In my previous article, we discussed how much bad customer service might be costing you. Companies that produce, sell, install and maintain highly technical products have multiple customer service issues to address. They often have to deploy technical staff to solve technology problems. And, because they are dealing with customers who have high expectations, they have to have lightning speed response time and rapidly resolve customer issues.
Here are some key customer service items you should consider that might allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition:
Open Up More Channels for Customer Feedback. Today’s customers need many and varied means of communicating with your company. Whether you use a survey solution like SurveyMonkey or a simple “How did we do?” questionnaire after a project wraps up, you need to allow for feedback. You need to provide a feedback mechanism on your website and be vigilant in your response times. Consider conducting a focus group to determine what technology questions are of paramount importance to your clients, or utilize social media to keep your existing customers informed and tuned in. Get a converstion started. Whatever you choose to do to open up pathways of communication, make sure you are responding and answering customer queries in a timely and professional manner.
Become the Customer Service Team from Hell. Experts will tell you that customer service is all about your team and how you manage for customer service success. Make “customer service attitude” a focal point of the hiring process – nothing beats hiring the right attitude. Senior management has to emphasize the importance of customer service – emails, phone calls, social media responses – your mantra has to be that every contact with customers is critical. Building consistency in your team’s response time and response quality is what awesomeness is all about.
Get Personal. Nothing screams “You’re important” more than a hand-written note. A timely ‘thank-you for your business’ that is personal and appreciative is a critical building block for long-term customer loyalty.
Empower Your Employees. No one (except the culprit) likes micro-managers. And no one wants to wait around for your company to come up with a solution. Customers want problems resolved – now! So empower your employees to make decisions. Set boundaries, but give them autonomy.
If You Don’t Measure It, It’s Not Real. Come up with a simple check-list of the improvements you want to integrate regarding customer service. Where can we improve? How will we execute? How will we know if we are being successful? Then, track and analyze the results every six months. Hold yourself and others accountable. If you don’t measure your results, you’re simply not as serious as you think about improving one area of your business that you can certainly out-perform your competitors in.
Finally, no matter how proactive you are, you’ll never get out in front of every customer service issue. But a well-coordinated team, deploying various feedback mechanisms, timely response, and personalized support will help keep unhappy customers from going off the deep end and voicing their displeasure across the social media landscape.