When you break it down, customer support is a business’ ability to meet their customers’ needs. However, this definition doesn’t take into account the transactional way customer support is handled, and it’s that which improves customer loyalty.
If a customer continues to shop with a particular company despite alternatives offering different services, cheaper products, or different locations, that’s customer loyalty.
In essence, robust customer support means customer satisfaction. And customer satisfaction leads to customer loyalty. It’s this loyalty that can support business despite external circumstances.
A business can have all the customer support elements, but if their customers are not satisfied in the manner this support is conducted, they will not return.
In today’s cluttered and competitive marketplace, excellent customer support is essential as loyalty is so crucial to the bottom line. It saves money, as acquiring a new customer is more expensive than serving an existing one, and most businesses can’t survive a serious dose of bad press. If you’re not doing things the right way, then people will talk about it.
Many small businesses rely on customer loyalty to survive. For example, small retailers cannot compete in terms of price or selection compared to massive brands; they may not even sell products online. But, what they can do is forge personal and lasting connections with customers, and it’s this that can help grow the business and boost profits.
It’s evident then; customer loyalty is essential for most, if not all, small-medium businesses. And, customer support is the most significant way to earn trust.
With all of that being said, how do you, as a business owner, introduce processes and initiatives to streamline your customer support in order to win over your customers?
Look no further; here are eight different ways to streamline your customer support.
1. Improve your communication channels
In years gone by, your service or help desk handled three communication lines – phone, email, and in-person. Now, with social media and even tech like IP telephony, there are more ways than ever for someone to raise an issue. While your business phone number is still essential, having the ability to respond and react to requests via things like social media and web forms is equally vital.
There is a vast slate of different software you may have to introduce. That means things like live chat, self-service portals, SMS software, social media management tools, and more (depending on your clientele). You may also need different types of workforce technologies to help your support team engage with one another as well.
Source: Finances online
2. Set customer service standards
Before you implement any new technology, your employees and customers need to have specific standards. Your customers need to know what you’ll do for them, and your service team needs to know what is expected of them. Just telling them isn’t enough, you need to define the “whats” and “hows” in a standardized document.
Set regular catch-ups with your service team to get feedback on ways to improve. This is made more difficult by our forced remote-working schedule, but still, set up a regular audio conference call with your team to catch up, and share experiences.
3. Train your team
Staff who deal directly with customers have to do more than just smile and wave to deliver excellent customer support. Being enthusiastic and friendly is only a part of what makes excellent support. Find ways to train your team to be even better than the best UK call centre. Active customer support training needs to be reinforced and refreshed regularly.
4. Act fast
Problems equal opportunity. If you exceed your customer’s expectations and act fast, you’ll win them over. Every issue can be spun into a customer loyalty winning campaign; the onus is on you to make it happen. Know how to handle each expected complaint, as well as being prepared to expect the unexpected.
With the right training and tools, your team should be able to handle a complaint in an instant, and turn an unhappy customer into one that comes back again and again.
5. Create self-help guides and portals
On your website, you should dedicate a space for customer-knowledge. While this isn’t directly a profit-driven endeavor, it shows your customers that you’ve thought about their wants and needs, and chosen to offer free support and advice.
Create weekly content that exists specifically for customer knowledge, and group this all together in a single location, along with an FAQ page. Information can come through blogs, newsletters, podcasts, webinars, and video explainers. Ensure customers receive links to these things via emails and social media, and train your support staff to find the content.
6. Introduce customer loyalty initiatives
A customer loyalty program can not only serve existing customers but also attract new ones. They aren’t only about offering discounts. They utilize the purchase history and customer-provided data to give customers timely and relevant offers, simultaneously improving the overall customer experience.
Businesses can also expand their customer base and offer even more compelling rewards by partnering with related companies. The most basic type of loyalty program offers customers better rewards, the more they spend or visit. And creating your own is easy:
- Create a points system
- Offer tiered rewards
- Partner with another company to better the rewards
- Offer something unique
- Create a name for your program
7. Make it easy for customers to give feedback.
Despite your proactivity, you’ll never be able to get ahead of every customer gripe. To ensure you learn about the experiences – good or bad – a customer has with your business, make sure it’s easy for them to provide feedback.
That might mean a phone survey after a service call, an email survey sent to those who’ve had issues in the past, or a form on your website. However you do it, creating a way for customers to give you feedback is the only way you’ll ever know how to improve.
Through AI, you can even condition your CRM to identify any negative words or phrases left in emails or social comments, so you’re instantly aware of any unsatisfactory service. This sort of traceability makes it easy for your support team to stay on top.
It’s important not to forget feedback’s importance to customer satisfaction. If you don’t know where your strengths and weaknesses lie or why sales have slowed, then try to find out through customer feedback.
8. Offer a fair refund policy
Despite your best efforts, the customer still isn’t happy and wants their money back.
It’s usually a good idea to offer a money-back guarantee from the off, which helps build consumer confidence. It also makes the purchasing process come off as less risky, so people are more inclined to invest. Whether you’re selling a multi-tenant cloud service or CRM software, if you sell great products, in an ideal world, you’d never have to use this policy.
But, we do not live in an ideal world, so this process must be as pain-free and comfortable as possible when it comes to refunds.
First off, leave out all the legal jargon, which immediately turns most people off. Use clear and concise bulleted lists to showcase the refund eligibility requirements. Then, state any deadlines or other things your customers need to keep in mind.
You should have the confusing legal jargon on your Ts & Cs page and have a separate landing page or FAQ section where the primary refund process is defined.
You also need to keep this money-back guarantee flexible, as well as sympathetic. A 30-day guarantee is good, but if you’re confident enough, why not extend it to 60 days? Or even a 90-day guarantee? If you’re offering a no questions asked type refund policy, then people will both be confident in their purchase and more confident in the product itself. Whatever helps you meet or exceed what your competitors offer in terms of refunds is always a good idea.
Customer support isn’t an art or even a science. It evolves with shifting technological ideas, customer requirements, and external circumstances. How you choose to support your customers is up to you, but it’s worth noting that how you do this is the most significant way to build customer loyalty.
Loyalty is never given; it’s earned. And you earn it by ensuring whatever your customers want is what they get. Implement the eight steps outlined above to give yourself the best chance of meeting their expectations.