Good Customer Service could keep your Customers loving you!

In today’s world of smartphones and social media, companies have to be aware that good customer service is critical. 

When United Airlines created a social media storm about removing a passenger this week– 

A man was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., on Sunday, after the flight was overbooked and the passenger refused to adhere to the airline’s decision to randomly remove four passengers. by United Airlines forcibly removes passenger from overbooked flight

United Airlines stock plunged during the week and it has lawsuits pending due to the incident. 

Make me Feel Important

Mary Kay Ash of Mary Kay Cosmetics said about customer service once, “Imagine that every customer is holding up a sign that says, Make me feel important. When you get that this is all a customer wants, you can create a customer friendly environment. 

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According to The US Department of Commerce, the main reason customers leave a business, after poor product quality, is due to poor customer service.

That says it all.

The truth is, every customer is always at risk of leaving you. It’s like a middle school romance. Any little thing can cause you to break up.

What are a few steps to stop your customer from leaving you?

  • Apologize

    • Even if you don’t think it’s your company’s fault, it’s important to apologize to the client anyway.  “I’m so sorry you feel this way,” is a good way to apologize without taking the blame. However, if it was truly your fault, own up to it and apologize profusely.

 

  • Empathize

    • Put yourself in their shoes. Try stating, “I certainly understand; that would upset me too.” Then, move on toward getting answers that can help you solve the customer’s complaint to their satisfaction. You can empathize without being emotional. While it is personal to them, or they would not be irate, this is business and you should not take anything they say personally.

 

  • Listen

    • Even if you’re reading a complaint rather than listening on the telephone, take special care to really hear what the customer is saying between the negative words. If you have to, cut and paste what they are saying in a separate document, add in appropriate spaces, take out curse words, and find out what is really the issue by eliminating the extraneous information. If you need to, escalate the issue and call the customer. Phones can be very humanizing.

 

  • Start Small

    • Once you’ve determined the root problems, take small steps toward rectifying the problems one at a time. If you have to, ask the customer what you can do to make it better.  If it’s possible to solve the problem in the manner the customer desires, do it. If not, offer to meet in the middle.

 

  • Draw the Line 

    • Know when to give up. Yes, there are times with some customers that it’s better to simply give up. If you’ve done all the things that you can above, and they’re still irate and have not calmed down, it’s time to consider letting the customer go. Not every customer is going to fit with your vision and that is okay. Calmly return their money, and send them on their way.

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Providing Excellent Customer Service to Increase Sales by Jane Gardner on Scribd

Many online marketers make basic mistakes because they simply fail to understand their customers.
If you can put yourself in your customers’ shoes, it’s easy to understand what they want and how to deliver it to them.
When you empathize with them, you can create a marketing message that resonates with them and shows that you’re a responsive business that cares about their customers.

Understanding What Your Customers Want

When you put yourself in your customers’ shoes, you quickly understand what they’re looking for.
If you’re a restaurant owner, imagine what you’d expect if you were looking for a meal.
You’d want the shop to be visible, clean, and friendly, and to offer something others don’t.
Each online niche has certain characteristics that its customers look for.
Don’t only think about what they want, but also what your customers don’t want. There is always risk involved in making purchases, especially when a customer chooses a new shop for the first time.
If you can imagine your customers’ fears and concerns, you can address them before your customers have a chance to worry or object.

Shut up and Listen

One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is to assume.
In order to really understand your customers, you need hard data that they provide themselves.
Listen to customer feedback about your company, as well as the conversations they have online.
You can learn about people’s thoughts and feelings through blogs, blog comments, forum postings, and social media sites.
Even better, you can solicit the specific data you need by directly asking them to take a few minutes to give you feedback.
Online surveys are incredibly easy to conduct these days, and there are free tools, such as Survey Monkey, which make it a no-brainer.

