Friday, 1 June 2012

Customer Service–5 Ways to Improve Customer Traction

It doesn’t matter how beautifully designed your website, how competitive your prices, how excellent your range.  You are only as good as your lowest common denominator – the man or woman at the end of the phone when a customer calls with a query or to make a complaint.

It’s no surprise that the most successful e-commerce businesses also have the best customer service.  That’s not to say that nothing can ever go wrong, but when you deal with companies such as Amazon, John Lewis, Asos or, in particular, Zappos in the US you expect to get speedy, efficient and friendly customer service, however the contact is made.

In the US and from a report by customer service blog Fonolo (read the full report here) 64% of brands got a rating of ‘ok’, ‘poor’, or ‘very poor’ from their customers (Forrester), and 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. (RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report 2011). 

It costs over 6 times more to gain a new customer than it does to maintain an existing one, therefore boosting customer retention rates can bring huge benefits to your bottom line.

This is something that many businesses don’t concentrate on, rejoicing every time a new buyer appears but totally forgetting that existing customers will not hang about unless they receive great customer service, which should, in any case, be the cornerstone of your organisation.

5 Essential Ways to Improve Customer Traction.

1.  Make sure that your staff understand from top to bottom that the customer should always feel important.  Competitive pricing, a great range and speedy delivery will be as nothing if the person on the end of the phone isn’t properly educated in how to talk intelligently, informatively and helpfully to a customer.  Too many businesses get this one wrong and you can lose business in a second.

2.  Be there for your customers – have a person to answer the phone.  An unmanned phone and/or voicemail will not do it.  Make sure your customers know that you are there for them when they want you, not when you make time for them now and then.

3.  Handle complaints quickly and efficiently – this is actually one of the fastest and easiest ways of turning a customer into a friend as it not only shows how much you care, but increases the conversation and ensures that your service won’t be forgotten. 

4.  Go the extra mile.  Do more than your customer expects.  Make yourself remembered by always doing just that little bit extra in whatever context, from handling complaints to the efficiency of your service.  This is what will make a customer remember you and want to return.

5.  Be reliable, always – if you say you’re going to do something do it and get a reputation for doing so.  ‘They never let me down’ is something every business wants to hear said about them.  The opposite is a fast way to losing business.
In this time-short age we expect next day delivery, efficient service, competitive pricing and a wider and wider choice, particularly online and online, unlike offline retail, is still growing.  Take advantage of this fact by making sure that no element of your customer service lets you down and you stand a chance out there.
As Sam Walton, founder of Walmart said ‘The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.’

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