If you want your business to survive, you need to take care of your customers. A reputation for poor customer service gets around — and you don’t want to be the subject of those types of rumors.
As you consider how to best take care of your customers, here are 5 keys for successful customer service:
1. Know What You Offer
Your first step is to understand your product or service. You should know what you’re selling. If your business is service-based, be aware of your limits. Know what you can and cannot do, so you can offer accuracy when providing quotes or fixing problems.
If you are selling a product, you should understand that product, knowing how it works and what questions are likely to come up. Whether you make the product yourself or keep it as inventory, you should know what you’re selling.
Train members of your team so that they understand your products and services and can answer customer questions competently.
Good customer service is professional and polite. Make sure you handle situations in a manner that reflects well on you and your business. Remain calm when speaking to customers, even if you know that the customer is in the wrong.
When handling customer service via email or on social media, don’t respond immediately. Take a few minutes to review what you want to send. This allows you time to adjust your tone and words so that you remain friendly and professional.
Maintaining your professionalism can go a long way whether you respond privately or publicly to customer service requests.
Good customer service is responsive. Whether you are providing grace periods for payment or whether you are helping someone out via Twitter, it’s important to be responsive. Ask your customers for feedback, and then respond to the information you receive.
It’s also good practice to respond quickly to customer service requests. Pay attention to where your customers are located. Do they send emails asking for help? Do they reach out on Facebook or Twitter? When are they likely to call a toll-free number to speak with someone? Pay attention to these realities so that you can respond quickly and appropriately.
For the most part, as long as you respond within one day to email and social media requests, you are likely to be in good shape with your customers. If you can respond quicker, that’s a bonus. However, don’t get so caught up in responding quickly that you end up being unprofessional.
When answering phone-based customer service requests, make sure you are responsive to your customers’ preferences. This might mean making sure there are live operators available during peak times for your customers to call, and being sure that your response team is very well trained.
In many cases, customers just want someone to listen to them. Let your customers speak for as long as they need to in order to explain the situation.
If you are a good listener, you will not only help your customer feel better about the situation, but you will also better understand him or her — which can help you more effectively fix any problem or come to a resolution that satisfies you and your customer.
5. Protect Your Customers
Take appropriate steps to ensure that your customers are protected. Your staff should be trained to verify customer identities before moving forward so that you can do your part to protect your customers from fraud. From keeping credit card numbers safe to recording phone calls so that you can review your team’s performance and ensure that your customers well-treated, you want to respect your customers’ needs.
- Install the right protections, programs and software to protect privacy and to reduce the chances of your website being hacked.
- When you focus on what’s best for your customers, they will likely thank you — and be willing to return to you for products or services.