In order to talk about good customer service online, we need to talk about the consequences of bad service first.
You probably know from your own experience that when you get bad service, it makes you want to shout about it. And these days it’s easier than ever to draw other people’s attention to the problem you’re having, to name the company on Facebook or Twitter, where they might be shamed into doing something about it.
What if this were to happen to your firm? I bet a significant part of your business, whatever it is, is built on reputation and that it was hard work to get it to where you are today. Would it be devastating to be attacked online or would you handle it so well that you’d end up with even more customers?
Of course people share when they’re happy, too, and word of mouth is a big factor in success. But the urge to complain when you’re let down can be a lot stronger than the urge to tell other people how happy you are when a company merely meets your expectations.
If you want to avoid grumpy customers complaining online for all the world to see, the main thing you have to do is offer excellent customer service in the first place. Yep, it’s that simple!
- Be honest about what you offer. Don’t go overboard with crazy claims that will inevitably make people feel disappointed.
- While promising more than you can deliver is a bad idea, being honest and then over-delivering when you can is one way sure-fire way to impress.
- Be genuinely helpful. What sort of problems are your customers looking to solve? Does what you offer provide this or just something ‘close enough’ that you could improve on? Survey your customers occasionally – perhaps they want something you haven’t thought of yet.
- Keep learning. Whether it’s through your day-to-day work, or you’re in the sort of profession where you need to keep up-to-date with the latest trade news, make sure you’re on top of it all so you’re always the expert in your field.
If you have an online shop or business website there’s even more to consider:
- Be easy to contact. Put more than one method (such as email, phone, contact form) up so that if one fails, you’re still reachable.
- When people do get in touch, respond as quickly as possible. It only takes a short time to elapse for customers to start feeling ignored.
- Make it easy to return goods, if you sell them. This may seem like it could be bad for business, but it creates a sense of trust.
- Write an FAQ page that covers all the most frequent questions you get. It saves customers digging around for info or having to contact you before they buy.
- Automatically send out emails not only on purchase, but whenever something happens to a customer’s order, such as a delay or despatch. Keep them in the loop and they’re more likely to understand if a problem crops up.
- Follow up after the sale – although this may depend on the business. If you’re a landscape gardener then I think a call to check on whether the client is happy is good practice. If you have sold someone a notebook a phone call may feel a bit over the top!
Then, if any problems arise:
- Listen to the client – don’t brush them off or assume they’re wrong. The customer isn’t always right… but sometimes they are, and sometimes you just want them to think they are. Either way, listen.
- Own the problem. Apologise for it, if you need to. Fix the problem as soon you can, if it’s fixable.
- If customers complain on social media or on any public online space such as your blog, pause and re-read your responses before posting. Never post in haste! It doesn’t matter if you delete a post, if it’s online for even a moment there’s a chance someone will see it and take a screen-grab. Be calm and measured in response and it will stand you in good stead.
- Make the customer feel they can come back to you. Use your judgement here to assess what you need to do, whether it’s sorting out a replacement product, a refund, or a clear explanation of what happened. If they trust you, it’s easier than you might think to overcome issues big and small.
To speak to us today regarding a free consultation or to find out how we can help your business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01992 275626. We look forward to hearing from you.