What is Good Customer Service?
Customer service is a highly important part of every small business. Companies that are unable or unwilling to properly service their customers stand to lose the customers’ business. However, several key variables or characteristics set excellent customer service apart from mediocre customer service.
A company that best demonstrates these excellent customer service characteristics will have a distinct advantage over its competition.
Table of Content
- 1 What is Good Customer Service?
- 2 Characteristics of Good Customer Service
- 3 Features of Good Customer Service
- 4 What Does Excellent Customer Service Mean?
- 5 How customer service Impacts a Business
- 6 Impact of Good Customer Service in Small Business
- 7 Impact of Customer Service on Customer Satisfaction
- 8 How to Ensure Good Customer Service
- 9 How Lack of Customer Service Can Impact a Business?
- 10 How to Improve Customer Relations for Small Business Owner?
- 11 How Can Technology Improve Customer Relations?
Good customer service is a combination of well-trained employees and an efficient system. Customers want to encounter knowledgeable and professional customer service representatives with an efficient system at their disposal to resolve their issues. When that happens, it will go a long way toward helping retain customers and enjoying repeat business.
Characteristics of Good Customer Service
Followings are the characteristics of good customer service which are given below:
The tone that customer service representatives use to greet customers is important, according to businessknowhow.com. A well-trained customer service associate answers with a positive and upbeat tone. He identifies himself immediately, then asks how he can help.
This is the first contact the customer has with the company, so a professional attitude helps set the proper tone for the call.
With a good customer service department, nothing is left to chance. Use an efficient computer program that allows you to capture important information on each customer: product preferences, past purchases, all contact names, payment options and call notes.
The system should be accessible to all associates, and all should be trained on how to use the system. It would be helpful for associates to have answers to common customer questions available, according to more for small business.com
Proactive Problem Solving
A proactive customer service department spends time trying to determine what the issues are before they become problems, according to the Microsoft Small Business Center. Thus, ask customers what they like and dislike about your product or service. Let customers tell you what they would change or improve.
This can help your company to proactively identify potential areas of customer dissatisfaction and develop a plan to address them.
Businesses know-how identifies ongoing training as a characteristic of an effective customer service department. It is vital because products and technology change and new customer service methods are continually developed. Ongoing training will keep your associates up to date and identify new ways of keeping customers satisfied.
Features of Good Customer Service
Following are the features of good customer service which are given below:
Customers are Important
One of the primary features of good customer service is that the customer is the primary focus, according to the article “Teaching good customer service” published in “Entrepreneur” magazine. When a customer calls in a good customer service representative is taught to take the call immediately.
A customer should never be put on hold to take a personal phone call, and when a customer is put on hold for business reasons it should not be for more than 60 seconds.
Always apologize to customers after putting them on hold and explain why you did so. Make the customer feel important by treating the customer as though she is important.
A good customer service department knows how to remain calm and professional at all times. Customer service associates are taught how to deal with unruly customers, and customer service managers know when to step in and assist in a situation.
That calm and professional manner helps a good customer service department make rational decisions even in the face of the most difficult customer situations.
A good customer service department understands that a win-win situation is normally the best solution. The customer wins because he gets what he feels is a fair solution, and the company wins because it gets to retain some profit and keep a repeat customer.
Train customer service associates on how to identify and create win-win situations whenever possible. It is also important to be able to recognize when a situation cannot be a win-win and work to develop the best solution possible based on the given information.
One of the features of good customer service is always making sure that the customer is completely satisfied and that a situation has been completely resolved. A good customer service associate is taught to ask a customer if there is anything else that she needs to be done before the call is ended.
Always finish the job completely, and leave the customer feeling as though she received excellent customer service.
What Does Excellent Customer Service Mean?
A company that best demonstrates these excellent customer service characteristics will have a distinct advantage over its competition:
One of the most important elements for achieving excellent customer service is training. Customer service employees must be trained on product features, prices, warranties and even the various technical aspects of products.
