The Importance of an Outstanding Customer Service
If you own any type of business, customer service should always be your top priority.
Neglecting this fundamental aspect will result in less customers.
And less customers means less profitability.
Every business should take extremely good care of all their clients, irrelevant of how difficult they might be.
In fact, more often than not, dealing properly and efficiently with difficult customers will show your true customer service capabilities.
Customer service incorporates both customer care and after-sales service.
You might think that they mean the same thing.
Actually, no - there are differences depending on the circumstances.
Customer care involves your interaction with the clients from the first time you start dealing with them. This could be a face-to-face interaction, via e-mail, etc.
Therefore, an excellent customer service should start from day one. And it should continue even if your potential client still hasn't made any purchases from your company.
As the name implies, after-sales service is more related to the continuous attention that you should give your customers after they've made a purchase or used your services.
Needless to say, customer care comes into play here as well but in a slightly different role.
What do we mean by 'different role'?
No - we don't mean that you should treat acquired customers better than prospective ones.
You should treat all customers the same - both acquired and potential.
But, because you've managed to acquire a new client, after-sales service and customer care should come natural. It should be slightly easier given that you managed to close a deal and therefore, you know the client better than prospective ones.
On the other hand, the type of customer care that you offer to potential customers is a bit more difficult and it requires more patience.
You have to work a bit harder to turn them into active customers.
We are going to repeat it - both acquired and potential customers should be treated exactly the same.
Both should be provided with a second to none customer service.
The only tiny difference is that, like we said, customer care with regard to prospective clients tends to be slightly more demanding since you're still getting to know your clients in the process.
Let us start by explaining the importance of providing an outstanding customer service. Later on we will give you some tips as well.
Why Customer Service is So Important?
Well, for starters, it makes your clients happy! Is there anything more important than this?
You should always do your utmost to keep your clients happy ... or better, very happy.
Happy customers means more business - they will keep coming back to you for whatever they need and that you can provide them, they will bring their families and friends to your business by means of word of mouth, and they will speak highly of your business all the time.
Now, isn't that a free advert going around?!
We're not saying that you should keep clients happy only because it's good for your business. In our opinion, seeing a customer happy is one of the most wonderful satisfactions.
Because it means that you did your job to perfection and by doing so, you managed to help your customer. And a satisfied customer is always a happy customer.
Obviously, keeping clients happy will also help your business. Meaning, both parties will benefit - the customers and your business.
Another important aspect of having an outstanding customer service is the fact that it shows your customers that you care about them and their problem or concern.
It shows that you don't consider them just another 'money generator'.
This way, they will see you more like a personal friend or a relative rather than simply someone trying to sell products or services.
We will provide a real-life example to help you understand better.
Recently, one of our clients went to buy a product from a local shop and, given that this person didn't know how to set it up, asked the sales representative to provide a brief explanation. Just the basic steps - not a lecture. The sales representative informed this person that, to receive this general set-up explanation, a €10 fee must be paid!! Naturally, the offer was refused.
Do you think this is a good example of customer care?
Of course not!
It is quite clear that this shop doesn't care for its clients! All they see is their money.
Why are we saying this?
Well, because it's obvious - no?
A client wants to buy something, asks for assistance on how to use it and he/she is asked to pay a fee for an explanation which will merely take 5 - 10 minutes maximum!
That's "daylight robbery"!
Isn't it evident that the shop in our example is only interested in money?
Do you think that this customer went out of the shop happy?
We can assure you that the answer is no! And, most probably, this person will never set foot in this particular shop again.
In our opinion, this is a typical example of greediness. For an extra €10, this business has just lost a client and maybe even more.
Remember - word of mouth is powerful in a negative way as well, not just in a positive way.
An excellent customer service is when the sales representative, gladly and without hesitation, assists the customer in everything that he/she needs to know in relation to the product being purchased, irrelevant if it's purchased or not.
And with "assists" we don't mean give information about the product only.
No - it means that, if the client asks how to set it up, configure it, etc., you do it there and then without asking for extra money!
Try it .... and you will notice how big the customer's smile is. Meaning, a completely satisfied and happy customer of course.
Now ... this is a perfect example of an impeccable customer service!
Using this type of customer care attitude will benefit your business in the long run, not just today or tomorrow.
The shop we mentioned in our example may gain an extra €10 from one or two purchases for showing clients how to set up a product but, in most cases, they've lost them (and their families and friends) for good.
On the other hand, helping your clients without asking for extra money means that you've won them now and for the foreseeable future.
This way, you will show them that you care and in return, they will care for your business.
By staying loyal to your company - they will keep returning and they will tell others what an outstanding customer service you provide. Therefore, you will not just gain an extra €10 but much, much more!
One of the biggest achievements which we at Digico are extremely pride of is the fact that we have a large number of returning customers. Most of our customers have stayed loyal to us for the past 25 years.
Because we have always cared for each one of them.
We have always provided a unique customer service that makes our customers happy and satisfied.
Still with us?
Good ... let's move on to some advice.
