Customer Service is the lifeblood of any successful company although it never seems to get the publicity it deserves. Happy customers are repeat customers and repeat customers refer new customers. So it stands to reason that focusing on customer service and meeting your customers’ needs, you are actually going to drive new business. All that without the expense of large marketing campaigns with low conversion rates and high overhead costs. Executive’s call this recurring revenue and recognize it is the base for building sustainable revenue streams affectionately called “Cash Cows!” But the point of this blog is not to make you understand why customer service is so important but to offer some tips for effective customer service.
1. Set Clear Expectations During the Sales Cycle – This is one of the most underrated factors in making your customers happy. All too often the sales team sets unrealistic expectations in order to make a sale thereby making it impossible for the customer service team to deliver. To avoid being doomed from the beginning. Sales and customer service should work together to set clear attainable customer expectations increasing the likelihood you meet their expectations and increase the chance the customer is happy with your product.
2. Refund Generously – This tip comes more from experience than the rulebook for business. One of the best ways to calm down an angry customer upset with your product and ready to explode is to refund their money. Not part of it, but a full refund. When offered without resistance, customers become immediately stupefied you’re willing to refund their money without them having to justify why your product stinks and complaining incessantly. Once the shock subsides, they become incredibly grateful. This protects against negative word of mouth and most of the time leads to the customer using your products again. What executives need to understand is the short term loss to the bottom line by refunds is returned tenfold by keeping the customer happy which leads to future business.
3. Track Customer Issues – This one is simple. Learn from your mistakes. If a customer is willing to proactively provide feedback regarding your products and services, you had better be willing to listen and evolve your product to meet the needs of your target market. One of the best sources for new product development can be found by data mining your customer service issues.
4. Proactive vs. Reactive – If you’re doing a product upgrade, re-branding your company or changing your core product line, it’s a great idea to be proactive with your customers. Send them email notices, letters and phone calls to inform them of the changes and collaborate on a transition strategy for them proactively. They will feel like a valued customer and therefore become more understanding as you make the transition yourself if and when issues arise. This also helps establish clear expectations leading to increased customer retention.
5. Be Honest! – The last and probably most important tip for effective customer service is to be honest with your customers. Admit mistakes and provide solutions to their problems. Work with the customers instead of against them. If you are being honest and are committed to resolving their issues, the likelihood of retaining them as customers and building a long term profitable relationships is vastly improved. Plus, not everyone likes to hear the truth, but everyone will definitely respect it!