A company must create a seamless customer service experience, according to the article, “Creative Customer Service. In other words, a company’s customer service department must be as efficient as sales, marketing and all other departments.
Excellent customer service means acknowledging a customer’s question in a timely manner. When someone calls a company, he expects the customer service department to answer the phone, or at least be easily accessible.
Once the caller reaches customer service, he expects his questions to be answered promptly. Excellent customer service means having more experienced people or supervisors available to answer more difficult or technical questions.
When customers have problems with their products, excellent customer service means solving these issues and problems promptly or at least executing a reasonable plan of action. For example, a customer may call a small Internet service provider because she cannot access the Internet.
The Internet provider’s customer service department should stay on the phone with the customer until she gets her service back. If the problem remains unsolved, the company should send a service representative to the woman’s house.
The company should provide the date and time of the service call and stick by that appointment.
Excellent customer service requires effective listening and communication skills. A company’s customer service representatives should listen carefully to what the customer needs. The answer or solution to the problem or question should accurately address the nature of the call, according to the all-business website.
Moreover, excellent communication skills are crucial. A customer should be able to easily understand what the customer service representative is saying. The representative must speak distinctly and use common terminology that everyone understands, not highly technical language.
Prevention or Solution
A company should periodically measure key elements of its customer service department, such as timeliness, accuracy and problem-solving effectiveness. Customer service satisfaction surveys, which can be conducted by telephone or even online, are a way to accomplish this.
Companies can then use the feedback to correct aspects of customer service that have shortcomings.
How customer service Impacts a Business
According to the Small Business Administration, poor customer service is the number one reason that people discontinue doing business with a company. And since many customers never let you know they’re unhappy, it is often too late for you to correct the situation.
Therefore, effective customer service should be a critical component in your business’s method of operation.
According to Chris Bryant, founder of customer service and personal branding firm called rapport Strategies Group, customers buy for emotional reasons as much as for logical reasons. A customer that feels that she has not been treated well by a salesperson or customer service agent may be less likely to make a purchase or do additional business with your company in the future.
On the other hand, a strong customer service policy that is executed properly can make customers feel good about your business. In some cases, they may even be willing to pay a little bit more or travel farther to your establishment if they’ve enjoyed doing business with you.
Satisfied customers are also more likely to tell others about their experience, which serves as an effective form of word-of-mouth advertising that costs you nothing.
service doesn’t always involve having a separate department that handles incoming phone calls and complaints. Even a small company can demonstrate strong customer service in its daily practices.
Examples include how a receptionist treats a customer who comes in to pay a bill, how quickly you as a small business owner address a customer’s email complaint about a purchase made at your establishment or even how well you treat your vendors or delivery people.
According to Bryant, excellent customer service also involves anticipating customer needs and meeting or even exceeding them. For example, if you operate a dry cleaning service, you can meet customer expectations by offering same-day service if your competitors are doing the same.
You can exceed expectations by being the first one in town to offer free delivery for orders that exceed a specified dollar amount. This additional service can set you apart from the competition, leading to additional business.
If your business is small but growing, you may need a dedicated customer service person to deal with customer issues. If you can’t afford to hire a full-time person, consider outsourcing the task to a professional call centre that is familiar with your business type.
You can test the call centre’s quality of service by calling and posing as a customer before you make your final decision.
Impact of Good Customer Service in Small Business
With the ability to quickly adapt and handle customer concerns, customer service represents an area small businesses excel in, according to the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Good customer service has the potential to alter consumer viewpoints and provide businesses with important feedback related to the products and services they offer.
Good customer service departments understand the relationship between the way they greet, treat and handle customers and the bottom line. Efficient customer service departments seek to solve problems as they occur, and, if possible, prevent them in the first place.
For instance, when processing an order for products or services, good customer service departments will ask necessary questions to ensure the customer is ordering the correct item or service and will verify the data before ending the call or contact to verify accuracy.
