Do you offer 5-star service?
We’ve all heard the expression “Cash is king” But you’ll find, that ‘cash’ in the hands of a customer, and so surely the real expression is (or at least should be) The Customer is King (or Queen).
With that in mind, I wonder:
Do you provide 5-Star Service?
Does your team?
To every Customer / Client / Enquiry, everytime?
I know we don’t go out there with the intention of offering a poor service, but for a multiple of reasons, we do.
- It might be, you had a bad nights sleep, and woke tired, frustrated, late?
- It could be, you got cut up on the way to work, and the red-mist hasn’t yet fully settled?
- It could be, you ate something that didn’t agree with you, and feeling rather ‘icky’?
And, through no fault of your own, the experience the end user receives is less than they expected!
What is poor customer service?
Poor customer service happens anytime your business fails to meet a customer’s expectations. It could be the quality of service your customer received, how long it takes for you to answer their phone call or just their overall experience with your brand.
It doesn’t have to be huge, (in fact it rarely is), but it’s just enough for the customer to feel less about you and the brand than they did before their latest experience.
What is the cost of poor customer service?
- Poor customer service will reduce the number of customers interacting with a business.
- Fewer customers will cause a loss in profit for any business.
- Loss of business may also force a company to attempt to save money (often through reduced staff training, lower salaries, and fewer incentives) Creating an ever-decreasing spiral which eventually leads to closure!
Consumer surveys consistently show that complaints are on the rise with customers becoming increasingly fickle in the face of a bad experience.
The Ombudsman Services report last year estimated that UK businesses lose about £37 billion every year due to bad customer service. When customers have a bad experience, around a third will respond by spending less on that brand and are more likely to switch to a rival. They are also more likely to complain to their friends, tweet, or leave bad online reviews. The report revealed that the most complained about the industry are retail, followed by telecommunications, with energy, transport, and banking coming in equal third.
Poor customer service not only affects the consumer but is also demoralising for the staff on the other end. Systems that leave the customer on hold or require them to repeat information many times over mean that instead of helping serve customers, call centre staff spend most of their time apologising to irate callers and directing complaints. This isn’t helpful and is extremely costly, especially taking into account that many of these customers will not be coming back.
There is plenty of evidence to show that customers value a product more if it’s accompanied by a positive customer experience. This is a trend that will continue and industry analysts say that spending on customer engagement projects is forecast to increase significantly as its influence and value become increasingly obvious.
Is poor customer service common?
It’s a lot more common than you might think! And, with competition being so fierce it has never been more important to recognise it, challenge it, and resolve it.
A customer is often far more educated, well informed, and knowledgeable about what they want, than the person selling it to them! Gone are the days when a salesperson is required to share all the features and benefits of the product/service. The customer has often done all the research online before even making the enquiry. Therefore the role of sales is no longer to sell! But data collection. In order to understand context, intention, and purpose, in order to offer the right solution, in the right timeframe, for the right quality and investment!
How do you stack up?
Do you survey your customers? Do you invite them to offer feedback on their experience with you and the company? Do you actively pursue comments/suggestions, and actively show that you are responding to the ongoing and changing needs of the consumer?
A recent study (2018) of more than 27,000 consumers, found that 72% voted their most recent experience with the brand 7/10.
7 isn’t so bad is it?
7 is terrible!
1-4 you’ve blown it, they are never likely to return. (Evidence shows, that if a customer has a bad experience with a brand, it can take up to 11 years before they are willing to return and ‘try again)
5-6 it’s not good, but it’s something you can work with. Taking fast remedial action, could well win customers over and give you a ‘2nd chance’ because you have demonstrated you are listening to the needs of the consumer.
9-10 GREAT. You’ve got some advocates, some loyal fans. These are the few, that will not only walk past the compeititon to return to you, but gladly tell their friends, family and connections why they do so.
8 You are on the edge! – Yes 8 and you are already not safe. This customer is happy (for now) but not happy enough to be loyal!
7 DANGER. This is the most dangerous number you could be awarded! Better than a 6 and so you think you’re doing a good job! Not quite an 8, 9, 10 room for improvement, but nothing to worry about!
The complacentcy created when you receive a 7 is enormous, and it’s slowly killing your business! (See Sabotage is rife in UK Business)
What is good customer service?
You may have a fantastic product, but if your customer service is unhelpful, unreliable, or just plain hard to get in touch with, folks will hear about it, and you’ll lose customers over it.
That’s one big reason why investing in customer service is key to long-term business success.
But what does it mean to provide great customer service, and how can you ensure that every customer has a great experience with your company when they reach out for help?
Good customer service means consistently not just meeting but exceeding customers’ expectations.
