In a world where most of us are glued to our smartphones, negative customer experience can be quickly shared online, so it’s important that you consider and design your customer service experience so your customers know you care.
What is Customer Service Experience and Why is it Important?
The customer service experience is the sum of all the interactions a customer has with a company, both in direct communication and through other customer experiences (for example, your checkout process on your website).
Customer experience is incredibly important as it affects the customer’s loyalty to your brand, and how they talk about you to other people both on and offline.
FURTHER READING: Mastery Customer Experience: Strategy, Metrics, Research.
Retaining customers is the only real way to grow your business and if you don’t put effort into retaining them they’ll likely just feel used
What’s the Difference Between Good and Great Customer Service?
The difference between good and great customer service is often just taking a few extra steps to make your customer feel valued.
And if they are experiencing a problem and are speaking directly with your team then they should feel heard and like the person on the other end of the communication wants to get the situation resolved (and not just so the customer will go away).
If you want to offer great customer service you need to have a strategy and systems in place for your team to follow so every customer gets the same level of care.
Every step of the customer experience with you, from discovery to after-purchase care, should be done with thought.
Providing the best customer service experience possible doesn’t have to mean your customers need to speak to a human during the experience – think about Amazon.
They are the powerhouse they are today because they provide an amazing customer experience – a shopping search engine where they can buy anything they need at a low price and check it all out at the touch of a button.
Often for e-commerce businesses, a lot of providing a great customer experience is simply making a purchase as easy as possible.
A Great Customer Service Experience (An Example)
Here’s an example of a small business giving the best customer experience:
I bought my car used from a dealership, and after seeing the advert online I called to check it was still available – it was, so the next day I went to have a look at it.
The moment I arrived I looked at the car and then went inside to talk to the salesman, who in this case, was the owner.
He immediately got up, got the car out of the bay, handed me the keys and let me have my time with the car. He didn’t hover or try and tell me what to do, he just let me take the car out.
When I got back I said I liked it, I asked if there was any movement on the price and we quickly made a deal. I put down my deposit and the next day I returned to pay in full and collect it.
Doing the paperwork at his desk was stress-free and we were in an open space with big windows, his wife working at another desk and their cocker spaniel weaving around my feet.
When everything was signed and paid for we shook hands and I took my car away with a year’s warranty included.
Why was this a great experience?
Because buying a car is stressful and if a salesman had hovered or asked me a bunch of questions while I was trying to figure out if I wanted to spend thousands with them, it would have turned me off. At no point did I feel pressured or like I was a nuisance.
As a young woman, he never patronized me or used pet names, or doubted I knew what I was talking about.
In fact, while I waited for the paperwork to be drawn up a customer came in who wanted her car worked on in the shop out back who was being deliberately difficult and he and his wife dealt with her with aplomb.
How You Can Ensure a Great Customer Service Process
So how can you ensure you provide your customers with the best customer service experience? You need to make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you and give you feedback.
Live chat and communication services are a great way to let your customers interact with you without forcing them to pick up the phone (which many people avoid) or sending off a message into the ether with only a hope that you’ll get a reply.
There are a ton of live chat services and chatbots you can now install on your site, but our Intercom Messenger integration takes the survey-taking process further so that you can get immediate feedback from your customers.
Another great way to ensure you’re providing the best customer experience in all of the places your customers have contact with you is through customer feedback management software.
This software collects all the feedback you receive online and presents it to you on one platform, meaning you can track your feedback and see what common problems your customers have that you can address.
Any company should understand the importance of customer service, but if you really want to ensure you are providing the best experiences possible, you should be tracking service satisfaction metrics like Net Promoter Score (the willingness of your clients to recommend a product or service) and CSAT – Customer Satisfaction Score (whether or not a product or service met the customer’s expectations.
Free-to-Use CSAT Survey Template
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Tracking your data is vital, and if you want to find out more about how you can track your customer service data you can read 5 Crucial Customer Satisfaction Metrics.
How to Put an End to Bad Customer Service
When’s the last time you had to call customer service to get a question answered about a product or service? Did it go something like this? You went to the website, you found a number for a customer service rep, you sat on the phone for an hour due to “long wait times” or “a high volume of calls,” and when someone finally answered, you didn’t even get the help you needed.
Maybe the person was rude, didn’t have the answer to your question, and referred you to a different department.
Or maybe they transferred your call and then it dropped, or you weren’t able to understand them due to a language barrier or a bad connection.
Point being, there are a million and one things that can go wrong with customer service today. Fortunately, there’s also a number of ways to improve bad customer service. Here’s everything you need to know!
Common mistakes bad customer service teams make
#1. Providing only one specific channel for customer service
Customer service teams that provide only a phone number or only an online form are, frankly, doing it wrong. If you currently do this, know that this only allows customers to contact you in ways that they prefer, and you aren’t thinking about what’s best for the customers.
Not every customer loves to sit on the phone with a customer service representative or has access to email. It’s something to think about when creating a customer service plan!
#2. Lacking listening skills and empathy in your customer service representatives
Nothing is worse than being frustrated with a bad customer service representative. Either someone who is rude doesn’t listen to your issue or can’t relate to the problem you are experiencing.
Empathy is a trait that not everyone has and often can’t be taught—not everyone should be sitting behind a customer service desk!
#3. Avoiding ownership
When anyone commits a fault, it’s time to own up. In a business, it happens. Be sure that your customer service reps know when to admit something bad happened and can apologize for it on behalf of the company.
Many times, customers want to hear that apology more than they want their money back.
#4. Not educating customers
Customer service fails when customers don’t understand the company’s process. Whether they’re returning a product or looking to get assistance with some other issue, educating them step-by-step is crucial so no one is confused beyond that interaction.
How to improve the customer service experience
#1. Offering multiple customer service avenues
Providing avenues like a website, phone number, text, email, and social media channels allow you to reach the customer however works best for them.
Today, many millennials hate spending time on the phone. Creating opportunities for them to connect with reps avoids bad customer service experiences that ruin your reputation.
#2. Being proactive in your customer service
Bad customer service is reactive instead of proactive. If you’re only talking to your customers when there’s a problem, then you’re doing something wrong.
Reach out to your customers and provide them an opportunity to give feedback about their experience. This allows you to mitigate any issues before they reach out to you with issues.
#3. Providing consistency in your customer service
Customer service – regardless of what avenue you’re using – should provide a seamless experience for customers. If they speak with someone on the phone, receive an email, get a text, etc., it should all maintain a consistent voice and consistent information.
It helps to reinforce your brand even amongst customer frustration.
#4. Managing customer expectations
Customer expectations are difficult to manage, especially if they’ve been broken and that’s why they’re reaching out to customer service. In the same way that bad customer service fails to educate, managing customer expectations looks to mitigate potential issues.
Companies aren’t perfect, so if your customer knows that things might go wrong and you’re here to help along the way, then you’re already off to a better start.
Bad customer service is an easy way to tell a good company from a bad company. Over half the population won’t do business with a company again that they had a customer service issue with.
Thus, focusing on ways that you can improve your customer service will work wonders for your brand and ensure that you’re doing all that you can for the people who purchase your products and services.
Put the right people in those roles, utilize technology where necessary, be proactive, and manage your customers’ expectations. It’s the best way to bring your business to the next level!