This can reduce the drain on company resources and increase customer satisfaction by reducing the number of returns, complaints and problems that crop up because of poor handling.
In addition, properly trained representatives can effectively cross-sell additional products or services while processing customer orders, thereby increasing sales.
Treating customers with respect, greeting them with enthusiasm and going above and beyond to resolve any problems and issues can keep customers coming back. When companies seek to resolve problems and issues in a quick, pleasant and efficient manner, customers remain confident in the company and continue the business relationship.
In addition, happy customers help spread positive word-of-mouth, resulting in an additional avenue for marketing and advertising for your company. Small businesses can compete with larger businesses by cultivating customer relationships through personal attention and care.
Good customer service provide exceptional customer service to external and internal customers. Internal customers, including marketing and product development, depending on the data collected from customer service contacts to improve existing products and services.
This data can include information related to safety issues, production problems and poor performance. The internal benefits of good customer service also stretch beyond current products and services.
Good customer service departments capitalize on the ideas customers provide for suggested products and services, leading to opportunities for new innovations and revenue streams.
Impact of Customer Service on Customer Satisfaction
The impact of customer service on customer satisfaction are given below:
Loss of Business
About 70 percent of people who take their business elsewhere do so because of poor customer service and lack of human interaction, according to the Customer Service Training Center. Many of the big businesses in every industry have gotten too big to take care of their customers. They often hire outside customer service companies to handle issues and questions about their products.
The problem with this is that these outside companies do not have a personal investment in the companies they represent, so the quality of service suffers, and, in turn, customers take their money to competitors.
This is where you can capitalize on customer service. Picking up the slack where the big businesses fall short can make up for the lack of marketing resources and low prices that small businesses battle daily.
Businesses, no matter the size, should see every customer as a person making a conscious decision about where to spend their money. They chose you, so it is your job to keep them coming back. Providing exceptional customer service from hiring knowledgeable employees to implementing a personalized complaints department goes much further than having the lowest possible prices and less-than-adequate customer service.
Customers will return if they can talk to a real, well-educated person when they call your business phone, according to Small Business Software. Telephone customer service must be quick, polite and end with customer satisfaction.
This doesn’t necessarily mean handing out free stuff when something goes wrong, but you can offer partial discounts and gift cards so they will return.
Customers will return if they can visit your website and find a phone number and/or email address on the front page of the site. Customers will return if your employees are knowledgeable about the products you sell whether cutting edge technology, competitors prices or where to find certain items in the store.
Customers will return if every single one of your employees seems excited about his job and turns that excitement into excellent customer service.
Word-of-Mouth Praise, Criticism
People don’t often sit around talking about the quality of customer service at their favourite or least favourite businesses, but it will come up at some point. The downside to word-of-mouth information about your business is that people are more likely to remember and share a negative experience than a positive experience.
Giving your customer an unforgettable positive experience should be your top priority so they share with family and friends what they experienced at your business.
How to Ensure Good Customer Service
Committing your company to good customer service is one way to propel your small business to new heights. When customers are satisfied with your service, they may feel compelled to tell friends, family members and other business associates about your company.
If you employ others, you have to spread your customer service initiatives to them as well because they represent your business
Establish a customer service manual for your business to use and train your employees in customer service principles. The overall goal of your customer service manual and the training session is to teach employees how to satisfy the customer’s needs and remain courteous while helping the business grow.
Create a complaint management system for you and your employees to follow to ensure good customer service. Listen closely to your customers when they have issues, ask questions, identify what will satisfy the customer’s issues, apologize for the inconvenience and then propose a resolution.
Follow up on the resolution as well to assure the customer is satisfied.
Ask employees to answer the phone on the first ring and give them standard greetings to use for professionalism.
Write individual scripts for employees to follow for contacting customers. For instance, if your employees have to call customers to request payment, give them a greeting, format for reciting information about the invoice, a standard line to use when asking for the payment and closing to recite to the customer.