Great customer service is quick, easy, personalized, and empathetic. Companies that deliver excellent customer service take the time needed to understand the needs of their unique customer base, and provide the help, support, products/services their customers/consumers need/want.
Here are 10 ways to deliver excellent customer service
Know your product/service
Expansive knowledge of your product(s)/Service(s) is an essential customer service skill. Ideally, you should believe in your product(s)/Service(s), be able to discuss features and use cases in an insightful way, and show your customers how the product/service can benefit them — not to mention troubleshoot anything that’s not working right!
Your job is to help your customers get the most out of their investment and feel like they have true value for their money. Make it your goal to learn everything there is to know about your product(s)/Service(s) so you can amaze your customers with timely recommendations for using new features and services.
2. Maintain a positive attitude
Attitude is everything, and a positive attitude goes a long way in providing excellent customer service.
“The right attitude changes negative customer experiences into positive customer experiences”.
Since many customer interactions are no longer face-to-face, your attitude should be reflected in your language and tone of voice as much as (if not more than) the words you use.
It’s easy to misinterpret the tone of written communication, and email or live chat can come across as cold. The brain uses multiple signals to interpret someone else’s emotional tone, including body language and facial expression, many of which are absent online.
If I can’t be face to face, I still find LIVE video THE best method of communication. Followed by the telephone, and the use of voice notes. Don’t be afraid to use emojis to convey warmth and good humour, and personalisation.
3. Creatively problem-solve
Over 80% of customers have churned because they experienced bad customer service. That’s why you must thrive on solving problems for your customers and make it a central part of your support role — and there will always be problems to solve.
Have you heard of the legendary customer service at Zappos?
For example, they once sent a best man free shoes the night before the wedding after his order was sent to the wrong location due to a mistake by the delivery company. Zappos solved a problem and exemplified excellent customer service — they won a customer for life and gave the man a story that he couldn’t wait to share.
Don’t be afraid to wow your customers as you seek to problem-solve for them. You could just fix the issue and be on your way, but by creatively meeting their needs in ways that go above and beyond, you’ll create customers that are committed to you and your product.
4. Respond quickly
66% of people believe that valuing their time is the most important thing in any online customer experience. Resolving customer queries as quickly as possible is a cornerstone of good customer service. Speed should be of the essence — especially for smaller issues that don’t take much time to solve.
That being said — great customer service beats speed every time.
Customers understand that more complex queries take time to resolve. There’s a difference between the time it takes you to respond and the speed at which you resolve their problems. Customers don’t want to languish in a ticket queue, but they’ll spend as much time as it takes to resolve their issue. You should, too.
Get back to your customers as quickly as possible, but don’t be in a rush to get them off the phone or close the ticket without resolving the issue completely.
5. Personalize your service
40% of customers say they want better human service. That means they want to feel like more than just a ticket number. They get angry when they’re not being treated like an individual person, receiving boilerplate responses, or being batted like a tennis ball to different people.
Customers want to interact with a person — not a company. It’s part of the reason why many businesses send gifts to their customers on their birthdays.
- Do you know not only your customers’ names, but also their birthdays?
- How about their interests or hobbies?
- Can you make them laugh?
It’s obviously not possible to do this for everyone, but going off script and giving the personal touch when you can is an important way to show your customers you know them and you care.
6. Help customers help themselves
That said, customers don’t always want to talk to someone to get their problem solved — often, they want to quickly resolve their issues themselves. Among consumers, 81% attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out for help from another. Further research shows that 71% want the ability to solve most customer service issues on their own.
Self-service is a scalable, cost-effective way to make customers happy — that’s the thinking that led us to invest more and more time and energy into our FAQs, which puts help content front and centre so consumers can find answers right where they are without having to either email, or book a call. Then if they’re unable to answer their own question, help from a real person is just a couple of clicks away.
7. Focus support on the customer
Your customers are the most integral part of your business, and they come before products or profit. Treat them like they are the centre of your world — because they are.
According to Kristin Smaby in “Being Human is Good Business,” It’s time to consider an entirely different approach: Building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.
8. Actively listen
Paying attention to customer feedback includes looking back over the data, as well as listening in real-time. Show your customers you hear them when they take the time to speak to you. Listening increases the chances that you’ll hear your customers’ real problems and can effectively solve them, resulting in happier customers.
- Listen to what they have to say without pushing your own agenda.
- Don’t assume that you know what your customer is going to say.
Demonstrate active listening skills; when you’re on the phone or live chat, use phrases like:
“It sounds like … ”
“Do you mean … ?”
“Let me make sure I’ve got this right.”
Make sure you repeat the problem back to them in your own words to show you’ve heard them.
