Technology has made helping customers easier and faster. It’s given them options in how they want to be contacted and helped. But, in many cases, it has also decreased face-to-face contact. Patients get information through health care portals. Bank customers deposit checks from their phone. Grocery shoppers go through the speedy self-check lane.
Many of your customers never encounter those smiling employees you have at the front desk or in your customer care department. But, as a consumer yourself, you know that when there’s a problem or the company you’re doing business with makes a mistake, you expect a speedy and fair resolution.
Every business makes mistakes. Customers know this. For the most part, good customer care doesn’t mean never making a mistake. It’s how you respond when you make a mistake that matters to most customers.
Admitting mistakes is never out of style. Neither is adjusting to customers’ needs quickly. Following are several ways to wow your customers.
- Give them choices in how they connect with you. It’s true. Businesses have many different ways to communicate with customers. And many of us are using all of them. But the important question: What form of communication does your customer prefer? Don’t inundate them with marketing information—coupons and offers—they don’t want … in communication forms they rarely check. Daily email coupons and reminders will have customers quickly redirecting your barrage to their spam folder. Six automated voicemails reminding a customer that their prescription needs filling is probably four too many. That goes for complaints as well, suggests businessnewsdaily.com. “When a customer reaches out to you via email, it needs to be solved via email. Asking a customer to switch their preferred method of communication is taking your customer out of their comfort zone and should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.” Customers don’t want to repeat themselves when they’re asked to call customer service after they message you on Facebook.
- Let them easily get in touch with you … or help themselves if they choose. Customers want instant answers and they’re used to searching for them online. Make answers easy to find. Of course, this should not be in lieu of making a human being easily accessible—with equally easy-to-find contact information. Develop a FAQ page for your searching customers. (Do test it before setting it lose on them.) Be sure to keep any customer service portals up to date with the latest information. Depending on your business, a monitored, peer-to-peer forum could be helpful—enabling customers to help each other.
- Stay visible with customers. How can you engage with customers after they’ve made a purchase? Consider partnering with brands that offer complimentary services or develop tech products that can enhance your customers’ experiences, suggests entrepreneur.com. Also consider using “old-school” advertising methods. According to a recent forbes.com article, TV messages have a 60 percent “recollected reach” (the percentage of total population reached who recall a campaign). Digital media is the lowest at about 30 percent. “While brands may assume that digital media is better because it gets people to engage better and the message can be broadcast to a more specific target group, our research found that purchase intent increases with multiple exposures to different types of media—not digital alone.”
- Reward them for loyalty and referrals. Create meaningful incentives. Percentages off their next purchase aren’t usually meaningful. But what if you give them a gift card … Often dollar amounts rather than percentage-off offers give customers a greater incentive. Learn the microeconomics of individual customer behavior, suggests Bain Insights for forbes.com. Build highly targeted loyalty campaigns that are easy to use or join. Do use an opt-in process (rather than automatically including them) to help build awareness of the program and ensure that it helps change buying behavior. The best rewards programs “must identify the best potential customers, treat them better and based on their feedback, make relevant offers that raise their loyalty and lifetime value.”
- Include them in your marketing. Make satisfied customers brand ambassadors by letting them voice their experience. Spotlight a customer’s endorsement on social media, suggests evergage.com. If your business uses customer surveys, find willing advocates by including the questions: “How likely are you to refer us to a friend?” and “Why did you give us that rating?” Then follow up with them. Considering writing a blog post about their experience with your product. Could they have dinner with your CEO? Give them a voice in improving your product. Think of their purchase as an ongoing experience rather than one sale.
Despite technological advances, human interaction is still at the heart of customer service. Do take full advantage of the technology to customize … and to offer easier ways for customers to get answers and reach you. Use the technology to find your customers—happy and unhappy—and talk with them individually using the technology and method they choose … remembering to always make interaction easy for the customer.