When you provide good service, your customers are willing to spend more. They then know that they are fully taken care of, even with larger, more risky purchases. So when you, as a company, improve your customer service, it’s not just proof of your good intentions. It also has a very tangible benefit that impacts sales.
What skills does a service employee need?
Before you can improve your customer service, it must be clear what the requirements are for the responsible employees.
Patience and social strength
This property is the most important. An employee dealing with disappointed or confused customers requires patience. He should listen to them, possibly answer questions several times and slowly go through the solution steps. He should also be polite and communicative and generally have good dealings with people. This also includes empathy and the ability to respond flexibly to different character types.
All social skills are of no help if the service employee searches for an answer in their documents for too long, forgets a request or takes too long to answer. Organizational talent and your own work structure, or the ability to take over a given one, are necessary.
Extensive product knowledge
This does not have to be the case from the start. It is much more important that the employee can acquire knowledge quickly or knows where to find any information. The responsibility lies with you and your employees. Train new colleagues intensively and jointly maintain a manual with well-sorted keywords. This manual must be constantly expanded and updated.
It helps if you have service team members who are fluent in different languages . However, the language most commonly spoken by your customer base must be mastered by everyone. Grammar is also important. Because it is often important who exactly did or said what when in order to solve a customer problem. The language skills must also be good enough to explain complicated facts in a simple way.
Critical ability and soothing words
In customer service, appropriate, factual criticism is expressed as well as criticism that is exaggerated and mainly consists of (negative) emotions. Irrespective of this, the service employee must remain solution-oriented and recognize where improvements really need to be made.
Actively solicit reviews
Self-motivated reviews are almost only given in the case of dissatisfaction or extreme satisfaction. All customers who are doing as expected will not write anything about it. You see no need. So it helps if you actively ask for it without pushing.
Evaluation queries can be sent via the software with an individual scale . Simply ask several aspects one after the other. Download the answers and you already have a clear table or file that can be evaluated in some other way. This gives you insight into what is working well and what needs improvement.
Personal conversations with customers
Your sales staff and all other departments with direct customer contact will hear statements in their everyday work. They should pass these on and record them in a database as if they were written customer reviews. For improvements, these statements are taken into account in the same way as those from the portals or questionnaires.
Evaluate information from the data
Hidden information is often in the customer data . When and where does someone cancel their purchase? What could be missing here? Which campaigns work particularly well? When does someone unsubscribe from the newsletter and for what reason? If the contract is terminated, a reason should also be requested. It’s a pity that a customer leaves – but exactly these answers are worth their weight in gold.
Maintain after-sales customer service
The customer journey does not end with the first purchase. Customer service after the transaction is just as important. If this is done in an exemplary manner, the customer will buy the same product again or an additional one (cross- and upselling). So do not see the service after the purchase as a “nice to have”, but as a central part of your business processes. Hire enough employees or, in the case of a smaller team, clearly assign responsibilities.
Long-term customer support improves ROI, since acquiring new customers is, on average, more expensive than retaining an already convinced buyer. Lasting customer proximity is particularly important when it comes to contracts, because anyone who terminates a contract rarely comes back to the same provider.
A step that is often forgotten in customer service
After an employee responds to a request, don’t just delete and forget the case. Better to ask after a while if everything is going well now. For the customer, this results in a particularly caring feeling. Maybe he doesn’t want to “disturb” again after a long process. This reduces this hurdle.
Since no employee can remember every service request, use automatic reminders for this. Ticketing systems and CRM programs provide options for this. If there is no further answer or a “yes, everything is fine” the case can be ticked off.
Make life easier for everyone with FAQs
At work you will notice which questions are piling up and, of course, what are the obvious questions about your respective performance . Examples are: Where do you deliver? What is the return policy? What is your product (not) compatible with? What are the usage rights of creative products?
Gather the questions and associated answers on one easy-to-find page. Link there to further, more detailed information. These can be outside of your own website, for example when it comes to legal aspects. FAQs also make it possible to refer to these pages for further reading when talking to the customer.
Improve in-store customer service
For the most part, we are assuming a service that takes place online or via a telephone hotline. Of course there is also the service in the shop. The same basic rules apply here. In addition, a contact person should always be present . Even if he is asked the same thing ten times a day, he has to be patient. Or just put up a sign.
However, it doesn’t help if salespeople are too pushy. Most customers want to browse and read information on their own first. They then ask their detailed questions later or would like a personal consultation.
Build as much trust online as possible
There are numerous scammers on the web and it is not easy to spot them. So unless you are a well-known brand, there is always uncertainty. Counteract this with a detailed imprint and a data protection declaration (these are mandatory anyway).
Also answer questions about delivery times and quality. Present your company on the site as well as individual employees. Preferably the founders and the direct contacts of the buyers, with photos and contact options. Customer ratings after verified purchases or social media profiles with real interaction also increase trust.
Recognize the wrong audience
It happens again and again that someone who was not actually part of the target group becomes your customer. This may be due to misleading communications or unusual special offers . Such cases must be accepted but, above all, recognized as quickly as possible.
A vivid example is when someone gives a one-star rating to a detective novel and writes, “I don’t like detective stories.” It is either a bad buy by this person, or the cover and blurb suggested the wrong genre.
Improve your customer service with measurable goals
Measurability is the basis of all objectives in a company. It rarely helps to just want to be “better” than before if that “better” isn’t fixed. An example of a clear objective would be to raise the rating average from 3 to 4 (on a 5 scale) and to fix any issues that were mentioned more than once.
This should be achieved by the end of the year . With three new employees and the establishment of a self-help page. Because up until now, too much time and energy has been spent on answering the same questions over and over again. Other goals could be 10 referrals, raise the repurchase rate to 30% or only have 20 service requests nationwide.
Sometimes copy & paste is better, sometimes personal explanations
Have you ever found a proven explanation for a problem? Then create this as a module in the ticket system . Wildcards help to adapt the sentence to the case at hand.
This answer not enough for the recipient? Then talk to him by phone or send a detailed, individual answer with background information. For example, with a reason why something doesn’t work, instead of just saying that it’s unfortunately not possible. Many systems now also allow voice messages. These allow a detailed, verbal and at the same time asynchronous conversation.
Create a detailed profile of each customer in the CRM
Whether you’re serving a small B2B customer base or thousands of in-store buyers, collect all available purchase-related data. This includes the address when registering, information about what the person bought, which products they looked at, reviews and complaints.
Note and use purchasing behavior
A well-maintained database not only helps to respond when something is wrong in customer service. It also allows making suggestions , for example for further purchases. It also allows you to identify your customers ‘ behavior patterns . If someone buys more children’s products, you can recommend more to them. Best for the next higher age group.
Target group classification
Use the data to segment your customers into target groups for further advertising campaigns . The various points in the buyer’s journey are also important. A common mistake companies make here is to recommend products that have long been bought and are not usually needed twice. This too is perceived as poor, ignorant service.
Offer different service level agreements
Offer contract customers and B2B different service levels depending on the rate . This means that not only you as an entrepreneur divide into A, B and C customers. Rather, the customer himself can choose whether he is willing to pay more. Extended accessibility or prioritization in the response time, the number of inquiries that are included, a personal contact person or the time to resolution, everything can be negotiated.