Active listening also means you are mindful of your customer’s unique personality and current emotional state so you can tailor your response to fit the situation. Customer service is not one-size-fits-all.
9. Keep your word
If you promise something, making sure you deliver on it is common-sense customer service. Don’t let your customers down. Keeping your word is about respect and trust.
For example, if you promise an SLA uptime of 99%, make sure you keep to that standard. If you promise to develop a certain feature in your software in a particular time frame, make sure you deliver on that. If you offer a loyalty bonus stick to it
If you ever break your word, like saying you’ll get back to a customer within 24 hours and you don’t, offer something to make up for it. If your customer’s delivery goes awry, offer to replace it and refund their money for their trouble. You might lose some money in the short term, but you’ll gain a loyal customer.
Interestingly, customers do not feel extra grateful when you deliver more than you promised. They do, however, feel angry if you break a promise. It’s still better to under-promise and over-deliver so you can make sure you never break this important social contract.
10. Be proactively helpful
Going the extra mile is one of the most important things you can do to deliver great customer service. This is when you have ticked all the boxes, yet you still want to do more.
Sometimes being helpful means anticipating your customers’ needs before they even have to articulate them. In fact, sometimes customers may ask for one thing without realizing that they really need another. It’s your job to anticipate their needs and provide for them.
When customers feel like you value them — like they’re truly special to you — they’ll keep coming back. This may be linked with the phenomenon of reciprocity in social psychology:
If you do something nice for your customers, they will want to do something in return
like, buy your products!
Sending them a small gift “just because,” or giving them a rare promotional code, will speak to your customers’ egos and demonstrate your genuine appreciation of their business.
What are the differences between customer service and customer experience?
Customer service is just one part of the entire customer journey, while customer experience encompasses all the interactions between your brand and a customer.
Is customer service part of the customer experience? Or is customer experience what happens when someone receives customer service? Are they the same thing?
The terms “customer service” and “customer experience” are often confused or used interchangeably. They’re not the same thing, but they are related.
The difference between customer service and customer experience is that while customer service is one piece of the puzzle — focused on human interaction and directly supporting customers — customer experience is the sum of the entire customer journey with your business.
Let’s take a look at customer service vs. customer experience in more detail.
Customer service is probably a more familiar term — it’s also the more narrowly scoped of the two.
Customer service is the assistance and advice provided to a customer for your product or service as needed.
Customer service requires your customer-facing team to possess a particular set of skills, including patience, product knowledge, and tenacity, so they can provide the answers and assistance a customer needs. It’s the human element in the customer journey and the voice your customer will recognize as representative of your organization.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience, or CX, refers to the broader customer journey across the organization and includes every interaction between the customer and the business.
CX involves all the ways your business interacts with a customer, including and outside of traditional direct, customer-facing service. CX captures how the customer uses your product or service, their interactions with self-service support options, the feeling of walking into your retail store, customer service interactions with the team, and more.
Customer experience includes three main components:
- Customer Service: This includes Customer Support, Customer Success, and self-service support — the points at which your customer interacts with your team.
- Technology: This is the product itself — how it works and the interactivity points.
- Design: This is the brand touchpoint — the marketing, the design, and the feelings your brand creates for your customer.
While those three areas are quite distinct, there are no hard lines between them. All of the pieces combine and work together to make up the customer experience.
Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience
The key difference between customer service and customer experience is that customer experience involves the whole customer journey, including customer service.
Customer service is limited to the interactions a customer has when seeking advice or assistance on a product or service. Understanding the customer experience, on the other hand, can involve analyzing data from non-customer-facing teams who contribute to a customer’s overall experience with a product or service.
Customer service and customer experience are both important pieces to an organization’s success, yet it’s not possible (or necessary) to draw hard lines between them. The line between how customers use a product and how they interact with the people supporting it are more blurred than ever. Customers consider the whole picture when thinking about your offerings, and you should, too.
A great example
In May 2021, I made the decision we needed a new printer. Our previous printer was several years old, and whilst it worked, it was ‘tired’ and not always offering the best print quality. Beyond this, printers have moved on significantly in what they can do, and our print requirements determined it would be more cost-effective to upgrade and continue ‘in-house’ than ‘out-source’ various print requirements outside the scope of our current machine.
I had planned to scour the internet, for all the latest models/reviews recommendations etc. But found Printerland had already done all that for me. Completely independent from any particular brand, they have both an impressive selection and offer a comparison service.
Using this, I was able to determine my requirements, and make recommendations as to which printers met/superseded those requirements, and for what level of investment. By using this free-to-use tool, I was able to make my selection, make payment, and receive the new printer the very next day.
