It’s easy to confuse customer service with customer experience but there are some fundamental differences. Michelle Joose is CEO of Hotline IT explains what you need to know.
Many businesses will put a lot of effort into securing new customers. But unfortunately, often the customer will find that their experience does not live up to the original promise. The reality is that customers will only continue to use your services and/or products if what’s on offer is of value to them. Repeat custom is the lifeblood of small and medium-sized businesses.
Keep in mind the following tips to not just secure new customers, but keep them coming back, and grow loyalty and develop authentic, long-term customer relationships in the process.
Everyone is in customer service
In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as a customer service department. From the boardroom to the front counter, customer service is the responsibility of everyone in your organisation. From the member of staff who initially answers the phone or email, to your accounts department, marketing, distribution and senior management, every member of your team needs good customer service skills.
Owning problems, and moving on
This idea of a customer’s ‘value’ comes in several forms. In one respect, it’s their experience. Each of their interactions with your business should be a great experience for them. Granted, we’re all only human, and mistakes will happen. Some problems cannot be avoided. But how you deal with the issue can ultimately make the difference between business success and failure. A customer might become frustrated given a mistake happening, for example, but your acknowledging it and being proactive in apologising, then working tirelessly to rectify the issue, will see – in most cases – you still retaining them as a customer.
Three simple steps to good customer experience
In my experience, there are three simple steps to ensure your customers have a great experience.
Set their expectations. Let them know when they can expect to receive their order, or when you will call them back. Make sure they understand your delivery and service terms. This is the first way to allow them to know what success looks like. Without setting their expectations, you may end up on a different wavelength and the customer may be left disappointed. You also have the chance to go beyond their expectations and deliver earlier and better than expected.
Show empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Customers call you because they have a question needing an answer or a problem to be solved. They may feel frustrated and even stressed. They want you to listen to their problem and give you an opportunity to fix it. You’ll have had tough experiences before and showing that you understand where they’re coming from can have a huge impact. Acknowledgement and reassurance go a long way to making a customer a happy customer.
Ask questions. You will save yourself and the customer time if you ask the right questions, so that you can resolve the problem quicker. That means listening when they speak and figuring out what they need as quickly and constructively as you can. You can solve their problems and improve your bottom line through doing something as simple as engaging with the customer and understanding where they’re coming from.
At the end of the day, the ‘customer experience’ lives hand-in-hand with good customer service. You can’t have a good experience if the service was bad – and good service counts for little if the overall experience falls flat. The customer is everything. Get on their side and they’ll be on yours for good.