It’s no secret that customers are the lifeblood of any business. Business success is impossible to achieve if you’re leaving your customers angry with your products, services, or customer service. A thoughtful strategy for customer service is essential for maintaining customer satisfaction and is an important part of the customer experience provided by your business.
In this article, we’ll discuss why a customer service strategy matters and share eight steps to creating a strategy that will help your business provide excellent customer service.
Why a Customer Service Strategy Matters
Customer service leaders may not always be interested in investing much time or energy into customer service. However, thinking like this is a serious mistake. Customer service is not an area of business that should be overlooked. So much of the customer experience comes from customer service interactions. Here are a few of the ways a customer service strategy can improve your business:
1. Customer Retention
An effective customer service strategy builds customer trust and loyalty. It also increases customer retention rates. It’s much easier to retain a loyal customer base than it is to continuously acquire new customers after losing them to poor customer service. Existing customers are likely to be satisfied customers, but poor customer service in their moment of need can change that. Customer lifetime value increases as you ensure current customers remain happy.
2. Customer Satisfaction
It’s difficult to achieve consistent customer satisfaction without a strong strategy behind your customer service. Customers easily share negative experiences they’ve had with businesses. It takes consistent customer satisfaction for someone to promote a business to friends and family.
3. Competitive Advantage
There are very few businesses that don’t face competition within their industries. The quality of the product or service provided by the business is a huge factor, but to a customer, the service they receive can be even more important. There may be various differentiating factors, but customer service quality is the one customers care about most.
4. Reputation Management
If you look at the reviews of most successful businesses, you’ll notice that many comments talk about the staff. The comments will include how helpful or friendly the staff was and how pleasant an experience the customer had. This is also true for businesses that aren’t person-to-person.
5. Customer Acquisition
A strong customer service strategy will help you acquire new customers, not just retain them. A positive reputation is a great selling point for any business. An amazing customer service experience will often be shared with friends and family.
Building a Winning Customer Service Strategy
A customer service strategy should be tailored to your business. However, the general principles that guide the creation of a winning customer service strategy are similar for most businesses. Using the steps below, create a strategy that takes into account your unique offerings and the kind of customers you serve.
1. Understand Your Customers
Spend some time learning about and comprehending your target market. Identify their requirements, preferences, and pain points. By using this information, you can modify your customer service tactics to better suit their unique needs. Customer journey mapping is a great activity for this stage.
2. Define Your Customer Service Vision
Create a compelling vision statement for your customer service that is succinct and in line with your overall business objectives. This strong vision will act as a compass for your customer service strategy and contribute to a unified, client-focused approach.
3. Train and Empower Your Customer Service Team
To give your customer service team the ability necessary to provide exceptional service, invest in training programs. Empower them to make decisions and resolve issues independently, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability.
Business leaders may be resistant to this investment, but an investment in a company’s service quality will always pay dividends. The right training program could prevent a potential PR disaster and contribute to a positive company culture.
If resources are limited, consider outsourcing customer service to a reputable company. Sometimes putting parts of your business into expert hands can be a winning move.
4. Set Clear Service Standards and Expectations
Establish clear service standards and expectations for your team to follow. These standards should cover areas such as response time, tone of communication, problem resolution, and customer satisfaction metrics. Regularly communicate and reinforce these standards to maintain consistency. Many businesses have goals around the number of interactions or resolutions each agent should meet. If you have such metrics, make sure they don’t affect the quality of each interaction.
5. Implement Effective Communication Channels
Offer multiple communication channels to cater to your customers’ preferences, such as phone, email, live chat, and social media. Ensure these channels are easily accessible and responsive and provide timely and personalized support. Make sure you plan to provide the same quality of support across all channels. Provide sufficient support to the customer service department so customers receive fast service and all messages are responded to in a timely manner.
6. Collect and Act on Customer Feedback
Implement a system to gather customer feedback through surveys, reviews, customer comment cards, and other feedback channels. Analyze this feedback to identify areas for improvement. Take proactive steps to address customer concerns and enhance their experience. If you have any systematic issues causing dissatisfied customers, implementing customer feedback will help increase customer happiness.
7. Foster a Customer-Centric Culture
Create a culture that prioritizes customer satisfaction and delights customers at every touchpoint. Encourage cross-department collaboration wherein all employees understand the importance of their role in delivering exceptional customer service. Each employee should develop a customer-first mindset.
8. Continuously Measure and Improve
Regularly monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) related to customer services, such as customer satisfaction scores, response time, resolution rate, customer retention, and customer churn. Use these metrics to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes to enhance the overall customer experience. Customer data will tell you exactly what you need to work on—it’s a reflection of customers’ needs. Make sure that customer service KPIs are focused on customer satisfaction and less on customer quantity.
No matter what your business offers to its customers, a winning customer service strategy will take your customer service to the next level. As you implement your strategy, you’ll see customer satisfaction improve as your business offers better service. Customer complaints and negative feedback will decline. You’ll also positively affect your business’s customer acquisition and retention, reputation, and competitive advantage.