In the expanding world of new marketing, companies and customers alike are starting to understand it’s much more cost effective to retain customers rather than throwing money at advertising, in the attempt to acquire new ones. Unfortunately, building loyalty takes more effort than just dedicating funds to acquiring new customers in bulk. Loyal customers are a valuable asset; a commodity not to be taken lightly. In addition, the cost of acquiring a new customer far exceeds keeping loyal ones.
Customers talk to their friends, colleagues and family members and cheer your brand, whether they have good things to say or bad. Hopefully it’s more good. It’s almost like having your product itself performing on a billboard, for all to see. Just make sure your product performs well; and when it doesn’t, fix problems quickly and adjust procedures and paradigms to compensate for this problem in the future.
Teach your customer service staff to get a feel of the reaction to answers they are given to questions customers ask. Don’t wait until a customer gets angry and complains before looking at procedures and policies. Learn to tweak problems on the fly based on how your customers react to them.
Hire people who are intuitive and empathetic, people who can take initiative and not simply do things as they’ve always been done; but get an overall feel for your customer base and tweak or change policies or procedures accordingly. Your customer base should be treated like a close friend or family member; you should react closely to the emotional responses of customers at large.
Of course, this idea should be communicated in a very general way; a quality customer service employee will understand and even want to please the customer that can be pleased. Pleasing every single customer may not be possible, but we can still have an attitude of appeasement towards any and all customer issues; do our best, and when we cannot, sometimes that’s okay.
Sometimes, we should draw on people as a resource. Seek out online blogs on the subject. Call an old co-worker and ask him or her how to deal with the problem. Sometimes, a simple and blunt question like “what would you like me to do for you”, directed at the customer, can be an asset.
Do not get callused towards your customer base. Keep your call center loose and treat your employees like your customers. Be understanding towards your employees and they will be understanding towards their customers. Keep the call center environment light and energetic and your employees will stay easy-going and friendly over the phone. Treat customer issues with the seriousness they deserve, and your employees will do the same. And so on.
Overall, attitude is ultimately the only thing that we have control over in the “put out the flames” world of customer service. The customer service department is more unpredictable than any other, because problems arise without warning; often you think you’ve “heard it all”, only to be shocked the next day by a new issue that confounds you to no end. This only emphasizes the importance of having a stellar customer service department – it is the “front line” in your battle to keep your company growing and viable. The only thing we can do to prepare for these instances is to create an atmosphere of empowerment and innovation, and hire quality people. In the end, you’ll create a viable company, and enjoyable place to work, and Customers For Life.