Information is flowing to businesses all the time. Customers are constantly telling businesses what they think about them either directly or indirectly. Conversations on social media, comments, reviews, and communication via helplines all enable brands to gather customer feedback.
However, that’s only the first step to customer service improvements and, ultimately, growth. Businesses have to take what they learn one step further to actually improve the customer service experience. Here’s how companies can keep customers happy.
Gather Feedback as Early as Possible
You can start gathering feedback about your brand, product or service in the early stages before you’ve officially released anything to the public. Ask a small group of current customers, potential customers, industry experts, or influencers to test the product and provide you with honest feedback. You may not like what you hear, and it may require major changes before moving forward, but it’s better to find out now instead of later.
Practice Close Listening
Close listening means that you listen to what the customer is saying, understand it, and then clarify that you understand what they’ve said. Agents should ask questions to get to the root of customer queries and issues.
When customers are angry, they are generally upset for a reason, and that reason may not be obvious in the heat of the moment. Close listening goes beyond that to understand the core problem and take action, whether than be to change things like company policies or product design.
Your response shows that you truly hear and care about what customers say. Close listening is particularly important if a customer has been injured or hurt by a product. Even one instance involving an injury should raise an alarm about potential issues to prevent as soon as possible.
Direct the Narrative Through Your Responses
Businesses can’t control what customers say about them, but they don’t have to be at the whim of those comments and reviews, either. When a customer leaves a negative review, it’s important to respond to them as soon as possible and in a public way. That way, other customers can see that your company faces issues head-on.
Customers don’t want to feel like they’re alone, and they want to know that their problems will be given attention. They don’t expect perfection from businesses, but they do expect to be treated well as customers.
Provide the Same Level of Support Online and Offline
Businesses that only pay attention to customers when they make public complaints can get a reputation for poor customer service. Customers want to feel like they’re important no matter where they are — whether that be in a store, talking with a support agent on the phone, or posting a review on social media. Businesses should communicate in the same way no matter who is (or is not) going to see it. Companies have to be consistent in their customer service in order to be trustworthy.
Give Certain Customers a Point Person
Customers who are having a complex issue may have to call customer service several times. If they have to wait through a menu and explain their situation to a new agent every single time, they’ll quickly get upset with the company. At that point, you risk having an unhappy customer or losing them completely.
These customers should have a point person who they can easily contact through a direct line. Even better is if that point person contacts the customer — so long as they do so when they say they will. For customer issues that have been escalated, it’s best if the point person is a manager or supervisor instead of a regular agent.
Provide Technical and Product Support
Customers can’t be satisfied or pleased with products they’re unable to use. One role of customer success managers and the customer support department overall is to provide technical and product support so that the customer can actually reap the benefits of what they’ve purchased.
That means that support agents have to be experts in the products or services you sell — if they can’t teach your customers how to use them, who can? Take the time to provide agents with the training necessary for them to answer customer questions accurately and thoroughly.
Build a Knowledge Base
The more you work with and listen to customers, the more you’ll realize that many of them have the same issues. Maybe they have trouble navigating part of your website, or they seem to run into trouble with a particular product.
If you find that you’re answering the same questions and solving the same problems over and over, build a knowledge base that customers can use on their own. You’ll empower customers to solve issues through self-service. This is more convenient for them, and you’ll alleviate the pressure put on your customer service department. Your agents can then be free to handle more in-depth issues or to work directly with VIP clients.
A customer service department is only as strong as its agents. Without happy agents who are willing to provide stellar support, your customers won’t be treated the way they should. Clarify your expectations and empower agents to go above and beyond for the sake of the customer experience. Your customers will thank you through positive reviews and brand loyalty.