Questions to Consider

Think about any company you deal with on a regular basis, and analyze your feelings about that company.
Then, try to discover why you feel that way. A few questions to ask yourself are:
What do you like or dislike about them?
What makes you want to go back and do business with them again?
Is their image friendly and professional?
Can you easily get what you want from them, and are interactions with them smooth and seamless?
What does the company do when you’re not satisfied with their products or services?
Through these questions, you can understand as a customer what makes a business’s service good or not.

How the Emotions of the Customer can affect the relationship with your business

The old way at looking at the customer business relationship was that the customer made the decision on whether they bought your product or service based on cold hard facts, features and benefits.

The emotions of the customer are playing in as a greater factor in purchase decision making than previously thought.

Behavioral economics has shown that rational decision-making accounts for approximately one-third of people’s decisions and behavior. Feelings influence engagement and engagement boosts sales, as engaged customers buy 90% more frequently and spend 60% more per transaction. by Unlock the Key to Customer Engagement with Virtual Reality

As new technology and our use of the internet is making how we connect more intimate with a business  (or more anonymous as “Fake News” and social media have no accountability for slander or negative reviews). A customer can instantly register a review on your business positive or negative depending on their experience in all of the social media platforms. They don’t have to pick up the phone to complain to an agent. A negative review can be spread 10x faster than a positive. 

According to Jay Baer in Forbes article, a business should respond to any complaint on social media whether true or untrue.

As (Jay) Baer puts it, “A lack of response is a response. It’s a response that says, ‘We don’t care about you very much.’ from the Forbes article Top 3 tips for acing customer service in the age of social media.

So what is a business to do to create the engagement and emotional connection that the customer wants? 

A few ways to engage and connect with your customer include:

1/ Connecting your business with an Influencer that your customer follows

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An oldie but a goodie is that  we, as customers, pay attention to the hero’s or heroines that we admire who tell us how wonderful is a new detergent soap or insurance company.

Today, we have new influencers we follow and some of them are celebrities but more often now, it can be influential people on social media that we follow and we pay attention to their recommendations. There are brands who pay celebrities to use and post an Instagram picture using the product now. There are brands who see the large engaged followers of a celebrity in the media and they offer a product line to them to create in that celebrity’s style.

The new pet lifestyle brand taps Ellen’s distinctive design sensibility and PetSmart’s pet know-how to create exciting new products for pet parents everywhere. by PetSmart Gets Big Customer Engagement Assist from Ellen DeGeneres

2/ Connect with their customers on social media

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Public Domain from pixabay

All you have to do is have a look at the Instagram accounts for Levi’s, Mercedes Benz with 8.1 million followers or Levi’s with 9.1 million followers or Ben and Jerry’s (benandjerry’s) with 600,000 followers and you can see how simple photos can still be engaging for any business.

If you can humanize your brand and products, and provide something for your customers to identify with, you are likely to build loyal fans. by How Customer Engagement Can Benefit Your Business – Due

3/ Have great responsive customer service

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Even a small business should have great customer service. A loyal customer will buy from you again and again if you provide a great experience.  Just something as simple as support@yourwebsite.com can be an easy way for a customer to connect to you on a personal level. I have discussed great customer service over on my youtube channel Solopreneur Success Strategies channel at http://jgtips.com/youtube if you want to get a few ideas.

4/Keep up to date on the new technology coming for customer business relationship

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For example, Virtual Reality technology is coming to the customer purchase experience according to this article (well worth looking at what is enterprise VR) as soon you’ll be able to view a product in a catalogue from all three sides, flip it over and measure it to see if it will fit etc. to answer all your questions on whether you need it. It is coming!

Enterprise VR empowers customers to interact with products and content in virtual reality and preview in 3D, touch, flip, and customize the products they are interested in. by Unlock the Key to Customer Engagement with Virtual Reality

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As well, how a business will communicate with a customer may change as text messaging becomes more acceptable as communication link to get questions answered or specials broadcast for the business.

