12 Essential Strategies to Improve Customer Service
To improve customer service in an organization requires a holistic and customer-centric approach.
Customer Service is a challenging field because of the unique stresses it places on both service representatives and customers. It can require a concerted effort to shape a call center's culture and quality practices in a way that improves the customer's experience and lifts its metrics. Thankfully, there are many proven ways to do this.
Here are a few strategies to improve customer service and better serve customers:
1. Set Measurable Customer Service Goals
A first step to take when considering a customer service quality improvement plan is to decide what its goals will be. In order to be effective, the goals you set should be measurable so that it's clear to everyone whether they've been met or not.
Using metrics also makes it possible to track progress and notice patterns you might otherwise miss. Often long-term but intermittent problems can be identified and solved by analyzing metrics.
2. Encourage Accountability
An important part of any organization's approach to enhancing customer service is to value accountability. If employees feel unaccountable, the quality will suffer as a result, and workers will expect management to fix problems without their involvement.
One way to encourage accountability is to engage your customer-facing teams with well-defined goals that improve their process when achieved. Give a department a goal and break it into smaller sub-goals that are owned by each team.
3. Track Customer Experience Metrics
It's difficult to improve quality when you only have anecdotal data or subjective impressions with which to measure it. The best way to track a call center's performance is to establish several key metrics that are easily measured and combine to give you a good picture of the experience and quality of customer support that it provides.
Consider a hosted call center solution that offers ways to collect and analyze customer experience data. The result can be greater customer and agent insights which improve customer service and customer satisfaction.
4. Give Regular Feedback to Your Customer Service Agents
Without feedback, individual customer service representatives only have their own experience and anecdotes from coworkers to judge the quality of their team's performance. A lack of regular feedback will also make them feel more isolated and work towards their own goals.
Feedback can give staff an understanding of the opportunities available to enhance customer service. It's important to give your agents feedback and transparent communication through regular meetings, process improvement reports, and timely performance reviews. For agents that telecommute or are separated by long distances, use VoIP Services like video conferencing to provide feedback.
5. Get Your Customers Involved
Often customer experience can be improved by finding new ways to interact with your customers or making existing interactions more personal.
Modern AI-driven technologies make it possible to add a personal touch to your customer relationships by sending holiday and birthday celebrations, using their names and personal data in communications, and by logging their interaction history for agents to access on the phone.
6. Review Your Call Center Scripts
Customer call scripts are often necessary to ensure a consistent customer experience in a call center handling a large volume of interactions, but they can be the bane of making a personal connection with callers.
If customers are indicated that their experience isn't up to their expectations, consider whether your scripts are too inflexible or executed in a way that implies to the customer that a script is being read. If so, think of ways to make the scripts more personalized, natural, and flexible.
7. Create a Customer-Centered Brand
A positive, customer-centered culture doesn't need to stay an internal asset of your business. Integrate the core values that make your culture compelling and unique into your marketing campaigns. You can improve your customer interactions by communicating your commitment to service through your brand.
Customers will be more willing to reach out and take advantage of your service channels to get positive resolutions to issues they might not bring to your attention otherwise.
8. Integrate Social Media into Your Service Channels
Social media has been embraced by customers of all ages, making it a channel of interaction that businesses are expected to provide. Yet studies such as the one conducted by thinkJar and Sword Ciboodle have shown that only about 60% of businesses have moved some aspect of customer service to Twitter or Facebook.
Adding these channels to your process will let your customers know you have your finger on the pulse of current trends and make contacting you more convenient for many of them.
9. Focus Customer Service on Brand Image
An intangible result of a company's customer service is making good on the promises its brand makes. Poor customer service, therefore, damages your brand and causes customers to leave for your competitors. It's imperative, then, that you make sure your representatives understand the importance of their work to the company's long-term success.
Use measurable metrics to demonstrate the connection between brand perceptions and customer experience when you need to convince skeptics who doubt the need to focus on customer service.
10. Define a Customer Service Culture
Identifying customer service as a core value of your business's culture creates a natural driver of support in its internal politics. By securing buy-in from upper management and fashioning processes that focus on customer service, you'll ensure that your customer's experience is considered a priority. Follow up these measures with a commitment to continual customer service improvement to maintain and enhance service quality.
11. Use Training to Reinforce a Customer Service Culture
One way a business's culture degrades and changes over time is through the natural erosion caused by senior employees leaving and new employees replacing them.
New hire orientation and ongoing training are the two most effective tools you have to maintain the core values of your culture in the long-term and improve customer service. By extension, they're also the main tools you have in your kit to ensure that customer service remains a core value of your culture in everyday practice.
12. Find the CRM Software That Fits Your Process
Technology is an integral part of business processes, but often companies will let legacy software dictate their processes rather than the other way around. This can result in your agents being hobbled by a set of outdated or poorly integrated applications. The Customer Relationship Management software market has continued to advance competitively, so there's sure to be a platform that's the right fit for your process.
Today's business environment requires customer service departments to integrate closely with other essential units like sales and marketing to create a complete customer experience package. By following some of these ideas that we've outlined above, your organization can achieve the quality of customer service needed to succeed.