Within the packaging were instructions for use, and the all-important warranty instruction.
Following the warranty guidelines, I visited Xerox website, to input the required data to register the product, only to find the purchase date was already entered, was grossly incorrect (01/01/1901) and unable to be changed! Uncertain how to overcome this, I dialled the number on the screen for their “Helpful customer service department” only to find the number had been discontinued!
Uncertain how to proceed, I called Printerland customer service to enquire how best to proceed. And was immediately offered an alternative number to speak with Xerox. Finally able to speak to the manufacturer, and they advised if there was a ‘glitch’ with the website, I should continue to complete the form, but also email in proof of purchase, that they would then amend the purchase date.
Some months passed, before the printer offered an ink low warning, and time to purchase new toners. – Naturally, I returned to Printerland, as not only had their service been exceptional, but were most cost effective also.
On receiving the toners, across the receipt, was a promotional offer:
“By purchasing original toners within this qualifying period, you are able to extend the products warranty. Click here to extend your warranty”
Fabulous. Not only did I have new toners, but also able to double the length of the manufacturers warranty – Or so I thought!
Visiting the website to enter the details, the website declared “Unable to extend the warranty, as original warranty already expired – (01/01/1902)”
Oh no. Despite having spoken to Xerox at the time of purchase, and being assured they would update the system, this had not been done, and showing my warranty expired 5 years before the company was even formed! Thankfully, the advice given by Printerland was to take screenshots of the website with the ‘glitch’ and I was able to share this with them, for them to acknowledge the problem and agree to extend the warranty.
3 months later, and the printer develops a power failure fault! (These things can happen, I get that)
But thankfully, we have that extended warranty, right?
Mmmmm, on contacting Xerox (using the phone number given to me by Printerland, as the one on their own website is still wrong) I’m greeted with: Your warranty has expired, there is nothing more we can do!
Despite sending emails, screenshots, and recorded conversations to the contrary, the ‘customer services representative‘ has a script. And my problem falls outside of the remit of their script. So round and round we go, not making any progress!
An email from Matthew at Printerland…
“We notice you currently own a Xerox ***** and haven’t purchased toners recently. We currently have a *% discount on toners, and wondered if your ready for a top up?”
What a great email. Not too pushy or salesy. But saying we know you own the machine, and that it has consumables. We’ve got an offer on those right now, is this something you may wish to benefit from?
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at life) this email landed as I was still on the phone playing merry-go-round with the Xerox ‘Custoemr Services Rep’ and getting nowhere fast. And so, my reply to ‘Matthew’ wasn’t as professional or polite as it perhaps should have been:
“Thanks, Matthew. However, as the printer has been inoperative for the last 3 weeks, and I’m struggling to get Xerox to honour the warranty they offered. I’m not ready to spend any more money on toner I can’t use”
What happened next was a miracle
Moments later, my office phone rang:
“Mr Allen, it’s Matthew from Printerland. I understand your having a problem with your printer?“
OMG – My email hadn’t just landed, but Matthew (busy trying to sell me some ink) was now on the phone enquiring what the problem was and as to how he could help.
I quickly recited the above, and he advised he would contact Xerox on my behalf and see how best to resolve this.
Within the hour, he called back, advising a Xerox engineer would attend to assess the machine the next working day. And that if there were any further hold ups, to call him back.
Said engineer arrived, and spent over 2 hours uploading software updates, and testing parts, before determining it requires both a new power unit and motherboard. However, “As this is a courtesy visit, outside of warranty, these parts are billable, and not that cheap!” He shared that to purchase the parts, have a xerox engineer come back, strip the machine down to fit them, then rebuild and test is likely to cost several hundred pounds, and therefore ‘might be the more cost-effective to buy a new machine‘. Shocked 😮, as the printer is only 15 months old, and hasn’t yet finished its 1 set of toners.
However, Matthew called back to see if the engineer had been.
Yes, but it’s going to be more expensive to repair than replace. I replied.
“Leave it with me“. And off he went again.
An hour later, having escalated this to the highest levels within both Printerland and Xerox he assures me the problem will be resolved without charge within the next 24 hours!
My point for sharing this in quite so much detail is:
It wasn’t a Printerland problem! I may have bought the unit from them (15 months ago) but the warranty is issued (and should be serviced) by the manufacturer. And yet the moment, Matthew heard I was having a problem, he has gone above and beyond in order to assist me in resolving this.
He’s lived up to the Printerland promise of Exceptional Customer Service
Now that is an exceptional customer experience.
You can find a wide range of printers and consumables on the Printerland website: www.printerland.co.uk where I can guarantee you’ll get some exceptional customer service.