Historically, customer service excellence was reserved for luxury brand experiences only. Now, it’s an almost unconscious expectation of consumers. Every reputable company should strive to achieve excellence in customer interactions to remain competitive and trusted. However, not many people truly understand what service excellence is. That’s why in this short article, we’ll be explaining 9 key principles of achieving customer service excellence for your business.
- 5 Powerful Reasons Why The Customer Is Always Right
- 8 Vital Customer Service Skills You Need To Have In 2021
- 6 Reasons Why The Customer Is NOT Always Right
What is Customer Service?
Customer service is how you deliver a direct one-on-one interaction with customers and your company’s representative. Good customer service is about building a relationship of trust, loyalty and satisfaction beyond this first interaction.
However, it’s also about helping consumers find what they need by focusing on accessibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness to be successful. Overall, customer service is responsible for ensuring buyer satisfaction, increasing the likelihood of repeat business and business success.
What is Customer Service Excellence?
According to Johnston, R. & Clark’s book Service Operations Management, service excellence isn’t about exceeding customers’ expectations. Instead, it focuses primarily on “delivering what is promised and dealing well with any problems and queries that arise”.
So customer service excellence is providing good customer service by satisfying customers with plenty of support and an effortless service experience. It’s a straightforward concept; however, good customer service interactions with customers raise the likelihood of business success, maintaining a sustainable competitive edge.
Why is Excellent Customer Service Important?
69% of customers stop doing business with a company due to one bad experience- a shocking figure. However, this is why you need to consider that not only are customers attracted to your brand for your products or services but will stay for a good customer experience. More so, if you exceed their expectations – they’ll remain loyal, recommend you to others and be long-term trusted advocates.
Service excellence can also lead to viral word of mouth. An excellent method of creating awareness around your brand and business. Ultimately, service excellence is an essential aspect of your operation, allowing you to become a key differentiator and get ahead of the competition.
It PAYS to Achieve Customer Service Excellence
Contrary to many other business areas, where you may opt to train staff in complex concepts formally. Customer service excellence is something that you can cultivate by developing a good company culture, setting a vision and resonating the mission of your business to employees. For this reason, it’s highly cost-effective and can grow the motivation of your team. So how do you achieve customer service excellence? Read on to find out.
Also read: Learn To Sell Like A Pro: 19 Best FREE Online Sales Training Videos
9 Key Principles of Achieving Customer Service Excellence
As a salesperson, understanding and embodying customer service principles is crucial for building strong customer relationships, driving sales, and achieving long-term success. Here are the 10 principles of achieving customer service excellence:
“It’s not my job”
Customer service excellence is going above and beyond for your customers. That’s why you must be ready to help in any way that you can. Not only is the phrase, “it’s not my job!” unhelpful and frankly unprofessional – it’s simply not true. Everyone who works for your company has a duty of care to their customers. Meaning that everyone is responsible for the positive experience they have with you.
2. Ask for Feedback
Customer feedback is the holy grail of unique insights about your service. More so, it’s used to measure customer satisfaction, learn about customer behaviour changes, and identify areas that need immediate improvement.
Strive for ongoing improvement in your customer service skills and processes. Seek feedback from customers, colleagues, and supervisors to identify areas for enhancement. Embrace learning opportunities, adapt to changing customer needs, and stay updated on industry trends to provide the best possible service.
3. Respond to Feedback
Responding to feedback is vital, especially if it’s a complaint, because it gives you a window of opportunity to repair the problem before it gets worse. Not only that, but it proves to the customer that you’re listening and that you are ready to take immediate action to rectify their problem.
4. Impeccable Product Knowledge
It may seem obvious, but achieving customer service excellence stems from having robust product knowledge. In fact, how can you suggest the right product to solve your customers’ problem if you don’t know how they work, their benefits and their features?
Salespeople must possess a deep understanding of their products or services and stay updated on industry trends. By being knowledgeable, they can confidently answer customer queries, offer appropriate recommendations, and showcase expertise, building credibility and trust.
More so, by studying your company’s products and services, you can gain a closer understanding of your customers’ experience, ultimately positioning you as their strongest advocate.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone other than yourself – it can even be developed and improved over time. It’s a vital customer service skill as your ability to empathise with a customer and craft a message that steers them towards your solution is invaluable. For this reason, you need to practice empathy to understand your customers’ frustrations and challenges to overcome their hurdles together.
6. A Great First Impression
The first thing anyone notices when they enter a business place is your attitude – think about it as if it were wet cement. You only have a short amount of time to make a great impression before it sticks – so it better be positive!
7. Position Other Employees Well
You should always speak well of your co-workers, departments, and of course, your business as a whole. Not only does it fill the customer with confidence in your brand and service, but it also assures them that they’re receiving the best. That’s because you’re all working together to provide a positive experience – and you believe in it.
8. Add Value with Extras
Everyone loves to feel unique, valued and cared for – why not extend this to your customers? All you need to do is give small tokens to enhance your customers’ experience. Such as waiving a fee, charging less than the estimate or adding in a little something extra.
9. Learn How to Recover
We all know that things don’t always go as planned in sales. However, to be successful, you need to overcome these situations and recover well to achieve service excellence. Therefore, let the customer express their frustration, confusion, or dissatisfaction to feel heard and valued. Then, when appropriate, apologise for the inconvenience caused and ask how you can amend the situation.
