For any small business in the service industry, having great customer service is the key to building lasting relationships with customers. And you can’t grow a business without your customers. Whether you’re selling your consulting, design, or financial services, your customers want to know that they are valued and that they’re also getting value from you. SurveyMonkey posted an article titled Why Customer Service Is Worth It explaining the value of excellent customer service. According to a survey they did of over 400 Americans, they found that 97% of people are likely to tell their friends, family, and co-workers about great customer service experiences. Word of mouth has a lot to do with the growth of your customers especially in service-based small businesses because so much of it is based on referrals. By making great customer service a top priority for your small business, you’ll have a better relationship with existing customers as well as a greater chance at getting more customers.
What sets apart “okay” from “awesome” customer service?
The biggest difference between mediocre and amazing customer service is that amazing customer service will result in people spreading the word about you and your small business. Communication skills and the ability to think quickly on your feet has a lot to do with this. In a service-based business, your goal is to help your customers. You need to listen to your customer and really understand what their problem is before you can help them. By understanding the root of your customer’s problem, you’re better able to resolve it in the most efficient way possible. Whether that’s figuring out the best way to brand their business for their target customer or coming up with the best financial plan to suit their needs.
Education also plays a big role in helping customers. Sometimes your customers don’t understand what they need. Sometimes they think they know what they need but are misinformed. That’s why it’s important to educate your customers wherever possible so they have additional understanding and clarity on the issue. Once you’ve got them on the same page as you, they trust you and there’s less resistance.
“Understanding the root of the question or problem can lead to the best resolution in the most effective way. Educating our client through the whole process adds confidence and better prepares our end users which ultimately makes a wonderful user experience.” says Carolyn, Marketcircle Customer Advocate.
Speed is another factor in providing top-notch customer service. You can have the best answer possible for a customer but if it takes too long for you to help them resolve their issue, they could easily move on to someone else.
“Providing excellent customer service is about being fast, responsive, and cutting through the bullshit to give people what they want. You don’t get there by wasting time asking unnecessary questions.” says Mat, Marketcircle Customer Service Manager.
On top of these key elements and the obvious factor (being qualified and properly trained) it’s important to have the emotional qualifications. People want to know that they’re being helped by a human. They want to know you understand their problem and actually care about helping to fix it.
“Empathy is huge for us and it’s one of our core values. You need to show empathy to customers when it’s warranted. Depending on the nature of the issue, people can get quite frustrated. When you’re upfront and honest with them, it helps get them on your side so you can resolve the problem. Customers need to trust you. That way they’re invested in you and will be willing to work with you to resolve the issue. You need to earn their trust by being real with them. Don’t be a douche.” – Mat, Marketcircle Customer Service Manager.
How do you measure great customer service?
When your customers express that they’re happy and they’re sending referrals your way, you know you’re doing something right. For some small businesses, that’s the main thing. But if you’re looking to attach a value to your customer service to see how you measure up, your NPS Score (Net Promoter Score) is a good place to start. In order to calculate this, you’ll need to survey your customers. At Marketcircle, we send out a survey to each customer that submits a support ticket. We ask each customer a few questions. If the timeliness of their first response was satisfactory, the overall level of the service received, whether or not they felt the agent was knowledgable enough to answer the question, and how likely they are to recommend our product/services to someone else. By ranking us on a scale of 0-10, we calculate our Net Promoter Score.
An article by Inc titled What’s Your Net Promoter Score explains how to do this calculation. They also state in the article that anything above 15% is considered above average and a score of 50% or more is considered “World Class”. Here at Marketcircle, we’re proud to say that we have achieved and maintain a steady score of 58%, which is World Class.
Improving Customer Service
Whether you’re measuring specific statistics for your customer service or just going by the general feedback you hear from customers, it’s important to share that feedback. There are going to be moments when the feedback isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. That’s okay. But don’t ignore this. Use it as a chance to understand new areas where you can improve. We do this by reaching out to anyone who gives us a low score on the customer service survey to gain feedback on how we can improve. Sometimes it turns out it was just a misunderstanding or they’re disappointed in a feature we don’t offer. This can still be used as positive feedback so we can learn how to improve. Share both the good and the bad feedback with your team. When people are doing a great job, let them know. It will inspire them to keep doing great things.
“We regularly share feedback from customers with our whole team. It helps boost morale and gets people motivated about continuing to do a great job. I do this for each teammate individually and as a group. It’s important to feel equally motivated. Sometimes they try to act nonchalant or shy about it, but I know it’s helping them to feel better about their input in the team.”- Mat, Marketcircle Customer Service Manager.