An eWeek study revealed that 52% of consumers would be likely to exchange text with a live customer service agent and that the same number would actually prefer it to their existing channel of communication. by Increase Customer Engagement by Delivering Text-Generation Customer Service

To keep up to date on trends follow The Business of At Home Business

Customer Service Trends Predictions

Gartner Research predicts that customers will handle 85% of their relationships with a company without ever interacting with another human by the year 2020 from 8 Mega Customer Service Trends for 2016

This year it will be more important than ever for your customer service teams to provide quality support. At the end of the day, it’s all about understanding the customer and predicting what they will want next from  8 Mega Customer Service Trends for 2016

As a result savvy retailers will be switching to mobile formats, with  AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) tipped to be the system of choice for the future from Top eCommerce trends for customer experience – Fourth Source

In 2016 forward-thinking online retailers, particularly in the fashion space, will make more use of augmented reality to successfully redress the balance and eliminate the likelihood of missed sales and abandoned baskets from  Top eCommerce trends for customer experience – Fourth Source

A big focus for Google and one which will become even more prevalent amongst retailers this year is to champion a personalised approach that takes an individual user view to secure not just repeat custom, but incresed purchase volumes. Maintaining relevance means having a broad awareness of past purchases and personal preferences to win the hearts, mind and wallets of shoppers from  Top eCommerce trends for customer experience – Fourth Source

Do you have a customer service plan in your business?

3d Group of customer service related words

3d Group of customer service related words

When you started your business, did you have a plan for setting up customer service policies in your business plan?  Is there customer service policies and trainings for when you hire and train new employees?  Is customer service even in your mind when you are designing your business plan?

No!

Then you’d better start thinking about policies to create good customer service in your business because the customer experience is becoming crucial for a brick and mortar business and internet businesses.

According to Desk.com,  82% of people say they’ve stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer service. What’s worse is that 39% of those lost customers will avoid you for two years or more after that experience. As you can see, customer adoption and retention relies heavily on great customer service from Best practices for customer service training.

Just look at this article about Time Warner Cable and how their customer service rating has dropped critically for some simple customer service which they could easily improve.

Time Warner Cable had the lowest customer service rating of all cable companies in 2015, according to Consumer Reports, and lowest of all U.S. companies, according to another consumer agency from Calling all Time Warner customers to unite against its dreadful customer service

Word of mouth

What is the most effective and cheapest form of marketing for your business?  Word of mouth by your customers can increase or quickly decrease the revenue for your company.  People who have a bad experience will 10 times more other people about that bad experience than someone who has had a good experience. 

In 2012, the President of The Cheesecake Factory shared that his company’s marketing expenses are less than 20% of the industry average due to great WOM (Word of Mouth) from How Customer Service Interactions Foster Word of Mouth

Customer Experience

Since the customer experience is the relationship between your company and your customer, you need to identify what kind of relationship this would be. Some things to ask yourself  include:

The image you want to have in your customers’ minds.

The emotions you want interactions with your company to spark in customers.

The culture of your company that you want to convey to your customers.

Your company’s personality and how your customers see it.

Good customer service is ensuring that during every stage of this journey your client is taken care of, including, of course, providing an excellent product at the end of the journey  from Make Your Clients Ambassadors For Your Business With Good Customer Service.

Now, with customers willing to sign up with their email, address and answer surveys or contests or be willing to give feedback on a company just for a company, there is plenty of statistics and data on the internet to learn about your customers.  Google Search and Bing and Yahoo are providing search engines so they can collect information about what people want so they can sell ads etc.

 According to Forbes

Software can track how you like to buy how long you stay on reviews, the amount of time you spend comparing other products and more. With this data, you can customize your customer’s buying experience. For example, if your customer loves reading reviews, the next time they come to your website, the reviews may be at the top from  The Year Of The Customer: 16 Customer Service And Experience (CX) Trends For 2016

 Customer Culture

Consumers may want to purchase a product, but they want to do it in an atmosphere, online or in-store, that makes them feel something positive from Why You Should Think Less About Sales and More About the Customer Experience.
Just look at Starbucks where the coffee is distinct  and “hanging out” in Starbucks is an event. “Going for coffee” has become part of the North American culture in less than 20 years.

coffeeCompare your business to Starbucks and ask yourself:

Is visiting your business an experience?