Tips to Follow In Order to Provide an Exceptional Customer Service
Always smile when greeting customers.
Even if you're having a bad day, smile.
Even if you're speaking on the phone with them, smile.
Research has shown that, if you smile while talking on the phone, the person at the other end will sense your positivity.
So remember - smile!
Always be polite to your clients, irrelevant of how difficult they may be.
Stay calm in every situation and treat them with kindness.
If you think you can't handle a particular client, ask another colleague to take over.
Remember - the customer is always right, even though they might not be in certain situations.
A business depends on its customers - losing them will cost you, badly.
Always provide your best attention to all clients and never ignore them.
Don't keep them waiting - if you're with other clients, inform them that you'll be with them shortly. This way, they will feel important and not neglected.
If a client sends you an e-mail, reply the earliest possible - ideally, within a few minutes or an hour maximum. Don't just leave it there with the intention of replying later in the day or the next.
The same concept applies to messages or comments received via your company's social media pages.
Show them that you care!
Always pay attention to what your clients are saying and never get distracted.
It's extremely important that you focus completely on what your clients' needs are so that you can help them more efficiently.
Give them time to speak and never stop them half-way.
Keep in mind this quote by Epictetus: "We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason - we should listen twice as much as we talk." You should follow this rule all the time if you want to offer an excellent customer service.
Always show competency.
It plays a big role in a good customer experience.
To be competent, you must have a strong knowledge of the company and its products, as well as the ability to solve the customers' problems.
Always keep your promises.
Never promise clients that you will call them back or send them an e-mail and then you forget. This shows that you're careless and that, frankly, you don't give a damn!
If you forget because you're usually very busy, take a note or set up a reminder so that you remember.
If hours or days have passed and you still don't have the information that the client needs, call to keep him/her updated.
Never leave them in the dark.
Always be proactive.
This suggestion is similar to the above but in a different context.
For example, if you provide servicing and repairs, do not leave the equipment for a very long time at your workshop without working on it.
If you're very busy with other repairs, inform the client beforehand that he/she has to wait for a while. Yes, they may opt to go somewhere else if they need it urgently ... but they will appreciate your honesty and will come back another time for sure.
If you can't keep working on it because you're waiting for parts, reach out to your customers and explain the situation instead of making them wonder. They may not be happy that they have to wait, but will be thankful that you kept them in the loop.
Being proactive also reinforces the idea that your company is responsible and trustworthy.
Always schedule a follow-up with your clients.
Following up is very important, both for acquired and prospective customers.
If you closed a deal, and therefore you have acquired a new customer, you should call him/her to check whether he/she is satisfied with the purchase/s made or service/s provided. It goes without saying that this falls under the after-sales service category.
If, on the other hand, you provided a quotation or business proposal to a potential client and you still haven't received any feedback, call him/her to check whether he/she requires any clarifications and if he/she is still interested in your products and/or services. At this point, it would also be a good idea to try and close the deal by offering him/her a substantial discount, for example. As you may have noticed, this is part of customer care for prospective clients.
Ideally, you should allow between 1 and 2 weeks for a follow-up.
By following up you are showing your customers that, once again, you care, and they will totally appreciate it - rest assured about it!
Do not use jargon when speaking to clients.
Not all customers are technical in your field or industry. And, in most cases, you wouldn't know if they are or not from the first time you speak to them.
Therefore, play it safe.
Explain yourself in the easiest way possible by using a language that is understood by everyone and try to avoid technical words that certain clients might not understand.
Always keep it simple!
Start practising these tips or educate your employees to follow them all the time, and we can assure you that you will continuously provide a totally awesome customer service.
In his Infographic, Why Do Consumers Break up with Brands?, Dyfed Loesche of Statista states the following: "The customer is king and as such can be hard on any brand or company that doesn't fulfil his/her expectations to the fullest."
We couldn't agree more!
According to a new report by SAP Hybris, 71% of respondents worldwide said they would break up with brands because of an unresponsive customer service.
It's the second most acute reason customers terminate their relations with a brand, with the top reason being the usage of consumer data without consent (80%).
Do you see now how important customer service is?
As we have seen in this Blog Post, and as you are aware, customer service is extremely important to any business.
If you deal with clients, customer service should always - we repeat, always - be your top priority.
Irrespective of the type of client - from the smallest to the biggest one. There should never be a distinction.
And, like we explained, customer service should start from your very first interaction with clients - most commonly known as customer care.
Then, if you manage to acquire your potential customer by closing the deal, after-sales service kicks in along with customer care.
Although customer care and after-sales service are sometimes used interchangeably - and, as we mentioned earlier, they have slightly different functions depending on the situation - they both constitute customer service.
Without a doubt, the type of customer service that we explained in this Blog should be the customer service that every business should always aspire to, in order to be successful.
Does your business give high importance to customer service?
Are there any other customer service tips not mentioned in this Blog that you use regularly?
And, finally, a question for customers: Do you think that, in general, most businesses in Malta provide a good or bad customer service?
Share your experiences with us by commenting below!