A script will help ensure that the employee doesn’t go off on a tangent or say something to offend the customer.
Stress to your employees the importance of staying true to your word and practicing that principle yourself when dealing with customers. Only make promises you can keep to avoid alienating and losing the trust of your customers.
Record conversations if your employees have to make sales calls in the course of business. Require employees to copy you onto any email communications as well so that you can monitor the conversations to ensure good customer service.
Survey your customers to find out what they think of your service. This will help you identify vulnerabilities at your business and work with specific employees not living up to your customer service standards.
How Lack of Customer Service Can Impact a Business?
Good customer service keeps customers coming back. Bad customer service keeps customers away. It is important that a business have effective and pro-active customer service personnel and a good policy.
Keeping customers happy, and getting them to tell others about the great service they received, will propel a business forward, whereas a company lacklustre customer service policy will damage the reputation of the company in several ways. Ultimately, bad customer service can cause the closure of a business
- Needs Go Unfulfilled
- Decline of Word-of-Mouth Sales
- Decline of Repeat Customers
Customer service is listening to the needs and wants of the customer and striving to meet his requests in a polite and professional manner. Whether the service is offered in person, via email or over the telephone, a customer service representative must also help a customer identify needs that they might not have considered and anticipate possible future needs for the customer.
Needs Go Unfulfilled
If a customer does not feel that his needs are being addressed or that the business representative is more concerned with what he feels the customer’s needs than what the customer is requesting, the customer is less likely to buy from the company. This will have an immediate impact on the bottom line.
Decline of Word-of-Mouth Sales
When customers are unsatisfied with either the product or service a company offered, they will not recommend the company to others. The customer might also go as far as to recommend others not patronize the business based on their negative experience. This will affect sales and could lead to financial problems for the business.
Decline of Repeat Customers
It costs less to retain current customers than it does to attract new ones. Good customer service keeps customers happy. If needs go unmet, or the acknowledgement of a less-than-stellar product is lacking along with an attempt to satisfy customers, customers might buy from the business once, but will not return.
If a company has to spend a constant portion of their operating budget attracting new customers, it can lead to a cash flow problem, which can be the death knell for a business.
When offering customer service, the offer must be genuine. Business representatives must remember that without customers, the business would not exist, nor would their jobs. Customer service staff must remain polite and conciliatory, even when faced with an angry or rude customer.
The representative must acknowledge the customer concerns and find a way to rectify the situation. When a business is looking for customer service representatives, it is in the company best interest to hire people who have compassion and the ability to listen along with adequate sales skills.
The salesman with a great pitch but who lacks customer service skills will not produce over the long haul.
How to Improve Customer Relations for Small Business Owner?
Your small business can go well beyond providing good customer service and advance to developing strong customer relationships. When you have ongoing relationships with customers, you have repeat sales that can drive your business profits up.
Customer relations require a different set of skills than customer service. Whereas customer service can help you focus on delivering products and resolving problems, customer relations involves a longer-term view.
Find ways to encourage customer feedback. You can give out your email address by putting it on all of your business cards, your website and even on your packaging. Let customers know that you want to hear from them. You can also include a feedback form online, and enclose a printed, self-addressed feedback card when you package products.
Humanizing Your Company
Customers will warm up to you if you let them know you are more than a business. You can include pictures of you and your family on your website. You can also post personal sayings and pictures in your place of business.
When speaking with your customers, inquire about their families and let them tell you what is going on in their lives.
Your Suggestion Box
Your communications with customers don’t always have to be about problems and responses to doing business with you. Actively seek customer input on what products or services they would like to see you offer.
You can place a suggestion box in your place of business or post a virtual one on your website. Read the suggestions and respond to as many of them as possible.
Have customers indicate their birth dates on a form, and make sure to send out physical or virtual greeting cards. You can also send holiday cards, or just send good wishes and a thank-you for no reason at all.