Is your website easy to navigate?

Is your website easy to find your contact information?

Do you have  friendly, timely answers for anyone asking  for help?

Is a plan for customer service in your business plan?  No. Then come join us at the business of at home business newsletter to learn more about customer service!

State of Entrepreneurial Spirit!

From very young to very old, entrepreneurs are made not born!

WATCH THE VIDEO! INSPIRING!

Today, I learned about this program (that I wished I had when I was young) called Startupskool at early entrepreneurs. It is a foundation whose mission is to create a revolution of social innovators.

As mentioned on their website,

We gave a handful of elementary classrooms each a $100 micro-loan as startup capital, and asked them to raise funds for charity. Rather than running typical fundraisers such as asking for pledges, these classes used the money to start their own small businesses such as building bird houses to sell at a local market, selling green smoothies on Fridays, and creating family friendly events. These students were using their own creativity and imagination to turn our initial $100 loan into thousands of dollars for charity. Building on the success of our original experiment, we partnered with amazing educators and entrepreneurs to launch a full curriculum behind our program. Through media-based lessons and an interactive platform we’ve been able to transform over 120 classrooms across Canada into social innovators. Their efforts have since generated over $80,000 in support of local and global charities.

They now have a website where teachers can register and find out how to run their own program in their class to instill the entrepreneurial training into their children from kindergarten to High School (in Canada).  The internet program can be adapted (and it has been adapted) to other countries.  The children are given $100 for their team and they have to create $500 with a business and the team learns about marketing, costing, pricing and  product creation all through working together in a class.

It is a story like this which makes you realize that anyone at any age can learn how to have the entrepreneurial spirit.  It just takes some training and knowledge about business and guidance from mentors to help you start.

This idea that i can pass on my knowledge about business to another so they can create a business themselves is a desire for this website.  Inside The Business of At Home Business membership there is the information and step-by-step to start a business.

Testimonials, do you do them?

Testimonials for companies that you work with and you are happy with the customer service and the information that you learned, do you do them?

Do you ask for testimonials from your customers when the work or service you did for them is complete?

No.

Then you are missing out on the best form of lead generation for your business.

I did this testimonial for www.hangoutmarketingu.com as I was asked and I was very happy with what I learned about Hangouts On Air in the program.  When I am asked how I learned to do Hangouts On Air, you can bet I will be referring them on to Hangoutmarketing because I was pleased with everything I learned for doing the lessons.

Is there a  better way to get free leads back to your business with happy customers telling everyone they know about your service?  No!

In the  structural engineering business with my husband, we do absolutely no advertising other than a listing in the Yellow Pages.  Remember the Yellow Pages!  We get all our customers from referrals. Whether it is from customers who we did work for before and their neighbour wants some advice on a good engineer or it is a local contractor who wants to make his new customer happy with good service, we get ALL our leads from referrals.

Customer referral marketing is one of the marketing strategies that is rarely talked about, especially online.

Does your customer give you any feedback after they receive your service or product about how happy or what was missing that made them unhappy? Do you ask?

Does your customer get a request from you for a testimonial if they were pleased with your service?   Do you follow-up and see if there is a quick way you can get them to submit something?  It could be a quick interview on video; it could be a survey to quickly fill in or a written testimonial.

I always use Consumer Reports when I am buying an expensive item for the house like a T.V. or car.  Why wouldn’t people want to know what other people got out of your service or product before they purchase!

Customer service is key to a successful business whether offline or online and this is what we talk about, as well as other topics, in the Business of At Home Business membership!  Check it out here.