Providing a great customer service experience should be a priority for every company. Replacing a lost customer is extremely expensive, often five times the cost of retaining one. The effort and cost to build a top-notch support team are rewarded multiple times over, measured by increased revenue, elevated customer satisfaction scores, and overall brand awareness. Among the many factors you can control that influence and improve customer experience, here are the top five to prioritize:
1. Seasoned Staff
Seasoned staff is essential to a great customer experience. You can have every other variable accounted for, but if you don’t have the proper people in place, an okay experience is the best you can hope for.
When specifying customer service staff, don’t view this role as one where cost drives decisions -these vital people should not be viewed as commodity items!
Tenured front-line representatives, and supervisors overseeing their efforts, are the winning combination. While you can and should customize your staffing strategy to your audience and support approach, the absolute best approach is to hire staff who are experienced and educated. Doing so will undoubtedly outweigh the additional cost of securing their services.
Supervisory staff, those who oversee the efforts of representatives in production, quality assurance, and client services, are every bit as important as the staff they are responsible for. The best way to hire supervisory staff is to hire from within, whenever possible. This ensures supervisors will relate to their team from a first-hand perspective and their experiences are successfully leveraged in this role. When promoting employees to these positions it helps to have a track record to evaluate reflecting their attendance, commitment to excellence, and quality.
2. Prioritize Active Listening Skills
Once you have the right people accounted for you can focus on key skills, which are introduced, and reinforced, through effective training. The most important key skill is active listening.
Effective listening skills allow a representative to understand the needs of a customer and provide proper support. Whether a customer needs pre, or post, sale support, staff who are prepared to listen to their needs are more likely to present proper solutions for them. Sales are impacted, returns and exchanges minimized, recurring customers established, and ROI positively impacted when representatives are engaged and serving customers appropriately.
There’s nothing more frustrating to a customer than explaining what you need and not having a representative understand, particularly if the need is basic. Make sure you provide staff with the active listening skills needed to be successful in their role. This will improve customer experience and reiterate that representatives are there to help!
3. Develop Sympathetic/Empathetic Staff
The most successful representatives can virtually step into customer’s shoes, feeling their concerns and relating to their needs. Contact centers must prepare their staff to take on this role by conditioning them through training to operate in this manner.
A true expression of sympathy/empathy requires more than just stating words of appreciation for their situation. Front-line staff should do everything possible to help each customer to their fullest ability. For those situations that require more help, escalation to senior personnel who are further empowered can reflect sympathy/empathy beyond the norm. These actions keep customers happy and engaged, resulting in greater lifetime value and better brand loyalty.
4. Leverage Customer Data
While not the case with someone ordering for the first time, access to customer data in all other situations allows representatives to provide proficient support and an elevated customer experience.
Grant your service staff access to customer data and order history whenever possible. This information should be properly applied to customer service interactions, allowing staff to greet customers by name, confirm information (rather than capturing – a time saver!), and quickly access details from an order or call previously placed.
Applying knowledge of preferences observed from orders will often result in additional revenue for the company. Noting buying habits from previous purchases allows properly trained agents to up and cross-sell additional products as well.
5. Make Customer Access Easy
Customers require help at different times and in different ways. The best practice to employ is to offer support 24/7 and through all available channels.
In our hectic lives, we often squeeze customer service inquiries into our schedules whenever time permits. While some companies still offer live customer service during truncated hours only, the decision is typically driven by fixed costs and can hurt the company’s reputation and top line. Providing access to your customer service team on demand often makes the difference between an order placed with your company or your competitor.
When planning your customer service strategy, you must also decide on the channels to make available. The days of the telephone being the only option are long gone; customers are accustomed to having choices. Make sure you apply an omnichannel strategy, providing customers with access to support via telephone, email, chat, SMS, and social channels. There are many contact center software platforms available that afford you these options cost-effectively and without configuration hassles.
While there is much more to consider when building a sound customer support strategy, focusing on these five areas will get you off to a good start.
If your company is developing an industry-leading support team and needs to advance or improve your customer experience, contact Telecom, Inc. to compliment your team as a co-sourced partner, supplementing your live support staff, and contributing to a winning formula.