Because customer service is so vital to a healthy business, we sat down with our own head of CS, Jenny Pratt, to get the lowdown on what it takes to keep consumers happy.
We all know what customer service is, but what makes it good or even great? Great customer service includes many aspects of not only communication but relationship building as well. It’s going above and beyond for your clients. It’s providing a valuable service with a human touch. It’s about being available when someone needs you and keeping consistent.
Customer service is crucial, and those that don't prioritize it are doing themselves a disservice to those who are keeping them afloat. Here are a few key ways in which excellent customer service can give you a leg-up:
These are all winning concepts that you should aspire to for your brand. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't take much for businesses to provide the best customer service possible. It also happens to be an amazing brand awareness driver if done correctly. Remember, customers and clients, love to talk about their good experiences. Going the extra mile to bolster your customer service strategy with additional resources could pay off in the long run.
We know that it can be considered secondary for a lot of established brands that think they can't take a hit with mediocre assistance on a help line, but let us all learn something from Millennial mega-brand Glossier—its gTeam is there to add value, not provide a robotic safety net. Results: happy and loyal consumers that keep coming back for more, and voluntarily relay their positive feelings about the company to their peers, helping to convert more customers.
Whether you're offering a service or a product, the same idea prevails if your bottom line depends on a clientele. If your customer success department's been leaving something to be desired and you're not sure how to go about rectifying that, keep reading. We enlisted the help of our very own Jenny Pratt, senior director of customer success here at Dash Hudson, to impart her wisdom. She touches on why customer support is so important, and how to leverage that strategy to increase brand sentiment, and subsequently, boost business.
One thing that will always ring true for brands is that great customer service takes work. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Setting clear expectations, strategies and policies surrounding the customer service experience with your team is a must in order to ensure consistent, happy customers. Here’s how to get started:
The people who buy your products are not robots, so why would you act like one—or worse, have them as reps? There's a reason why corporations get a bad rap: most entities have lost that human sensibility, aka our most powerful common denominator: compassion. It's easier for small companies to be high-touch, but it's worth the investment for all enterprises to ensure repeat business and growth.
Jenny mentions that connecting with individuals is more important than ever in today's market because while "it's easy to set up automation systems that take care of feedback and questions, what consumers want is authenticity." A huge buzzword that actually has great meaning. How many times have you received programmed email replies from representatives or been on the line with a voice recording, feeling frustrated and appalled? Once is too many times.
"With so much happening with AI marketing technology right now, I think I speak for most people when I say that I can sense a robot vs a human," Jenny continues, "and that the latter is forevermore pleasant." Point taken, being genuine is priceless.
There are two major points to good customer service: making people feel valued and amending your mistakes. "There are basic no-nos like being slow to respond, being inconsistent, and the dreaded misspelling of names," says Jenny. But it's also important to not back anyone into a corner, where they don't feel good about how things are being handled. Any sort of forceful entrapment will lead people to feel negative about your brand.
When letting things slide, like exceptionally amending a return policy or giving someone a store credit or discount for their trouble, "the chances of the customer returning or referring you to a friend are higher," states Jenny. You'll always please people by being available, understanding, and flexible.
The role of a customer service department revolves around the consumer, and therefore should focus its entire purpose on that. Customer service reps are not just there to put out fires, they need to get in the weeds to anticipate needs.
"It’s important to consider organization tools and processes that provide the customer success team with strong insights into consumer behavior," Jenny says. Monitoring patterns, feedback, and sentiment is the customer representative's job. Jenny also mentions that brands "should be able to predict a customer’s needs and have a sense of where they’re finding value before actually hearing from them."
Simply put, don't wait for people to come to complain and wonder why. Anticipate needs and value-adds by getting to know your clientele.
Jenny and her team often visit Dash Hudson customers all over the world to give our members some face time when possible. "I’m responsible for ensuring that our customers are finding value in our product," she muses, continuing: "speaking with and visiting them to share updates and receive their feedback is a way to establish a real connection with them and to show that we are not robots!" (See point #1.)
Find your version of face time for your business—what would your consumers appreciate on top of what you're already contributing? How do you deal with inquiries that come through? It might feel costly at first, but you'll notice the benefits down the road are endlessly better than if you don't do anything.
Staying on top of a solid customer service strategy is a huge challenge for any business, and the exact thing that unites us is partially to blame for the difficulties encountered: our humanity. We all have bad days and there's a lot beyond our reach, but "you have to be able to respond to issues that might be out of your comfort zone and/or control," argues Jenny.
While the challenges are real, providing bad customer service doesn't stop at the one person on the receiving end of it. It can have a major ripple effect on all your activities. "Weak customer service means not just losing one customer, but losing many more potential future customers," asserts Jenny. Just like a game of Dominos.
On the flip side, the chain of cause and effect also applies to positive sentiment. One of the biggest wins for any business is consumer advocacy, and one way to lock that in is with great customer service. Just as people will ditch you after a negative experience, they will support you and share their favorable feelings with friends, family, and in this day and age, any online outlet that provides a stage for feedback.
"Receiving referrals and endorsements is a major customer success win," says Jenny, stating that "it is the ultimate gold star." The greatest reward for any customer service department is knowing that your dedication led to loyalty and that it's consequently helping drive your brand. "Loyal customers will happily market your product or service without you asking, and support you in your growth," vouches Jenny.
Social channels are an opportunity for brands to right a wrong or just to spread positivity. The worst thing a brand can do is not address a public (or private, for that matter) complaint or be condescending to people. When asked if social media plays a role in customer service these days, Jenny is quick to respond with a "Yes! Big time."
She goes on to explain: "Today’s generation lives online. Social media not only provides a space for brands to build communities, but also to highlight strong customer service-related activities for potential new customers." Some smart brands have their customer success reps monitor social channels to respond to fan love, inquiries, or complaints.
"Your future customers are most likely scoping out your Instagram feed," mentions Jenny, "and may even be commenting... So be thoughtful and be responsive!" Couldn't have said it better.
If you want to do things right with customer service, it starts with one simple approach: "Shower your customers with love," Jenny affirms. "Be human. Build strong relationships. That loyalty will be crucial to your success."
Being human, being available and consistent, and providing value to your customers. While there is an endless list of things brands should be doing to maintain good customer service, these three elements will create a secure and long-lasting relationship between you and your clients.
Customers can be so much more than a person spending money on your product or service. Providing the best customer service can turn them into not only returning customers, but brand advocates that spread your brand story and name organically. It’s truly a win-win.
A great example of excellent customer service is responding to your customers comments on social media. This may seem obvious, but many brands only respond to commenters that are being negative or directly asking questions. While those are still important comments to pay attention to, try to also interact with users who are showing their love or interest in your product by asking them if they need any support or additional information.
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