Customer service is much more than having someone available to answer customer queries or concerns. It’s now about being more proactive in creating a great ‘customer experience’ that helps customers and fosters more loyalty and growth.
With customer service becoming one of the ways businesses are trying to differentiate themselves from competitors selling similar products or services, creative world-class customer service can be a big part of success.
The importance of customer service
Customer service has always been an important part of business, but it’s gone beyond just being a department in a business that handles customer queries or complaints.
It’s now become a mindset that needs to be active in every part of a business, right from the initial customer interaction (regardless of whether it’s in-person, online or over the phone) through to the post-purchase support.
Customer service is now understanding how every touchpoint or interaction is an opportunity to build better relationships with customers and not just meet expectations, but exceed them.
The first stage of this is investing in training and development for employees so they can deliver the kind of customer service you expect, or investing in some form of outsourced customer service if you don’t have the internal resources.
A virtual answering service is a great example.
Outsourced call answering services act as a reception, dealing with inbound calls and taking messages, forwarding calls to the right person or dealing with enquiries directly to provide better customer service while allowing your team to focus on their core responsibility.
The role of customer service in business success
As customer service has grown in significance and become a differentiator on which businesses compete, it’s also become more linked to the bottom line, with businesses which provide better service also benefitting from greater commercial success.
Here are the main benefits of providing world class customer service.
Increased customer value and retention
More than half (58%) of customers saying they’d be willing to pay more for a product if they knew they’d get a better service.
This provides businesses more opportunity to retain premium prices while putting more focus on the service side of the business, which can be a better investment than reducing costs (which can then be difficult to increase in the future)
Similarly, more than half of customers say they’re more likely to become repeat buyers after getting a good experience.
So making customers feel valued increases the chance of them coming back again in the future.
This can have more significant commercial impacts long-term too, because it’s significantly more expensive to win new customers than it is to retain existing customers.
Better brand loyalty and awareness
As well as increasing brand loyalty in the long-term, world class customer service can also increase your brand awareness through referrals and word-of-mouth.
By providing personalised, attentive services, businesses can foster long-term relationships with customers. This can result in increased customer lifetime value, as loyal customers tend to spend more over time.
These loyal customers are also much more likely to tell other people about your services and recommend you to others looking for similar products and services.
This is particularly true if they’re confident their friends or family will get a great service.
Less customer churn
Customer churn (when you lose an existing customer) can put stress on revenue and profits because you’re continually needing to spend money on sales and marketing to replace the customer you’re losing.
And it’s much more expensive to attract new customers than it is to retain existing ones (as we’ve already mentioned).
Providing better customer service can help reduce customer churn as your customers aren’t likely to leave for a competitor when they know they’re getting a great service from you.
Even if things are going wrong, customers are more likely to stay with a business that resolved issues quickly and continues to provide a better service.
It’s why they’re more willing to pay extra if they know the service will be better.
It creates a differentiator
When many companies are producing the same products or offering the same services (or close to the same), it can be difficult to find a differentiator outside of reducing costs – which is a race to the bottom.
Instead, being known as a company that provides exceptional service can be a better way to get an advantage over the competition.
If customers know you’re responsive to enquiries, easy to contact and are good at communicating, they’re more likely to do business with you vs a competitor who makes it hard to fix issues or makes it difficult to contact them.
Improve staff morale
How your employees feel isn’t always the first thought when it comes to customer service, but working for a company that values customer service can be a huge boost to employees.
It makes sense when you think about it.
Company with world class customer service are more likely to have happy customers, or more understanding customers when things aren’t working properly.
This is compared to businesses that don’t value customer service and leave employees to constantly deal with complaints and angry callers.
Having employees dealing with happy customers more regularly is a huge morale booster and make your team more likely to enjoy coming to work everyday.
The impact of poor customer service
As positive as great customer service can be, poor customer service can be hugely destructive to the commercial success and reputation of a company.
One negative interaction can quickly spread through word-of-mouth, and even quicker when considering social media.
While a single person can spread details about a poor experience to friends and family, a single poor review on Google or social media can reach thousands (potentially millions) of customers in a few seconds.
It’s important for businesses to recognise the significance of customer service and invest in strategies to continuously improve it. By prioritising customer satisfaction and delivering exceptional service, companies can not only retain existing customers but also attract new ones through positive word-of-mouth and online reviews.
What creates ‘world-class customer service’?
World-class customer service goes beyond just being polite and helpful.
It’s about understanding customer needs and desires, knowing what they expect from interactions with your business and ensuring you go the extra mile to exceed customer expectations across the entire customer journey and every communication channel.
You call a business with a question or a problem and are greeted by a friendly voice who asks you what the issue is. You tell them and they either solve the problem directly or forward you to someone who can help.
The process is smooth and professional and resolves the issue with little fuss.
This simple process, which quickly delivers value to the customer, is what makes up world-class customer service.
Key attributes of exceptional customer service
Exceptional customer service includes several points that are all essential for creating a positive experience for customers.
First, exceptional customer service is responsive, ensuring customer enquiries are addressed promptly and efficiently. Whether it’s through phone calls, emails, or live chat, world-class customer service is ready to assist customers and provide timely solutions.
World-class customer service is also built on knowledgeable teams who have an in-depth understanding of your products and can provide accurate information and guidance to customers. This knowledge is essential for all your customer-facing employees to have to improve customer confidence.
More important than everything, though, great customer service is about demonstrating genuine care and understanding of the customer’s situation. It involves actively listening to concerns, being empathetic towards challenges, and working to find the best solution.
The importance of a customer-first approach
A customer-first approach means putting the customer at the centre of everything your business does and every decision you make and aligning all departments and functions towards delivering exceptional customer experiences.
From the first interaction to answering phone calls or using new technology like managed live chat to deal with enquiries online, through to using new communication models like direct messages and social media, customer service should weave through everything your business does.
Organisations that prioritise a customer-first approach understand that customer satisfaction is an ongoing relationship.
A customer-first approach can lead to valuable insights and feedback that can drive innovation and improvement. By actively listening to customers and understanding their needs, you can identify opportunities for product or service improvements that will benefit the customer and your business.
If you want to find out how to improve your customer service through telephone answering, virtual receptionist services or managed live chat, get in touch.
You can begin a no-obligation 7-day free trial today and get a close-up look at how these services work and can benefit your business.
07th September, 2023
Posted by Face For Business