We're a month into the new year, which is the perfect time for some quick tips for providing excellent customer service. No matter what business or industry you're in - from freelancer to enterprise - there's always room to improve customer service strategies. Here are our tips for ensuring great service as the year progresses:
Keep Your Word
If you tell a client or prospect that you will send an email within 24 hours, send the email within 24 hours. If you promise to call back after 5, call back after 5. It's not a difficult concept, but it can be hard to pull off. Fortunately, you don't have to remember every little obligation in your head anymore - there are a number of mobile and desktop apps that can help you keep track of everything you have to do. Apple's own "Reminders" and "Calendar" apps are a great start, and they easily integrate with other services like Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook. If you're a cross-platform user, you might want to check out a cloud-based app like Evernote to help you keep track. If your business is using CRM software, add the reminder there, too. No matter what solution you use, tracking your to dos and promises for customers will help you provide them better service and keep your word.
Don't Be a Robot
No two people are alike and no two customer service situations are the same, either. In order to provide successful service to clients, it's important to have some flexibility. Every business has protocols and templates that must be followed, but turning into a robot won't help anyone. Take the time to actually listen and don't assume anything about a customer you're talking to. Ask more questions until you fully understand the situation. You might be surprised what you hear.
While you're busy not being a robot, take a minute to get to know your customer. First and foremost, learn their name. I remember when I worked as a bank teller, we had a rule: When interacting with a customer, use their name at least twice. It makes customers feel important (which they are) and helps you remember who they are and the details of their story. When referring to a particular case, humanize it by referring to the customer by name as frequently as possible. Remember: every customer is a person.
Take Your Time to Get it Right
If you rush to solve a customer's problem, it might not get solved correctly. Frequently, a rush to solve an issue can lead to misinformation. The best way to combat this is explain to clients that you want to make sure their problem is solved the right way the first time. In the end, getting it right in one try will save you more time than giving two or three incorrect solutions.
Gone are the days when the only way a customer could reach your support team was via the telephone. Today, consumers have a wide range of options for support, from online chat, to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Because most people will go online to find out about your business, it's important to provide that information were customers can find it. This means your customer support should be accessible whether people need help in person, online, or on the phone. But remember, efficiency is key. If a customer has a complicated problem, multiple emails back and forth probably won't do the job. Instead, give the customer a quick call and the problem will be resolved quickly and accurately.
Whenever you are interacting with customers, take the time to be personal, empathetic, and friendly. With this in mind, you'll easily serve your customers throughout 2013.