How to Improve Your Customer Service Strategy

improve-customer-service-strategyRecently, I ordered a few items at our local big box hardware store online to pick-up in store. Sometimes, when I need something very specific, I do this to make sure it’s not out of stock when I get there. It’s a nice feature except for one thing: when I get there, I have to wait forever for customer service help.

So, this most recent time while I’m waiting, the line behind quickly builds up. The man two people behind me is quick to pipe up “The problem with this generation is that they have no hustle. In my day, when customers lined up, we moved.” Even though the young man behind the counter can clearly hear us, the whole line begins to gossip about how slow he is.

I’m hard pressed to imagine this makes him move more quickly.

Now, while I do think they should have added some additional staff to take care of us, I didn’t fault the young man in particular. He was kind and did his job – some things just go slowly. Since I didn’t know if that’s what he was dealing with, I held my judgment.

It was clear my fellow customers did not.

So how do you optimize your customer service experience so people can see just how much you really value them? Let’s look at a recent interaction I had with a company who had not been able to fulfill my order after I’d already paid.

The company sent me an email, notified me of the issue which I hadn’t previously been aware of, told me how they were going to fix it, then thanked me for my continued business. And that, in a nutshell, is how you should manage your customer service plan.

1. Acknowledge them When customers approach you, whether in person or online, it’s important to acknowledge their presence. In person, a simple “I’ll be right with you” can do wonders to ease their nerves. Online an automated message is the least that you can do to let them know that you’ve received their message. Even better, take the time to write a personalized email letting them know you’re on their project. Without these simple gestures, customer can very quickly become agitated and take their business elsewhere. In the case of this company, they reached out to me before I even realized there was an issue with the order. That’s being on top of your customer service.
2. Be transparent If things are going to take a bit longer than normal, let your customers know. Something as simple as letting them know your systems are running a bit slow but you’re doing everything you can to make their experience a positive one can….make their experience a more positive one. Let them know what to expect and they’re less likely to complain. You may even want to apologize in certain situations. If this is something you feel needs to be done in a particular situation, make sure you know how to apologize correctly.
3. Inform them and compensate as necessary The company mentioned above had oversold a product I’d bought. They informed me that they still intended to send me the notecards I’d ordered…just not in the design I’d ordered. Without me even complaining, they also offered me a credit to their company for the amount of the product I’d ordered. They acknowledged me, they were transparent, they told me how they were going to fix my issue and they did not hesitate to compensate me for my inconvenience. You may choose to compensate customers only when they voice a complaint – that’s each business’ decision to make on their own – but being willing to comp a bad experience can save you quite a bit of bad press. It may even gain you a new customer or two.
4. Thank them Then, of course, they thanked me for my time and patience. How could I possibly get upset? Saying thank you to anyone who is a patron of your business is expected. Yet, I’m constantly surprised how often I thank a customer service representative for their help and they do not thank me for my business in return. Your entire team should know to thank each and every person that interacts politely with your brand.

Want to take it to the next level? Send your most valued customers a handwritten note.

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