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Five Ways to Set Your Customer Service Ahead of the Competition

  
  
  
  

describe the imageIn 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.

Be Fast

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.

Eliminate Surprises

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.

Take Ownership

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

Comments

I would love the thought of never having to listen to an automated prompt again! Having a live person answer the phone on the first ring is a wonderful thing!!
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:15 PM by Lisa
I think giving a customer a prompt, live response is the best method. No one likes an automated email stating you will receive a response in 24-48 hours. That's really frustrating.
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:26 PM by Emily
Having the ability to provide fast customer service is an excellent feature of your business. Fast customer service cuts down on customer irritation and anger. Many times, customers are prompted to go through an automated prompt. By the time the customer finally gets a live representative on the line, they are so frustrated that they take their anger out on the representative. By providing fast customer service, you are cutting out the frustration and just providing outstanding customer care!
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:41 PM by Jenny
Answering the phone on the first ring is such a great concept! That makes you feel like the CSR is just waiting for your call!
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 2:16 PM by Mikey
Not every customer enquiry requires speaking to a live person for a solution. Most customers, depending on the nature of the problem, may be able to resolve certain issues with a well-designed customer self-service portal. Make sure customers are aware of other service options including the company website.
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 2:35 PM by Johnny Post
It is fantastic to see that there are still companies out there that are focusing on just how important it is to offer quality customer service! These are all fantastic ways to engage and retain customers.
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 2:48 PM by Melissa
Being quick to offer support and help via a real person in this automated day and age is less common and greatly appriciated. The less prompts your customer has to click through the better!
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 3:10 PM by Brittni
Great tips! The idea of someone taking ownership of a request or concern and staying with the customer until a resolution is determined is a key factor in providing excellent customer service.
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 3:55 PM by Vironica
I always try to respond to customers within a 15 minute time frame. They should always feel that their issue is top priority!
Posted @ Thursday, October 06, 2011 8:55 PM by kristy
These are great steps for your customer service department to standout and get ahead of the competition!
Posted @ Friday, October 07, 2011 6:29 AM by JW
Thanks for the tips! Great article. Putting the customer's needs above all else will definitely make all the difference.
Posted @ Friday, October 07, 2011 8:50 AM by Bryan
The best advice I know regarding handling customer email is to respond within 10 minutes! Even if you do not have an immediate answer, the customer will appreciate knowing their email was received and it is being taken care of.
Posted @ Friday, October 07, 2011 12:55 PM by Stacy
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