BY ANDI GRAY
Ours is a service industry where customers don’t have to work hard to find alternatives. Clients use online reviews as a deciding factor when looking to book the services they need‚ so make every customer feel special—at pre-sale‚ the time of sale‚ and post-sale.
Dilemma: Our company just doesn’t have a good rating when it comes to online customer service reviews. Is there anything we should be doing—or anything we can do?”
Make the buying experience as easy as possible‚ since frustrated buyers will leave before completing their purchases. That’s a lost opportunity—and lost trust‚ too. Those who have something to complain about most often won’t do so directly to you‚ leaving your company in the dark and you unaware that there’s even a problem.
Convert every complaint into an opportunity to connect. People do business with the people they trust. It’s the little things that count‚ like asking how a customer would like to be addressed. Have reps give out their names and contact info before being asked.
Thoughts of the Day: Excellent customer service has real value. Put someone who knows what they’re doing in charge and then make sure they do their homework. Keep your eye on competitors and treat the good ones as coopetitors. If you have messed up‚ be genuine and resolve the issue‚ but also know when you should quit trying to please everyone.”
Keep a log of complaints and resolutions‚ and use those real-world scenarios to train new employees. Teach them to keep their cool when under attack. Escalation and anger won’t solve problems so patience‚ understanding‚ and a cool head must prevail.
Sending a customer away with incomplete information leaves your company vulnerable. People turn to the Internet for information‚ which makes it easy to look at other options. Ask a simple question on every interaction: “Did that answer meet your needs‚ or do you need something more?”
Be aware that even the most loyal of customers can leave. The effort needed to acquire new customers is estimated at 10-20 times that what’s required to maintain existing ones. Reduce the risk of loss.
One way to get customers to rave about your company is to look at services that customers complain about‚ and do an honest assessment. If a competitor can do it better‚ maybe it’s a good opportunity to refer a customer to them. But make sure to look for competitors who will return the favor.
Not all customers are equal. Some like to complain—a lot. Steer clear of customers who’ve already dissed your best competitors. Complaints are inevitable‚ but how you deal with them is what really matters. Put someone experienced in charge of finding out what really happened and then offer solutions. Show you’re doing everything possible to make things better. The customer is always right‚ or needs to feel like they are. No one ever wins by having public fights with a client.
Do your research by Googling your company. Don’t get defensive. Grow from each experience. If your company was wrong‚ go above and beyond to correct the error. If customers are talking to you‚ they’re indicating a willingness to continue doing business. Win them back by being generous. Once things are fixed‚ encourage customer engagement about their experience on social media. Signal to the marketplace that your company stands behind what it sells.
Use feedback from customers to help design better products or services. What did the customer really want? Relay that information to your product or service design team. Review it regularly for ideas on products or services to keep‚ modify‚ and dump.
Do more than manage complaints. As a small business‚ customer service is one way you can stand out. In-depth knowledge of the company‚ its products‚ and services‚ and even the personnel assigned to each customer will make your company seem more human and relatable.
Set realistic expectations with customers in order to build trust. If you don’t have an answer‚ tell the truth. Estimate the time needed to do research. If you still don’t have an answer within the specified time‚ explain that you’re still working on it and offer a new timeframe. And then follow through. Make it a mission to help every customer. A bad situation handled well results in customer satisfaction and‚ in seven out of 10 times‚ will ensure future business. Make relationships count by working to confirm that every customer goes away satisfied. [CD0615]
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Sticks and Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time and Lost in a Click
by Larry Weber.