What’s more important, the customer service experience or the product?
There are different schools of thought.
Some people say that if the product is good enough then customers will come no matter how poor the customer service experience is.
Others feel that without a stellar customer service experience, nothing will save you.
These are two extremes.
In reality, you need a great product backed up by an even better customer service experience. That’s a tall order but there’s good news, most companies don’t deliver stellar customer services.
That leaves you with a lot of opportunities to shine. After all, good service gets talked about almost as much as poor service.
In this article, you’ll learn a few ways to improve your customer service experience across the board.
What you need to know about customer service experience
Entrepreneurs tend to think of the customer service experience as being limited to the people that reach out with a problem.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, the customer service experience is the sum of all interactions someone has with your business. That includes what happens before the sale, after the sale, and when there’s a problem.
To deliver a truly exceptional experience, every touchpoint should be optimized, not just when there’s a problem.
Whenever a customer reaches out, your only job is to help them reach their ideal outcome with as little friction as possible. They shouldn’t have to jump through hoops for a resolution or reasonable answer.
If you’re the only one handling those different touchpoints then this isn’t as difficult because you care more than an employee ever will.
When your team expands, it’s important to instill the right values in the organization such as:
- Customers are more than transactions
- Customers are more than paychecks
- Their goals as individuals or organizations help you achieve your goal as a business
- As long as you’re on the journey together with the customer, they deserve respect, assistance, and understanding.
Let’s look at a few ways to deliver an exceptional customer service experience.
Say thank you often
Apart from being polite, you should be telling your customers thank you often and with conviction.
They’re the reason you can keep your doors open. They’ve actively chosen you and they continue to choose you every time they pay your subscription fees or buy another from you.
It’s only right to thank them.
Use it at the beginning of the interaction with a phrase such as “thank you for contacting us today.” This shows you understand that they’ve taken time out of their day to be there with you.
Use it during the interaction with phrases such as “thank you for pointing that out to us.” When you do this, it shows the respect you have for their opinions and the way they’re interacting with your product.
Also use it at the end of the interaction as a way to sign off.
Thanking your customers shouldn’t be hard and if it is then it may be time to reevaluate how you look at the people who keep you in business.
Be proactive with your customer service experiences
Customer service is often a passive activity. Support reps wait for a customer to contact them before they jump into gear.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this but it could be much better. Instead of waiting for a problem to come up, ask customers if you can help them and make sure they’re getting along well with your products and services.
Call or message them to understand how they’re using their product and help them improve that usage.
For example, Acme Inc. sells CRM software. Many of their users are able to get up and running with the basic functions quickly. The advanced functions like lead scoring usually go unused. It knows the people who do use lead scoring are more loyal and get more value out of the software.
Instead of hoping customers figure the feature out or stumble on a knowledge base article, the Acme Inc. team proactively emails and calls customers.
The goal of that call is to understand how customers are using the product, what’s lacking, and inform them about features and use cases they may have missed.
Customers are happy and Acme Inc. increases retention.
Some people consider this a different discipline called customer success but it’s all part of the customer service experience.
You’re the expert, act like it
There are many cases when a customer may know more about your industry than you do. That’s alright. They don’t know more about your products and services than you do.
They’ll call, message, and email you for all types of information about your products, pricing, technical considerations, and more.
It’s your job to answer them in a timely manner. The worst thing that can happen during an interaction where you’re getting tough questions is to say “I don’t know.” In essence, you’re telling the customer you don’t care.
If you don’t care then why should they? Even if you don’t know something, there are better ways to handle the situation without making something up. You can tell them to give you a moment to find out for them, let them know you’ll call them back, or any number of responses.
At the same time, speak clearly when you’re having a phone conversation. Many people don’t realize that they’re barely audible. When they mumble, it gives the impression of insecurity or being unsure. Experts are secure and confident in their knowledge.
After every interaction with a customer, send a short survey or questionnaire that asks them how you did and ways you can improve. This will help you benchmark your results and improve over time.
The customer service experience is wide and varied. Even the definition is a bit formless. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s incredibly important in your business.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the customer service experience because it’s a huge topic. With that being said, you still have a solid foundation from this post.
If there was one thing I’d want you to take away from this article, it would be the section on reaching out proactively. This will work wonders for improving your customer service experience and encouraging customers to come back for more.
Let me know how you’re creating an amazing customer service experience in the comments and don’t forget to share.
Daniel Ndukwu is a regular contributor to the PayKickstart blog. He has extensive experience with online businesses, conversion optimization, and subscription revenue models. When he’s not writing insightful content, he works with other entrepreneurs to help them grow their bottom line.