Shrewd business owners realize how invaluable customers are to the life of their enterprise, for without them, who else is going to bite into their offer? This is why they take customer service seriously by investing in resources such as manpower and technology. After all, being in business is not merely about closing deals and making sales—it’s also about making sure the customers are satisfied after they make a purchase.
But the reality is, providing customer assistance is not always a fun ride. You’ve probably heard your share of stories where customer service representatives (CSR) are bombarded with demands and complaints from frustrated patrons. While these accounts can be quite accurate, you would know as an entrepreneur that a well-delivered aftersales service can be fulfilling. If, for anything, it plays a vital role in making everything that you and your staff do worthwhile.
A good customer service reputation can earn you a healthy number of loyal customers. If that is what you want to achieve, carry out these five long-term strategies to retain clients.
1. Start with a competitive team
Your staff is one of your most important assets in your customer service mission, so it only makes sense that you hire people who are competent and are willing to personify the essence of being customer-oriented. Also, don’t worry about the recruitment process taking a while if it means you getting the best people possible. Use the candidates’ behavior as a gauge if they are a fit for the post. You can also ask questions that are related to rendering customer aid during the interview.
Whether you have the capacity of hiring a separate customer support team or you’re limited by a small staff, ensure that everybody undergoes extensive thorough training on providing assistance to customers. Arm them with the basic skills on both customer service and the technology that you’re using. It should also go without saying that your staff needs to know everything about your products or services, (e.g. assembly, operation, etc.), so that they would know how to respond to a client seeking help.
2. Design an efficient customer service system
One of the worst things that can happen to a CSR while attending to a customer is to not know whom to forward a concern when he can’t be of assistance any longer. Not only can this worsen the exasperation of the customer, it is also detrimental to the business.
This is just one scenario but the point is this: to minimize the room for error during customer assistance sessions, you should devise a strategic scheme so that you and your staff will know whether a concern should be escalated to a higher officer or if they should handle it themselves. So apart from establishing standard procedures, it should follow that all of you know it by heart. You should also streamline any work flows that need restructuring, as well as to design a contingency plan in case the SOP won’t hold out. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
3. Be experts
When set up a business, it’s not only the products or services you are selling. A sale should always be backed up by post-sales service. One of way of looking at it is that your product service is automatically considered merchandise. It is logical that you and your team are trained to be experts of your brand.
As such, you need to ensure that you and your employees should be able to foresee problems that customers can encounter in the future. By anticipating potential setbacks, you’ll be able to design different kinds of responses and solutions even if you’re not receiving any complaints yet. If you’re dealing with customers from different countries, it would also help if you have agents who can speak foreign languages, so that you can accommodate a wider range of clients.
4. Take advantage of technology
If your business relies heavily on gadgets and equipment, consider investing in cutting-edge technology to ensure smooth operations. You can also provide multiple channels where customers can reach you such as phone, e-mail, text messaging, chat feature on your website, and social media. If your budget allows it, you can have an app created which your customers can download on their smartphones so that they can contact you at their convenience.
5. Familiarize yourself with customer experiences
It’s been said that experience is the best teacher and this can be applied to doling out customer service. While you don’t necessarily have to subject yourself and your employees to every imaginable problematic scenario, you need to develop the right attitude when faced (literally or figuratively) with customers. Show them sympathy and serve them the way you’d like to be treated if you were the one in their shoes.
The part where you’re supposed to deal with different kinds of customers is just half the battle; the other half is your commitment to delivering a full-blown service. Thus, it’s important that you and your team develop not just skills but values as well.