Marine businesses like shipyards, dealers, and shippers need to ensure their customers get the best possible service if they want to thrive. Better customer service means you’ll have more loyal customers, a better reputation so you can earn more customers, and smoother operations due to your good customer relationships.
But what steps can marine businesses take to make it happen?
How to Improve Customer Service
These are some of the best strategies for improving customer service in a marine business:
- Invest in marine business insurance. First, make sure you’ve invested in marine business insurance. Marine business insurance will financially protect you from a number of different threats. It can provide aid for employee injuries, general liability, property damage, and more. There are many different types of coverage available, from workers’ compensation (which is likely required by law in your state), and hull and machinery insurance, which will cover damage sustained by one of your vessels. When your company is better insured and better financially protected, you’ll be able to give much more attention to your customers.
- Choose the right CRM. Next, choose the right customer relationship management (CRM) platform. There are many CRMs that can help you improve your customer documentation and management practices. These include incredibly robust platforms that might exist outside your target budget, as well as budget-friendly platforms that may not give you everything you need. Do your research, take advantage of free trials, and select a platform that gives you all the functionality you want. Once you’ve installed it, use it consistently; it won’t do you much good if you’re not consistently entering information for each of your customers.
- Get to know your customers personally. Your customers are more than just data points, and they’re more than mere entries in your CRM. Take the time to get to know all your customers personally, if you can. If you can’t, make sure at least one of your employees gets to know them personally. When customers feel recognized and appreciated, they’ll be much more likely to return to your business in the future. Ask them their name, their interests, and why they’ve chosen your business in the first place. You’ll be able to provide them with better recommendations, and you’ll start a valuable relationship that could last for years to come.
- Train all your employees. You might have a great sense for customer service, but are you sure that your employees have the same instincts? Take the time to train all your employees on the customer service protocols you want to execute—especially the new ones. Set clear expectations for the level of service you’re going to provide, and consider putting them through simulated training sessions to see how they react to different situations they may encounter in “real” business operations. The more time you invest in your employees, the better they’ll be able to serve your underlying goals.
- Break down silos. Too many marine businesses suffer from corporate silos—even the small ones. The idea here is that each department operates independently, and has its own goals and internal culture. For example, you might have a sales team, a customer service team, and an accounting team, each of which avoids talking to the others unless necessary. If you want better customer service, all your internal departments (and therefore employees) need to be collaborating and working together to solve the same problems. That means everyone in your organization is, to an extent, a customer service agent.
- Set specific goals. Improving “customer service” as a general concept is tricky. But it’s much easier when you have a clear vision for what customer service means. Set specific goals for your team and your organization; for example, do you want to reduce customer churn by a specific amount in the next six months?
- Ask for feedback. Finally, ask for feedback. Nobody can tell you how your customer service program is going better than your actual customers. Use surveys, social media analysis, and straightforward conversations to get a feel for how your customers feel about your efforts—and get ideas for what you can do better in the future.
The Journey to Improvement
Not all marine businesses can move quickly when it comes to a change of company culture or overall strategy. You might be dealing with a slow season, limited resources, or a relatively small team. But whatever you’re facing, every path to improving customer service begins with a single step. Focus on one or two improvements you can make right now, and try to make them. Then build upon those changes as you see fit, and as you gain more experience in the customer service field.