Most business leaders agree that customer service is the primary driver of success in any business, whether an enterprise or startup business. Any organization not focusing on customer service misses out on opportunities for positive engagement that can lead to loyal and long-term customers, plus they face the negative effects when dissatisfied customers blast the firm and its products.
Focusing on customer service was always critical for success, as dissatisfied customers don’t buy again and share their dissatisfaction with friends and family. But, times have changed the past few decades. Now a single dissatisfied customer can reach many other consumers through social media that potentially go viral and, if their complaint is picked up by the media, your bad reputation may reach millions.
Another way social media impacts customer service is through the channels customers use in hopes of getting satisfaction when there’s been a failure. Customer service expanded from its original call-in format where customers hope to speak with a call service agent or returning to the establishment. Customer service now crosses multiple channels that include SMS, email, chat, social media, and mobile interactions, in addition to standard channels like phone and in-person.
Businesses must find better and more efficient ways to serve clients where they are most comfortable communicating, especially since platforms like Facebook and Twitter leave them open to criticism on a mass scale via a single negative Facebook post.
Why focusing on customer service helps boost revenue
Take a look at the graphic below showing the impact of customer retention on revenues.
In addition, from studies we know:
- It’s 5X more expensive to replace a customer (who leaves when you piss them off) than to keep that customer by focusing on customer service
- Reducing customer churn (the percentage of customers who stop buying your products) by as little as 5% increases revenue by as much as 125%
- Satisfied customers likely give word-of-mouth referrals, which is especially important in the age of social media
- It’s easier to upsell and cross-sell existing customers, hence they produce a higher revenue than new customers who might only buy infrequently or only some of your products
- Some existing customers become brand advocates, supporting you against criticism from others
Yet, only about 2/3 of business executives feel that focusing on customer service is warranted.
Hopefully, the arguments above changed your mind, but you still might wonder how to focus more deeply on customer service.
If you want to boost your revenue by focusing on customer service, here are four ways to get you started.
1. Respond immediately
Regardless of the channel, it is important to respond to customers as quickly as possible. Today’s customers are busy and want to feel heard when they feel unsatisfied with a product or have questions. Returning their call or making a Facebook post or responding to a Tweet proves you take customer satisfaction seriously and have processes in place to address any problems or concerns they have quickly.
Customers increasingly use social media to contact businesses with their questions and complaints, perhaps hoping for a quick response and relishing the ability to voice their complaints or questions on the platform most readily available to them at any given time. Plus, with social media, you don’t have to wait for someone to answer the phone or show up in the online chat.
Increasingly, companies hold customer service hours on select social media platforms. During designated hours, social media platforms are manned by customer service personnel who can fix problems and answer questions.
Even negative posts can turn into positive experiences, as long as you handle them quickly, with empathy and respect. With the right response, customers are grateful and become brand advocates who like, comment, and retweet posts from the organization.
I did a project once for Disney dealing with their online message board. Folks could ask questions, voice concerns, or ask for advice. Participation on these boards helps Disney by freeing up employees for other tasks because message board issues are handled by customers and offering insights, support, and encouragement to less experienced users. Some participants even address failures that cause dissatisfaction such as long lines (with solutions) or service failures. They become advocates for the brand, which lessens dissatisfaction.
That’s a huge benefit for Disney. But, building a community as they had on their message board requires a consistent focus on customer satisfaction and rewarding members for their participation.
2.Cultivate referrals through incentives
Have you ever considered generating new business through your customers by offering incentives? Talkable shares that referral marketing is the most effective customer acquisition strategy.
Customers love incentives, and it is a great way to introduce new products to receive feedback. Just as importantly, it is an excellent way to gain referrals and new business from existing customers’ friends and family. Offer discounts, products and rewards points for referrals.
Obviously, customers are only willing to provide referrals, even if incentivized, if customer satisfaction is a key value of the firm. No one wants their friends to attack them over a referral that turned out badly.
3. Show concern for your customers and go the extra mile
Sometimes customers get upset, even if the issue lies with them or is caused by someone else. Perhaps the customer received a product and opened the box too quickly, and the product broke. Or a loud party at your hotel kept other guests away. Even a delayed product may not be your fault but a function of bad weather.
You’re under no obligation to replace the product, refund the cost of the hotel stay, or compensate for late delivery, yet the customer is unhappy.
But, what is the cost of doing nothing?
Will you lose the customer?
Will they slam you on social media?
The costs to make the customer whole again may be much less than the cost of doing nothing.
Satisfied customers are likely to remember your kindness and buy from you again. Showing empathy and kindness can launch a long and valuable business relationship that boosts revenue in the long-run.
4. Invest in call center software
Streamlining the call center experience lets your customers know their concerns are important to you. Call center software supports both automated and live inbound and outbound communications across voice, SMS, email, chat, social and mobile interactions.
Using call center software, agents have quick and easy access to customer history and other information to help them quickly assess and address issues by seeing the whole story in data as the customer relates it from their perspective. They do not need to contact someone in manufacturing or sales to get answers since they have all the tools they need on their desktop.
But, the software is only 1 piece of the puzzle when it comes to running a call center.
- You need to invest heavily in hiring and training your call center staff to be empathetic and listen carefully.
- You need call center people who understand and can communicate effectively with diverse customers.
- Empower your staff to make adjustments without requiring approval from someone else
For instance, I have a friend who consults with a major hotel chain. They keep gift baskets behind the front desk. When a guest comes in or phones with a complaint, the front desk person can do anything from comping the stay to providing a gift basket commensurate with the inconvenience.
Adding these customer-centric methods helps your enterprise boost revenue
Customers want to feel listened to and valued. The more you can do to foster those feelings, the better and more smoothly your business relationship will run. Call center software has a way of encompassing a few of these tips since it offers you quick and simple ways to respond to customers’ needs on multiple channels in an instant.
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