How to improve your customer service

The customer is always right.

Why is that phrase so well known? It may sound obvious, but customers are the ones who give your business money. Without them, you don’t have a business. Customers should be at the heart of everything you and your team do, but away from the front line, in an office, managing employees…it’s possible to forget that.

Improving customer service should be a key target for every single manager in every business. The better your customer service, the more likely they are to recommend and stay with you. That much is clear, but the value goes beyond that - good customer service may actually prompt customers to spend more with you, as is the case for 62% of B2B customers, and 52% of B2C ones. This means even companies who don’t rely on referrals or repeat business stand to gain from offering better customer service.

So how do you go about improving your company’s customer service? There are so many aspects, and therefore so many options for improvement, that we’ve opted for a long list of quick ideas—take whichever suit your business and set up a schedule for implementing them.

Review your touchpoints

Make sure that every way customers could interact with your business is considered. From the chat function on your site, to staff they’ll only interact with if they’re collecting an item, be sure you are aware of where your customer service is happening.

Be available

Offer them more, and more convenient, ways to contact you. Bear in mind that millennials are a growing consumer demographic - they already account for 28% of daily consumer spending in the US, and that’s forecast to rise to 35% in the next 12 years. They’re a group that are used to instant communication and a myriad ways to connect via social media and other online platforms. Respond to queries faster and if relevant find ways to offer support during more of the day.

Get personal

Learn people’s names in interactions and use them regularly. Find out things about customers and relate to them. Many people enjoy the experience of social interaction during transactions, so be open to conversation.

Thank customers

Just a few appreciative words and a smile can make all the difference. Thanking people makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship, which with customers can be invaluable.

Follow up

Check up to see how purchases have gone, or whether issues have been resolved. Is their product functioning? Are they happy with it? Not only does the contact have the potential to address complaints before they’re aired, but reminding them of your existence can be beneficial to recognition and sales too. The good news is that this is an easy process to automate via email. 

Improve your layout

Whether it’s your site or your store, make it simpler for your customers to do what they came to do. What can you make possible with fewer clicks or fewer queues?

Walk through your customer’s experience

This can be a great way to find areas that need improving. Go through the process of doing business with your company and review the experience. If you don't think your own eyes are fresh enough to spot areas that need work, why not invite a mystery shopper or arrange for a complete stranger to visit your site or place of work and give honest feedback.

Make sure your staff are engaged

No matter how simple and delightful a process is, having a moody employee serve you can ruin it. Keep your staff happy to keep your customers happy. Here are some easy ways to improve employee engagement in your small business.

Take feedback on board

Listen to customers. Welcome praise and complaints. Consider all feedback as an opportunity. Look for trends in the data to identify strengths and weaknesses, then work on both. You should also do this with employees, especially when they are often on the front line of dealing with customers and will know the most common customer service issues.

Reward customers

Who doesn’t enjoy being rewarded? Give them a treat for their loyalty or ‘just because’. Offer them something for free, no strings attached. Online businesses do this to great effect in the hope of getting further transactions, but even if you don’t, it’ll leave a positive impression. Here are some more guidelines for knowing when to give away free products in your small business.

Research the competition

Stuck for ideas? See what similar companies are doing. Visit their sites and stores and pick up some inspiration there for how you can match and exceed their offering. Look at what they're doing online. Do they have a newsletter? How active are their social media channels? What are their customers saying about them on Google or other review sites. Take the feedback and apply it to your own business.

Fit your brand

With whatever you implement, align your customer service efforts with your brand. Are you a carefree, funny company? End support emails with a joke or brighten up your store’s décor. If you’re in more serious business, make sure your tone is professional, but stay empathetic too.

Set objectives

Every idea here can be measured in some way. Set targets for your own efforts and those of your employees. Track customer satisfaction and aim to improve it. Reward those employees who best serve your customers and the positive cycle will repeat itself!

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.