You can offer select customers special rewards like discounts or early shopping privileges. Picking out loyal customers lets them know you pay attention and appreciate their repeat business. Make your customer rewards efforts public so others know they can benefit from becoming a loyal customer.
How Can Technology Improve Customer Relations?
Customer relations play a key role in the success or failure of a business. Strong relationships build brand loyalty and encourage repeat business, while poor customer service can drive buyers to your competitors.
Technological innovations have made it easy for businesses to interact with customers, particularly for small businesses that may not have the funds for traditional marketing and advertising techniques:
- Keep Customers Up to Date
- Easier Questions and Feedback
- Effective Delivery
- Customer Service Management
- Efficiency and Pricing
- Working Towards Customer Satisfaction
- Make the Customer Feel Welcome
Keep Customers Up to Date
Email lists and company websites allow small business owners to keep customers up to date on the latest changes or developments. Business owners can use these tools to inform customers about new products that may interest them, or to inform them of sales, store events or other campaigns. Social media sites expand this capability even further.
The low-cost nature of these tools means even small or new businesses with bare-bones budgets can maximize customer relations without a major investment.
Easier Questions and Feedback
Technology now allows consumers to reach a company at a time that’s convenient for them, not just during business hours. Using email or Web submission forms, buyers can share feedback or ask questions about products or services.
Electronic communication is also cheaper and faster for both parties, and the convenience factor may encourage more customers to interact with their favourite businesses.
The popularity of digital music and e-book readers indicates consumers are eager to try out new forms of their favourite media. Cable companies, for instance, have a long history of poor customer relations and could benefit dramatically from this type of technological innovation.
Consumers would also benefit from a more effective delivery of their favourite programs. Other businesses can similarly utilize new forms of media and technology to streamline services and bolster marketing and public relations efforts.
Customer Service Management
Customer service management software programs track and analyze data and customer feedback, making this information easier for companies to understand. Using these programs, companies can be better equipped to deliver products and services that consumers want and market them more effectively.
Efficiency and Pricing
Technology can also help companies streamline operations, reduce staff and processes, and cut costs internally, which can then be passed on to the consumer in the form of lower prices. Since many consumers actively seek out value pricing, this strategy serves as an effective way of building customer relations.
Working Towards Customer Satisfaction
Regardless of the type of contact that you have with customers, whether it is over the phone, face-to-face, in a restaurant or shop, in an office or financial institution, in the entertainment or tourist industries, good customer service skills help everybody.
A happy, satisfied customer is likely to return and/or tell others about the good experiences that they had when dealing with your company – word of mouth recommendations from friends and colleagues are
Smiles are contagious. usually, when you smile at somebody they’ll smile back at you. Do not pretend to smile, or produce a false smile since these are easy to spot and send the wrong messages. Instead, relax, gain eye contact and smile naturally.
This will help the customer or client to feel at ease and welcomed, and you’ll come across as friendly and approachable, setting the scene for more positive interaction.
If you are talking to somebody on the telephone then you can still smile your voice sounds different when you smile and are happy. Clients and customers are more likely to want to talk to a cheerful person with an enthusiastic personality and by smiling while you talk you can help to project this.
Make the Customer Feel Welcome
Use an appropriate greeting to make your customer feel welcome. Customers nearly always have a choice of which businesses and organizations they use, they didn’t have to pick yours and they don’t have to pick yours in the future.
Start positively with a warm, sincere welcome; but don’t overdo it! “Good Morning”, “Welcome”, “Thanks for stopping by” are all simple introductions and you can follow up with “How can I help”, “Are you looking for something, in particular, today” or some other appropriate comment to indicate that you are there to help and that you are happy to help.
Continue communicating as appropriate, relax and be as natural as possible – if necessary steer the conversation around the product or service you want to sell. You don’t want to come across as being pushy or too complacent so try to be natural and avoid sounding as if you are reciting a script.