Seven best practices of customer service

Customers are the driving force of every company and in fact, in a 2016 Gartner survey for chief executive officers and other senior executives, business leaders ranked customer service and satisfaction as their second most important priority after growth. Today customers judge a company not just by its product or service, but also by the competence, behavior and attitude of its staff. Consistently poor customer service can easily prompt customers to abandon a brand whose product they may have otherwise appreciated.

Which brings us to an important question: what can you do to improve your customer service if you suspect you have room for improvement or wish to excel in this area, so as to differentiate yourself from competitors?

Here are seven tips to get you started:

1. Keep Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) motivated
Customer service representatives need to feel incentivised and motivated to do their best. Revisit your hiring and employee retention practices, and conduct employee satisfaction surveys to get to the root of issues holding back performance.

2. Give customers choice
Do some customers prefer phone conversations when receiving support? Are many comfortable with live chat? Allow them to contact you or be contacted via their preferred channel. Two or three options will suffice, but pay attention not to introduce too many as you may needlessly complicate your customer service operations.

3. Offer self-service
Customers demand seamless interactions with CSRs and dislike waiting around for answers. The option of ‘self-service’ minimizes interaction friction and improves brand experience.

4. Set customer service standards (if you haven’t already)
Consider these criteria: concise and specific standards; customer-focused; measurable; written into CSRs’ job descriptions; and created in collaboration with employees. Your customer service strategies should revolve around these points.

5. Treat customer interactions as a learning opportunity
Useful insights about evolving customer needs and expectations may be gained when your CSRs have to deal with unreasonable customers. This in itself acts as a learning opportunity if they are careful to listen to both criticism and praise.

6. Share educational resources with customers
Modern consumers want to be empowered with useful information which allows them to make informed decisions and, in turn, share what they have learned with others, so supplying them with this information is a step in the right direction.

7. Measure and improve
A customer service management platform like Zendesk offering analytical support can give you important insights into customer behaviours and areas of improvement. With this data, you will be in a better position to make necessary changes and adapt quickly to customer requirements.

Bonus tip:  Benchmark against the best. Can you get ideas from brands who are known to deliver stellar customer service? Even if they are not in your industry, see if you can employ some of their strategies to enhance your customer service process and work towards delivering superior value to your customers.

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