Examples of Customer Service
To ensure you provide great customer service, read on to understand what makes a bad customer service experience in contrast with an excellent one:
Bad Customer Service
- Long wait times: In a world used to instant and readily available information, you’re ruining your customer service experience by making your customers wait in long queue times.
- Unable to reach a human agent: We’ve all been there – “I just want to talk to a human being!.” Don’t restrict your customers from reaching your customer service staff. At best, they’ll be disgruntled, and at worst, they will be suspicious that you have something to hide by being uncontactable.
- Repeating information multiple times: Nobody wants to have to repeat themselves. By making your customers have to repeat information, you show that you haven’t got streamlined processes and don’t value their information.
Customer Service Excellence
- 24/7 support: Considering that 47% of customers believe 24/7 support is a key component of great customer service – you need to ensure you have staff or chatbots in place to be available 24/7.
- Personalising interactions: These days 75% of customers want a personalised customer service experience.
- Resolving issues quickly: 73% of customers say quick resolutions is the top aspect of good customer service.
- Using feedback to develop the customer service experience: PwC surveyed 15,000 consumers and found that 1 in 3 will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience.
- Using customers’ preferred communication channels: In their 2020 report, PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has expanded from 20% to more than 80%.
How to Handle Complaints by Practicing Customer Service Excellence
Complaints are an opportunity for growth and improvement, and by practicing customer service excellence, salespeople can turn unhappy customers into loyal advocates. Here is how to do it:
- Listen actively and empathize: When a customer brings forward a complaint, it is crucial to lend them your full attention. Practice active listening by focusing on their concerns, asking clarifying questions, and demonstrating empathy. Show genuine understanding of their frustration or disappointment, and make them feel heard and valued. Empathy is a powerful tool for building rapport and diffusing tense situations.
- Stay calm and professional: Remaining calm and composed is vital when dealing with complaints. Emotional reactions can escalate the situation and damage the customer relationship further. Maintain a professional demeanor, even in the face of challenging complaints. Remember that your goal is to find a resolution, not engage in a confrontation. A calm and professional approach can help defuse tension and create a productive conversation.
- Apologize sincerely: Acknowledging the customer’s dissatisfaction and offering a sincere apology is important in resolving complaints. Even if the issue was not your fault, apologizing shows empathy and a willingness to take responsibility. A genuine apology can go a long way in diffusing the customer’s anger or frustration and creating a foundation for finding a solution.
- Investigate and understand the problem: To address the complaint effectively, it is essential to thoroughly investigate and understand the issue at hand. Ask pertinent questions, gather relevant information, and actively seek to understand the root cause of the problem. This approach demonstrates your commitment to finding a resolution and prevents similar issues from occurring in the future.
- Offer a solution: After identifying the problem, propose a solution that addresses the customer’s concerns. Provide options if possible, allowing the customer to choose the resolution that best suits their needs. Be flexible and open to negotiation, showing a willingness to go the extra mile to satisfy the customer. By offering solutions, you resolve the current complaint and showcase your dedication to customer service excellence.
- Follow up and ensure satisfaction: Once you resolve the complaint, you should follow up with them to ensure their satisfaction. This step demonstrates your commitment to their happiness and allows you to address any lingering concerns. A follow-up call or email shows that you value their business and are dedicated to maintaining a positive relationship.
- Learn from complaints: Every complaint is an opportunity for growth and improvement. Take the time to reflect on the complaint, identify any patterns or trends, and use the feedback to enhance your sales approach or product/service offering. Sharing the insights gained from complaints with your team can help prevent similar issues from arising, ultimately boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
4 Types of Customer Service Support You Should Know
There are four main types of customer service your sales reps and businesses should know about. Let’s explore proactive vs reactive and synchronous vs asynchronous support below:
Synchronous Vs Asynchronous Support
Modern customer service support typically relies on using live chat. It’s a one-to-one real-time conversation session considered a form of synchronous communication. Like a phone call, synchronous customer support requires attention and has a defined framework with a start and endpoint.
In contrast, asynchronous customer support, like direct messaging or emails, can be understood as conversations that start and stop when convenient for participants. They still happen in real-time but help customers who need flexible support while taking other day-to-day activities like walking the dog.
Reactive Vs Proactive Support
Reactive support is the traditional standard of customer service support. It is where you wait for customers to contact your business for an inquiry or support issue. In contrast, proactive service is the modern standard and is crucial to customer service excellence. It involves anticipating your customer’s needs, challenges or enquiries to provide answers before they even ask the question.
Final Word: Achieving Customer Service Excellence
Achieving customer service excellence is not difficult; however, it requires a constant and present focus – a real commitment to customer support. You can easily accomplish this by training staff and ensuring that everyone’s central focus is on how the customers feel.
Achieving customer service excellence is a critical objective for salespeople looking to excel in their roles and foster customer loyalty.
By embracing the nine key principles outlined in this article, salespeople can establish themselves as trusted advisors and deliver outstanding customer experiences.
Remember, exceptional customer service not only satisfies customers but also serves as a catalyst for business growth and success.
Superior Service: Deliver Outstanding Customer Experiences
Superior Service equips participants with the knowledge and application skills to have a positive attitude, go beyond basic customer service, and exceed customers’ expectations with exceptional service.
Through strong content, highly interactive and industry-specific activities, group discussions, role plays, case studies, engaging videos and Q&A, participants will learn how to solve the most demanding customer service challenges and use service as a differentiator.