what their pain points are. You might need to ask a few questions to gain a better understanding, but this is also an excellent way of serving your customer.  Be patient, and exercise some empathy.

Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.
— Bernard Baruch
 

2.  Your clients desire and deserve your attention. They will ultimately pay you for that attention. Capitalize on how and where you give them that attention.  Enhance your social media accounts to be relevant and valuable to the client.  Ensure that they have access to Google Reviews and other testimonials, where past clients have praised you and/or your brand.  Make sure you follow up with past clients via email, a greeting card, or a phone call.  Not only will those folks enjoy that extra attention, they will become your spokespeople.  When you go out of your way to think of people, they will go out of their way to think of you.

 

3.  Sometimes, communicating can be complicated and difficult. We are human. We make mistakes.  We also have issues communicating effectively.  This isn’t unique to any one industry. Effective communication can be quite the stumbling block.

Here are a few best practices for communicating well:

  • Identify common ground with your clients.  Finding a way to relate is a valuable tool. This can be done through the written story of your brand, email, marketing material, or even verbally.  The conversation will go much smoother and building a relationship for the future will be easier.
     
  • Be knowledgeable about your product or service. You shouldn’t be fumbling for factual information.
     
  • Be consistent with the brand message. All of your employees and/or colleagues should be pushing the ship in the same direction.
     
  • Slow down! When I get excited, I tend to let my mouth move faster than my brain. With a little practice, slowing down will allow you a few extra seconds to complete your thought, thereby making you sound more professional and more confident.
     
  • Be personable.  No one enjoys working with or dealing with someone who has the personality of a wet mop.  A little charisma, and a can do attitude is worth its weight in gold.
     
  • Once again, don’t forget to follow up with your clients. They will appreciate the effort and the concern.
Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.
— Steve Jobs
 

4. Be available.  Too often businesses lose clients due to a long response time, not responding at all, or being unavailable.  Responding to emails and phone calls within 24 hours of contact is a good practice.  The time it takes to send a quick email, to let a client know that you are unavailable at the moment, is negligible. Let them know that they are important to you.

Sure, you won’t always have a free hand to answer the telephone. Perhaps you are with another client.  This is a great time to verify that your voicemail message is set up, and is done in a warm, inviting tone. 

Quick responses will go a long way to ensuring that a client feels valued and important. I have secured many clients simply by responding as soon as I had received their contact.

If you are avoiding a customer complaint, you are compounding the issue.  First, you aren’t responding to the client contact.  Being unresponsive is never a good thing.  Second, you aren’t admitting to a mistake. Taking ownership of any mistakes is honorable and will also help to diffuse the situation. Of course, making things right is great customer service as well.  Third, your actions, or lack of action, will have an effect on your reviews, and ultimately the referrals you get.  Essentially, if you want to stay in business, you need to make sure that you never find yourself in the situation of avoiding a customer complaint. Things can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye.  Own the issue, go out of your way to provide exceptional service in making the customer whole, and help them see a positive outcome.  How these clients speak about you and your brand will directly affect your bottom line.

 

5.  Under promise, over deliver.  In today’s business environment, we tend to offer guarantees, and make promises to make our customers feel better about doing business with us.  They enjoy that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes along with a promise. 

What if you broke your promise?  Your word is your bond.  Violating that word is a big deal, and could negatively impact your brand, as well as future business.

The opposite is also true.  If you make a promise and deliver more than what was expected, sooner than expected, or go above and beyond for your client, you will have provided exceptional customer service, and this will positively affect your brand and future business.

The name of the game is to make your clients feel special. When you go above and beyond to ensure that their customer experience is absolutely first rate, the benefits of doing business with you increase exponentially.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.
— Mahatma Gandhi