Customers around the world cite customer service as one of the most important aspects of whether or not they choose to engage with a company.
How important, exactly?
According to Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Global State of Customer Service report, “90 percent of respondents indicated that customer service is important to their choice of and loyalty to a brand.”
10 tips to exceed customer service expectations
So, how can you not only meet your customers’ expectations for customer service, but exceed them? A report by Bain & Company states that, “...a five percent increase in customer retention produces more than a 25 percent increase in profit.”
This is how you can go above and beyond to ensure your customers are not only happy, but will actually refer your business to others.
1. Customers want to feel heard.
Most customers don’t contact customer support with the intention of complaining; they have a problem that they’re upset about, and they just want you to hear them out.
This means that you’re actively listening to their problem, leveling with them/being empathetic, and not reading off any type of script that’s not going to resolve the issue at hand and likely make the customer more upset. Be human!
One way to make customers feel heard is to provide them with opportunities to air out complaints. Business texting, live chat, email, social media, or phone are great communication tools to let customers reach out to your company and feel heard.
2. Customers want you to not be self-serving.
In general, customers are perfectly aware that companies don’t love giving discounts, credits, exchanges without receipts, etc. But, your customer service approach shouldn’t only be about saving costs, time, collecting more info, etc. It should be about finding common ground.
How can you meet your client's need to resolve an issue that serves their best interest but without wreaking havoc on your business? To start, put yourselves in their shoes.
3. Customers want you to do what’s best for them.
Doing what’s best for your customer doesn’t mean that the customer is always right. It means that your customer support team is prioritizing giving this customer the best outcome for them, even if that outcome may not be the best option for you at the time (meaning that it won’t maximize your revenue/profit margin).
Long-term, however, it’s much better to build that trust and keep your customers happy, which will fix the profit-margin problem on its own.
4. Customers don’t want to be given the run-around.
We’ve all been there—being passed through dozens of customer support agents, transferred multiple times, and having to tell the story more times than you should, all to get to a machine or an agent who is “unavailable”.
When customers get in touch, the person on the other end should have the knowledge about the company, the product, and even the customer in order to help this person right away.
Keep notes on file, too (such as support tickets), so that your agents can see what the result was or where you last left off with a customer. You can keep track of this in a CRM system to ensure your agents are not only all on the same page, but that your customers aren’t being given the run-around.
5. Customers want a preferred communication channel.
Speaking of the run-around, one of the best ways to avoid this issue in the first place is to offer your customers a preferred communication channel. Generally, customers associate good customer service with the ease and speed of being able to get in touch with the customer service team.
So, whatever your preferred communication channel is, own it and make it as efficient as possible. For instance, if text is your preferred channel of communication (because of how easy it is), even picture messages/screenshot of the problem they need help with should suffice!
6. Customers want you to set reasonable expectations.
Even with a preferred communication channel, COVID-19 has, of course, caused some slow-downs in operations, and most people are aware of this and understanding.
But, the best thing you can do to mitigate this is to simply set reasonable expectations for your customers from the get-go so they can manage their own expectations. This means letting them know how long it will take you to get back to them and/or resolve their issues (which should be outlined in your SLA).
7. Customers want you to anticipate their needs.
Before a customer even gets on the line with you—whether that line is online, on the phone, or via SMS—they’re expecting you to be the expert. Therefore, you should already have a pretty good idea of what your customers need/want, starting the conversation with a proactive approach to solving their problem as soon as possible even before they get to the details.
To help with this, you can have a customer support guide for your team to follow (no, not a script!).
8. Customers want you to offer action-oriented solutions; not excuse-oriented.
Not every problem has an automatic solution, especially if your company is experiencing this customer service request for the first time. No matter what, though, customers expect you to offer solutions that are action-oriented, and not excuse-oriented.
Essentially, instead of telling them all the reasons you can’t solve their specific problem, offer up actionable solutions that will still keep them satisfied. And, remember, you should beat them to the punch—be the first to offer something, instead of waiting for them to argue their way to a solution you likely can’t offer.
9. Customers don’t always want the end to justify the means.
If you take too long to solve one of those easier customer service issues because your customer has wasted time getting connected to someone, then talking to multiple agents, and then waiting for their problem to be resolved, the fact that it was resolved doesn’t make all that much of a difference in the end.
Why? Well, now your customer is feeling like all the effort they’ve put in in order to get any resolution wasn’t really worth the time and energy. Even if you think, “But, hey, we solved it!” By then, the end won't have justified the means. You may think they have gotten what they wanted, but now they’ve left even more frustrated than when they first reached out.
This is another reason to make certain common issues really easy to solve. For instance, how on Amazon customers can easily facilitate their own returns without having to contact anyone to get it done.
10. Customers want a safe space to share their feedback.
Whatever the result of the interaction is, customer service expectations also apply to after-the-fact; i.e., your customers want a place where they can share their feedback safely. Encourage them to fill out a survey, follow-up with a quality rating of their customer service experience (with a free gift-card if you can swing it), and/or give them the space to write a review as they see fit.
Of course, no matter what the feedback is, you shouldn’t ignore it; use it as a learning experience so you can continuously improve on those customer service expectations you’re setting.
The bottom line
Customer service is a huge part of the overall experience that customers have with your company. By understanding what their expectations are, you can be one step ahead, ensuring that you’ll keep your customers happy and coming back for more —and, even better, referring your business to others.
- Your customer support team should be human; not a robot
- Know your business/product/solution like the back of your hand
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to meet their needs
- Have a qualified customer support team to resolve issues
Last but not least, your customer service is only as good as your preferred communication channel; be easy to get in touch with and quick to respond. Use technology to your advantage:
According to Forbes, “Over the next year, brands will build on their successes (and learn from the failures), leveraging technology-driven solutions to the challenges of building deeper connections and relationships with their customers.”
One way to do this easily?
Text messaging. Reach out to our customer support team (via text!) to see how this can help bring your own customer support to the next level.