How Can We Help? Four Ways to Improve Your Customer Service
The customer is always right…but sometimes they need help. Sometimes that’s a question about a product – but it’s also making sure that product is exactly what it needs to be in the first place. See, here at CMW, quality is key, and that means that good customer service includes not only being there for a client after the service, but also before and during. They should never be in the dark – and, critically, you shouldn’t either. Here are four simple steps that have worked for CMW to turn on the light and improve our customer service.
- Access (Before). Great customer service starts with access. Can they find your great customer service – or even just you – in the first place? It might seem like a given, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses needlessly complicate access to their services without even realizing it. One great way to solve this, that we really believe in, is a “blind shopping” test. Basically, have a third party that isn’t familiar with your company act as a potential client and run them through some simulations. How quickly, easily, efficiently, can they find what they need to find? You don’t want your customers to have to jump through hoops to find answers or worse, never find them or give up before they do.
- Clarity (Before & During). What’s the difference between a client’s needs and a kitten? A client’s needs can never, ever be fuzzy. Fuzzy details are the greatest enemy of good customer service. What does your client want? Really…what does your client actually want? Specifically, logistically, step-by-step. Make sure your team is persistent and insistent in understanding their every requirement to a T; never assume what a client wants, never begin work based on what you think they want.
- Expectations (During). This step can be a challenge, but – believe me – it’s essential. Customer service is critically empowered by realistic expectation-setting. If you know you can’t get a project done by Wednesday, you shouldn’t promise to get a project done by Wednesday; request more time. Yes, the client may be disgruntled. And yes, maybe, worst case scenario – they cancel. However, losing one client is better than compromising your reputation and integrity by missing a deadline without letting the customer know. Be honest and straightforward. It can be difficult, but whether they seem like it or not…your client will at least appreciate that.
- Follow-up (After). Finally, the best customer service doesn’t end after the service is complete. Reach out to your client to follow up, rather than waiting for them to call you. Check in and make sure that they received everything they expected, that they are satisfied with the result; ask if there is anything else that you can do for them. If you wait too long, you risk…the water cooler. The water cooler is what happens if your client stews on a perceived production issue for days before contacting your customer service about it, and in that time, they talk. They spread their dissatisfaction to their colleagues – spread something that may very well be their issue, not yours. Practicing proactive follow-up is the best preventative measure for a potential soiling of your reputation.
Customer service can be tough. It can mean telling a client something they don’t want to hear. It can mean asking again, and again, at the sake of sounding repetitive, exactly what they do want. And it can mean trying to politely explain to a client something they might be doing – well – wrong. But excellent customer service is key in forming strong relationships with your clients, maintaining a positive reputation, and – perhaps most importantly here at CMW – never letting quality suffer. It, supported by the right processes, becomes a point of differentiation that, if you’re committed, will continue to create a gap between you and your competitors. Even when customers try out a competitor, they’ll come back when they realize your customer service is unmatched. Alright, so…any questions? How can we help?