What would you say makes your business notable enough to stay in the hearts and minds of your customers? Would it be the perfect product or service that you provide? The immaculate website? The curious content you use to educate your audience? The engaging social media presence? Or perhaps your innovative edge? Most businesses agree that all of the above is vital for any brand to stay relevant in any market today, due to the staggering level of ever-growing competition. Still, one piece of this proverbial puzzle is oftentimes overlooked, and yet so pivotal in enabling brands to stand the test of time: the quality of your customer service.
Since we live in the digital age, when most, if not all of our interactions are often based in the virtual world, the level of emotion, intimacy, and compassion you’re able to express through all your brand channels is a growing challenge. Your customer service representatives are not only your first line of defense and your most valued brand ambassadors, but also the most relevant people to give a human voice to your brand. Here are a few strategies you can use in 2019 to invest in boosting your service excellence.
Take a customer-centric approach
For too long, businesses have touted their uniqueness as the central topic of any conversation. You’d see flashy ads on TV, billboards that emphasize how that particular business is amazing, and even digital presentations that boast the brand itself. Sure, bringing out your finest business features is a part of the process, but it is no longer the focal point of delivering outstanding customer service. This mindset can lead to your agents being too brand-focused to actually master the art of listening to your customers – they’ll be too busy coming up with ways to respond.
In 2019, customers want to know that they are at the heart of your brand purpose. Make sure that your messaging, training policies, your digital presence, and your customer service representatives’ workshops all focus on language and approaches that are customer-centric. Help them help your customers, provide quick and polite responses, handle criticism with grace, and manage customer expectations properly.
Reinforce with marketing materials
Unlike those brand-centric attitudes of yore, certain marketing strategies have stood the test of time and are now considered timeless. Enter: your printed handouts, freebies, and promotional materials that help your audience connect with your brand through value. Whenever you’re going to a networking event or have the chance to meet your customers, have your business cards ready to provide them with a simple, memorable way to get in touch with you personally. Give them a branded flash drive or a brochure while you’re at it to give them more information on your services and get them interested.
Make sure all of your employees have access to such materials they can hand out to anyone interested. You never know when an opportunity may present itself to impress a potential customer or a potential partner! Such a simple gesture can make all the difference in helping your customers remember you and even inspire word-of-mouth marketing long after the event is over.
Personalized gestures matter
Ideally, you’d give out personalized flash drives the way Coca Cola personalized their bottles to feature the names of those who buy them. However, this is not always an option you can provide on the spot, but you can certainly implement this mindset across your communication channels to establish a stronger emotional connection to your audience anytime, anywhere.
In addition to always using the name of your customers when you talk to them, you should always go the extra mile in everyday communication, even when they least expect it. Some might say, especially then, to help you exceed their expectations. For example, preparing personalized loyalty programs and personalized discounts is a viable option. Use regular surveys through different channels to ask for feedback, and let them know when you implement their suggested changes – they’ll feel valued and heard, and you’ll earn a life-long customer thanks to that single gesture.
Handle those negative reviews like a pro
Who knew that a negative review actually means a positive opportunity for improving your service, winning over a customer, and perhaps even dozens of others who come across your exchange? Well, chances are that a negative comment by a customer is often rooted in reality, and it can give your future customers a chance to perceive you as human. This is your opportunity to apologize, make amends, offer a way to resolve an issue, all publicly, so that your audience gets a glimpse of how you handle that worst-case scenario.
First of all, you cannot afford to ignore a negative review. Train your customer service representatives to recognize them as opportunities to advance your brand and give them the tools to handle such conversations in the spirit of the brand. While you can’t win them all, don’t be a sore loser. Make those reviews work for you.
So much goes into building and sustaining any brand’s image, but the quality of your customer service often trumps them all. Use these tips to build a truly excellent service system for your audience, and you’ll manage to increase their loyalty and protect your reputation for years to come.