Many businesses focus on stocking the best products, selling at the most competitive prices, and advertising to customers effectively, only to fail in the end.
What are the keys to better customer satisfaction? How can businesses improve the bottom line by inspiring their customers to be more loyal to the brand?
This article answers these questions.
Set the right example
As the owner, CEO, or manager of an enterprise, you are its first and most important customer service officer. You set the tone for how your employees will eventually treat your customers. But how can the head of a business set the example of customer service for that business, when they are rarely in direct contact with customers? They do it by the way they treat the employees.
The direction of your business’ customer service is determined by your ability to walk your talk. You cannot demand that your employees treat customers with respect and consideration when you do not do the same to the employees. The first principle of great customer service is internal service; this is demonstrated by how superiors treat their subordinates – there’s always a ripple effect.
Customers want to be heard
Customers know they matter to your business and want this to reflect in the way they are treated. But how can you show customers they matter if you never ask them what they want? Businesses often assume they know what buyers want. But to give people what they want, you must first listen to what they have to say.
You must find ways to talk to your customers. Everyone has something to say, but most people will not tell you. Customers are more likely to leave than speak up. To get customers to be honest about their experience doing business with you, you must go out of your way to make them comfortable enough to supply that information. If you can get customers to talk to you, they will be more likely to stay.
How do you do this?
For businesses that have in-person contact with customers, customer interviews offer the best method. Customers come into your business every day but remain anonymous. Ask a customer their name and remember it; find out a little about them and why they use your services. Ask about the challenges they have when shopping with you.
These are the basis for building trust and forming relationships. Most people never register a complaint because they don’t want to appear troublesome or be the reason why someone loses their job. But creating a positive atmosphere can help people overcome that reluctance. You can also record every information a customer provides.
For online businesses, surveys present the best chance to get the same information. Dealing with online customers is different from dealing with in-person customers. Their primary complaints will be about issues with the online platform. Common complaints include slow-loading pages, poor site navigation, misinformation, emails, or complaints that are not answered.
Whether your business is online or offline, you should find a way to say thank you to customers who take the time to talk to you. Some options for rewarding your customers include discount cards, vouchers, and coupons.
Complaining customers are your allies
Most businesses make the mistake of treating complaining customers as bad buys because they assume that silent customers are happy with them. But customers who complain are among a business’ best allies. If they are complaining, they probably have not decided to leave and they hope your business will change. Secondly, they offer insights into why other customers leave.
How you treat complaining customers informs the direction of your customer service. It can be hard to accommodate complaints when you think you are doing your best, but regardless, the customer is still providing feedback. If you can get your feelings out of the way, you may glean helpful information that will improve your business. When a customer complains, here’s what you can do:
- Listen: Most of the time this is all the customer needs.
- Apologize: Sometimes businesses think they can alleviate a customer’s hurt by offering compensation. This not always true, sometimes an apology is all they are looking for.
- Resolve it: If you listen and apologize, the solution becomes more meaningful to the customer.
- Follow-up: It is not just enough to solve the problem; reaching out afterward reaffirms your commitment to the relationship.
Change your business’ behavior
All the customer interviews and apologies in the world will not save your business if you keep doing the same things that customers complain about. As a matter of fact, customers get angrier if you apologize without changing; they think you are being manipulative. So, if you have no intention of changing, do not ask customers for their feedback.
Note that changing your behavior is more important than improving the quality of your product or services. 40% of customers prefer to buy a product that is slightly inferior if they love the brand that is selling it. So in the eyes of buyers, good customer service trumps quality products with customer service that sucks. People will pay more to buy from a business where they are treated better.
That is the bottom line.
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