5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service

By katie simpson on March 2, 2015

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Providing exceptional customer service is becoming more important than ever. If you can raise your customer retention rate by 2%, it's equivalent to reducing your company's costs by 10%. 55% of customers would pay extra to guarantee extra service. Loyal customers buy more, become brand advocates, and can do so much for your company.  

So how can you improve your customer service? Here are five tips based on research: 

1. Consistent experience from start to finish

Every customer you have, especially in field service, has multiple experiences with your company. The process from the first initial inquiry until payment has been received is called a customer journey

Knowing a customer's overall feeling from the entire range of experiences is crucial. McKinsey & Company found that measuring satisfaction across the customer's journey was 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness at each specific interaction. 

Creating an effective and consistent customer experience from start to finish can help increase revenue. The same study found that creating a great customer journeys can lift revenue up to 15% and lower the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%. 

2. Address your unhappy customers

Every business at one time or another has an unhappy customer. Maybe there was confusion about where they lived and the technician arrived late. Perhaps there was a miscommunication about the cost of service. Whatever happened, your customer wasn't happy.

There are various studies that agree on one thing: Unhappy customers are dangerous. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that bad customer service stories reach twice as many people as good customer service stories. Ruby Newell-Lerner, a customer service expert, found that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a negative one. 

In an era of social media and online reviews, unhappy customers can scare away potential customers and undermine your brand. Taking the time to listen and try to solve their problems can save the relationship and reduce the chances of seeing a scathing review of your company online. 

How can you keep your customers? RightNow found that 92% of consumers would go back to a company after a negative experience if they:

  • Received a follow up or a correction from a supervisor (63%)
  • Were offered a discount (52%)
  • Were offered proof of enhanced customer service (49%)

3. Get feedback from your silent majority

It can be a struggle dealing with unhappy customers, but are you addressing all of them? Research says probably not. White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that for every person who complains, 26 other customers stay silent. That means you hear from less than 4% of dissatisfied customers. 

So how do you get the quiet ones to speak up? Offering a survey can help your silent majority to speak up and share their thoughts. One way we encourage feedback is to raffle off an Amazon gift card to those that respond. Making it easy and appealing can help you hear from more customers, and reaching out to customers to get their feedback can be crucial to retaining more of them. In the long run, their thoughts can help you improve your overall service and ensure you have more engaged and loyal customers.

4. Got good and bad news? Choose your order wisely

When you need to hear good news and bad news, can the order affect how you feel? A study done by researchers at UC-Riverside tested the order and found it did affect the listener's reaction. 

When given the bad news first, listeners felt better at the end. But when give the bad news last? The listener is more likely to change their behavior. Keeping this in mind when chatting with a customer can help you keep customers happier or motivate them to act. 

5. Create a human connection 

Customer loyalty isn't as simple as fast service and low costs. So why do people pay so much more for Apple products? People have an emotional connection to the brand. 

Gallup recently found that banks' customers were six times more likely to be engaged when service was speedy. However, when customers perceived tellers to be courteous and willing to help the customer, customers were nine times more likely to be engaged.

We can also see that in how people prefer to solve their customer service problems: 90% of Americans prefer to solve their issues with a real person over the phone. The percent that are interested in an automated voice response system? Just 20%. 

So how can you create a more human connection? Look at how you deal with customers today. Are there ways to make it easier for customers to chat directly with employees? Employees only ask for a customer's name 21% of the time. Do your employees take the time to get to know their customers?  Can you train or incentivize them to provide better service? 

Taking the time to connect with your customers will give them a better experience. Those experiences are fundamental to creating long-lasting relationships. 

Great customer service isn't just about branding. Loyal customers help your business thrive. The average cost of losing a customer is $243

If there's anything you take away from this, creating a consistent and exceptional experience from start to finish will improve overall satisfaction. Even better, you'll have more advocates for your brand. 

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