When was the last time you bought something and had a horrible experience when trying to return it? Or called an airline and spent hours on hold, only to be told – maybe even rudely – that you couldn’t get your money back or exchange your ticket?
Will you make a purchase from those companies again? Probably not. And chances are that you’re not only going to avoid them, but depending on your level of anger, you might even vent your frustration by sharing your negative customer service experience on social media.
Situations like these result in the loss of a customer and future revenue – but oddly enough, most companies spend more money on acquiring new customers than retaining the ones they’ve already got. This is an expensive mistake, since on average, it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.
How good customer service pays off
Customer service is an investment and unfortunately, many companies don’t budget enough time or money for customer service, especially when funds are tight (as they’ve been for most businesses during COVID). Providing good customer service requires clear and consistent policies, thorough staff training, and having the right people, but all these things pay off.
When customers feel that they’re listened to and being taken care of, they:
- Spend more money when they make a purchase
- Complain less, requiring less support time
- Come back as repeat customers
- Tell others about you, giving you free referrals
Another way that good customer service pays off is in staff retention. While most companies don’t connect good customer service with employee turnover, the two are closely intertwined. (So, if your company’s hiring right now – and who isn’t? – keep in mind the importance of finding strong customer service skills among your new recruits!)
Companies highly rated for excellent customer service are often found on the lists of best companies to work for, because what’s happening on the inside of an organisation is felt by customers on the outside. Good customer service is an expression of the company culture and the time and money devoted to hiring smart, engaged and passionate employees.
How to improve customer service
Good customer service doesn’t just happen overnight, but here are some tips to improve your customer experience and engagement that will make a difference for your bottom line in the long run:
- Find ways to gather customer feedback using emails, surveys and quick online polls and make it easy for customers to participate
- Include customer service as part of your overall marketing and business plans
- Personalise deals, offers and communications whenever you can to help customers understand your willingness to focus on their needs
- Offer options so customers can contact you through a variety of methods, such as via phone, email, website forms, and live chat programs, if possible
- Create clear policies for your staff and hold regular training sessions, including ensuring that your staff are highly familiar with your product or service lines.
Most importantly, listen to what customers have to say, keep your word, and respond as quickly as possible if there’s a question or problem. Doing so will win loyalty, improve sales and keep customers coming back for more.
Improving customer service and bedding this in within an organisation is one of the keys to business improvement. If you’d like to discuss other business improvement strategies contact your Accru advisor today.