In a highly competitive age, one of the best advantages you can provide your company to set it apart from the rest is outstanding customer service. This feature can cost your business very little in overhead, but reap very real returns on your initial investment. We have five ways to help you set your customer service ahead of the competition.
Customers get really tired of waiting around for phone calls and emails to be returned. Delight your customers by responding to their needs and questions as quickly as possible.
There’s a reason LL Bean and recently even Citibank Cards have their CSRs pick up after the first ring – without forcing the customer to go through a single automated prompt.
If you are unable to get to a customer's request right away, send automatic email responses or put a message on your voice mail to let your customer know when they can expect to hear back from you. Then honor the time frame you give above all else.
Anticipate Customer Needs
Good customer service accurately identifies and meets customer needs, but if you want to stand out from the crowd, anticipate those needs before they are even vocalized. This is not an easy technique to master, but if you take the time to get to know your customers and really listen to what they are saying, you will be better equipped to discover what their future needs might be.
Put Customers First
When you put your customer first – ahead of profit, convenience or efficiency – those other factors will typically follow. Customers want to know you have their best interests at heart, whether it is to alert them of an upcoming sale on their favorite products, or a service that would make their usual routine a bit easier and more convenient.
When your customers know you are putting them first, they will automatically cultivate a loyalty to your business that can put you ahead of your competition.
Most customers do not like surprises, especially since most of the surprises they might be privy to are rarely of the positive kind. If an order will be delayed or a price is about to go up, let your customer know about it as soon as you can. If you realize a mistake or company error is going to affect your customer in some way, alert them to the problem, before they have to alert you.
Even the best companies will disappoint a customer from time to time, but it is how you handle that disappointment that will set you apart from your competition. When you take ownership of a problem and see it through to a resolution, you build your customer's confidence that you can handle any difficult situation. The next time a problem arises, your customer is more likely to bring it to your attention quickly and calmly, knowing that you will find a solution for them.
Your customer service is one of the most effective ways to beat out your competition and stand apart from the rest of your industry. When your company develops a reputation for outstanding customer service, you can rest assured new clients will come looking for you in the future.
- Meredith Estep