Are You Breaking These 6 Rules For Awesome Customer Service?
At one time, the two major aspects of making a buying decision were price and quality. In other words, if the product or service did the right job for the right price, the customer was happy.
However, in recent years customer service has become the 3rd part of the buying decision and to many people it’s the most important.
So, this is particularly relevant if you’re a product seller.
The thing is, just because your business is online and you never see your customers face to face, doesn’t mean you can shirk your customer service responsibilities.
People will still notice if they are being treated properly or not, and they’ll never come back to your site if they feel you’ve failed.
And that’s important because returning customers are cost effective and considerably boost your bottom line.
So, even though your business is online, you cannot ignore customer service or take it lightly anymore.
People expect it, value it and demand it, in fact they’ll even pay more to get the right service. We all want to be treated with respect, it’s simple human nature and more people than ever are voting with their feet when faced with inferior service.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, dissatisfied customers are now shouting about their grievances online.
And there are so many websites they can vent on, you need to be careful because you may not see half the negative stuff posted about you.
“If all your business is done online and you are never face to face with your customers, you still need to keep working on your customer service. Think of it as ANY contact that your visitors or customers have with you, including email, Skype, Facebook and everything in-between.”
Ok, so now you know how important this is to your online business, let me introduce you to . . .
The 6 unbreakable rules for awesome customer service:
1: Remember the ‘Lifetime Value of a Customer’
I’ll use an offline business example for this, as it’s so easy to understand. Let’s say you’re a hairdresser and one of your clients isn’t happy with her new hairdo you’ve just spent 2 hours crafting.
There’s an argument and because you don’t agree with her opinion, she refuses to pay and storms out.
No problem right? You’ve just lost £40 (or whatever you charge) and that’s the end of it. Wrong.
What you’ve actually lost is the lifetime value of the customer.
For instance, if she spends £40 with you every 2 months, that’s £240 a year. And if she would have continued that schedule for, let’s say, the next 3 years, you’ve actually lost £720!
You can add to that the cost of procuring another client/customer too, as marketing is not usually free.
But it gets worse because now you have someone sharing their bad experience with everyone who’ll listen. (That’s what we do when we’re annoyed with a business.) And that’s not good for your business.
So was it worth it?
No it wasn’t. It’s not worth arguing with a customer and losing them, just make them happy again and they’ll keep spending with you.
The only exception to this is if they are a habitual complainer, to the point they are costing you more than they are making you. If that’s the case then it’s cost effective to let them go.
But be diplomatic and don’t aggravate them as they can still complain online.
The lifetime value of your customer is the main thing to keep in mind regarding ALL your customer service activities. Your on-going income is why you need to ensure your keep customers coming back.
Even if your business is a one-sale deal, which is rare, you still do not want angry customers venting online, so remember the power of Facebook and other popular platforms. Your business can be negatively affected, really quickly.
2: Never argue with your customers
As you can see from the first rule, you’ll never win by arguing with your customers.
Yes, it feels great to win an argument, but this isn’t a normal argument. Remember, it rarely ends with just the loss of one sale.
If you sell online, chances are you will be dealing with customers by email, onsite messenger or by phone. It doesn’t matter which and it doesn’t matter that you are not face to face. The principles are the same.
Deal with complaints politely and always offer a way to make sure the customer or potential customer is happy.
Solve their problem if you can, even if it takes a little effort. You can build goodwill by also offering a discount coupon or free gift, to show them they matter to you.
If you get more than one complaint regarding the same thing, you need to look into it and solve it at the source. Maybe your customers have found a flaw that you didn’t know about, or they seem unhappy with part of the buying process.
Whatever it is, just sort it out, make sure your customer is happy and ensure the same complaint doesn’t come up again.
3: Apologize when you’re wrong
Following on logically from the last rule, if you are wrong, apologise to the customer immediately.
More importantly, follow that up with ACTION. Of course an apology is great and it’s expected, but what’s more important is solving the customer’s problem.
Most customers, no matter how angry they are, can be turned into a happy customer if you solve their problem quickly and without argument.
Problems happen, it really is that simple and your customer knows that. The key is a satisfactory outcome for your customer. We’ve all experienced this.
Think about the times when YOU were a customer and something went wrong. I’m sure that swift, polite action from the business to solve your problem, made you feel much more like shopping with them again, rather than an argumentative tyrant who has gone over to the dark side and become a professional hypocrite.
Let go. Think of your business. Think how you would feel if it was you. Solve it.
4: Don’t make customers wait
Do you like being made to wait for a response from a business?
Exactly. So don’t make your customers wait. Thanks to the super-fast speed of everything online, we get impatient far easier and want things now, including a response from the companies we deal with.
Make a habit of regularly checking your support emails and answer them within a pre-set period of time, such as 12 hours, 24 hours etc, depending on your business.
You can use a Support Ticket system or outsource it if your business is large enough to warrant it.
Add a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to your site, as it’s a great way to offer instant help on the most popular questions or concerns. Also make sure your contact details are easy to find by adding a Contact Us page, where you can also link to your FAQ page to save your visitors time.
If you do have to make someone wait due to unforeseen circumstances, always apologise for their wait. Then ensure you are the model of wonderfulness, by making sure they are left happy and smiling.
5: Respond to negative feedback
Think back just a few decades, prior to the internet being in virtually every home and tell me where your customers could have complained in public back then?
There wasn’t really anything other than a stern letter and word of mouth, so they’d tell anyone who’d listen. Since then, times have changed.
Now, there are plenty of places online where your disgruntled customer can voice their complaint. Not just in your own geographical area, I’m talking nationally and even globally.
So it doesn’t matter if you sell worldwide or in a particular local area, unhappy customers can now come back and bite you, by using review sites and social media.
So many people now take to Facebook for instance, to complain about their bad retail experiences and those posts can go viral very quickly.
If you find someone’s complaint regarding your business online, take the time to respond to it directly. Stay factual, calm, polite and always offer a solution right there in your reply.
Don’t take chances. Be professional. Set yourself up from the start to respond to customer or potential customer feedback quickly, friendly and efficiently.
6: The power of “Thank You”
“Thank you.” Two simple words but they have so much power.
You need to always keep in mind that your customers ARE your business. Without people spending their hard earned cash with you, you simply don’t have a business.
Thanking your customers for their business, feedback, comment, suggestion, or even their complaint can build trust and loyalty. People just want to be appreciated and it’s in your favour to show them they are.
Many businesses will offer discount vouchers for instance, as a thank you for interaction with their customers. This is a good idea for two reasons.
Firstly, a free discount shows you value them and, secondly, they will be buying more from you when they use their discount.
Win-win, I think they call it.
Bringing it all together . . .
Good customer service not only helps to keep your customers when they may have been ready for leaving you, it helps to build up the reputation of your brand too.
Not just for your individual products or services, but for everything that falls within your brand. For example if you received good customer service on XXX product from the guys at ABC company, they are more likely to respond to positive marketing for a new product delivered by the ABC brand later down the line.
Plus customers buy into brand loyalty, and are more accepting of issues if the brand reputation is good, which again contributes to brand retention.
Effective customer service is not difficult to achieve. Neither is a bad name online, so it’s your choice.
Remember, it’s not just about the loss of future income from an unhappy customer, it’s the damage they can do if you don’t make them happy with your brand again.
A little effort and a calm, understanding attitude can make all the difference in keeping your customers happy and your business well-loved and thriving.