Customer service may not seem like the most glamorous element of starting and building your own business, but it’s certainly one of the most important. From day one, the way you interact and build relationships with your customers has an enormous effect on their loyalty and your reputation.
Companies like Apple and Amazon are known for their exceptional customer service, and it’s often this fact that keeps customers coming back; this is one of the reasons they remain so successful.
So take a leaf from the book of those who got it right. Good customer service isn’t rocket science. Neither does it have to be time and labour intensive or require the multi-million dollar budgets of those large global companies. Dare I say it, interacting with your customers can even be fun.
Below are five simple and low cost ways to deliver great customer service.
Successful start-ups recognise early on that customers are at the core of their business and should be treated with respect.
If a customer contacts you they want you to respond quickly, sympathetically and effectively. That’s what drives high customer satisfaction.
Once you understand the value of customer service and look at it as an integral part of your business, you’re already on your way.
Responding to customers as quickly as possible is vital. Customer service experiences are more often than not judged on the timeliness of the interaction rather than the final outcome.
You don’t necessarily need an immediate solution but you do need to acknowledge that you are working on it. If dealing with the enquiry takes longer than originally thought, it’s a good idea to keep your customer updated so they aren’t left wondering or feel compelled to chase you.
Keep a note or have a system that means customers only have to explain their question or problem once, even if they have to be passed to a colleague or someone else in the team to resolve the issue. There is little more frustrating for customers than having to explain their problem multiple times.
Another good idea is to keep a record of past interactions with your customers. Customers will be pleased that you remember them and it can also help you identify any potential ongoing problems early on and take steps to fix them before they become bigger issues.
4. Social media
Gone are the days of simply having a customer care line connected to a call centre. Customers expect to be able to connect with you on the medium they prefer – whether that’s the more traditional phone, website and email enquiries, or through the increasing use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media tools.
Offering customer service through the channels that your customers want to use, rather than the channels you want to use, can be an excellent way to deliver great customer service.
Embracing social media as a means to connect with your customers can also be hugely beneficial in building your reputation and influencing potential new customers. A great interaction or service experience will often be shared by the customer quickly and positively through their chosen medium.
5. Cloud technology
Today’s cloud computing tools offer advanced technology and functionality for start-ups that can be introduced simply and quickly, often for minimal commitment and upfront cost.
Cloud computing tools are also perfectly suited to smartphones and tablets, which means all elements of your business, including customer service, can be managed from anywhere.
Cloud-based customer service software can help start-ups and small businesses have all support requests go through one place, irrespective of whether they’ve come in through the website, Twitter, phone or elsewhere. Queries can also be handled from mobile devices, so you can respond to customer queries while you are away from your desk or outside office hours.
The key for start-ups is, like those large-scale successful enterprises, to adopt a mindset that says customer service is a profit centre in your business. These simple tips will help you to deliver first class customer service that exceeds expectations and turns your customers into advocates for what you have to offer.
Michael Folmer Hansen is vice president and Asia Pacific managing director at proven cloud-based customer service software provider, Zendesk. www.zendesk.com