Many companies view customer service as a reactive response to customer issues/problems. This is evident from history. Customer Service has always been about how to address customer complaints/issues. This is like closing a barn door after the horses are gone.
Anybody who works in customer service will tell you that dealing with unhappy customers can be a long and tiring job. The company’s problems will only grow exponentially if this continues day after day. If a customer has been through multiple service problems, they may become very unhappy customers who will eventually switch to your company. This can lead to lost revenue for your company and a negative reputation. This can also quickly exhaust your customer service staff. High turnover rates are a hallmark of customer service positions. Reactive customer service can lead to high turnover rates. This results in significant revenue loss due to the cost of replacing staff and the time and effort required to train new staff. It is difficult for every company to maintain a low turnover rate in customer service personnel. Many companies see this as a burden they must accept, or even as a cost to their business.
How would you reduce customer complaints, staff turnover, revenue growth (not decrease), and company resource costs by implementing a proactive service approach?
It is difficult to stand out from your competition in this day and age of so much competition. USA Today recently reported that CEOs believe that customers service is the best way for them to differentiate themselves from their competition, despite the fact that so many companies offer similar products and services at the same prices. You can differentiate your company by having a customer service program that is proactively focused.
Here are some Proactive Approaches you can use:
1) Prepare for your customers’ issues and/or needs
Your staff should compile a list with possible questions, concerns, and issues that clients may have. Instead of merely identifying solutions to customers’ problems, have your staff meet regularly to discuss new issues and ways to solve them.
2) Constant/Consistent Communication:
To show concern and genuine interest in your client, have your staff call them regularly. This will allow you to catch issues before they become more serious. Effective communication is essential to catch problems before they become more serious.
3) Apologize Immediately:
If a customer expresses or displays dissatisfaction with a product, apologize immediately. It does not mean that you should take all responsibility for the problem before acknowledging it to your company. You could have made a mistake on the part of another vendor or customer. Recognize their frustration and tell them that you are sorry for the inconvenience. It doesn’t matter if the issue is yours or that of another vendor, you will show them that you care about them and are a true partner. It’s incredible how many companies don’t teach their staff to apologize immediately. A quick apology can help to diffuse the anger of a customer who is unhappy.
4) Sometimes you must say “No”.
Some projects and customers are simply too big. Many salespeople and owners won’t say no to any job. You won’t be able serve your clients well if the job becomes too difficult. When you’re a young business or struggling, it is tempting to accept more work that will bring in more revenue. If you take on work that is not your strength, you’ll do more harm than good in the end.
5) Reward employees for outstanding service
Give them a quick reward and don’t wait for their appreciation. Customer service can sometimes be very stressful. Employees can suffer from long-term stress from unhappy customers. Managers should reward employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Managers should be on the lookout for signs of strain in their employees. Plan for breaks throughout the day. Have lighthearted distractions to distract them from the stress of dealing avec unhappy customers.
6) Empower your employees
Staff should be empowered to make decisions about customers before they deal with them. Allow them to make decisions the first time they hear about a customer’s issue. You can make sure staff doesn’t delay resolutions of customer complaints by not allowing higher-ups to authorize them to do so. Pass-offs fuel customers’ anger. Nordstrom’s has the best customer service stories. They give their employees total autonomy to make customers happy.
7) Compensation of your staff based on service level:
Your staff should be aware that their compensation will directly reflect the quality of customer service they provide. Encourage them to give the best possible service. However, they must also realize that poor service can not only affect their pay but also their job.
8) Hiring the right people and instilling the right message:
All things start with the right people. Hire someone who doesn’t relate well with others and lacks interpersonal skills. This is a recipe for disaster. To get a better understanding of your candidate’s ability to help others, you can administer personality tests. You must also make sure that anyone you hire will be in constant contact with customers. The company culture should place customer first.
9) Prepare for the unexpected
If it is too late to take action and the customer is already dissatisfied with your services, you should have as much information on them as possible before you meet. While you want to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, it is important that your staff have all relevant files and information about the client before they can address their problem. After you have collected all information about the client, you should be able to hit the ground running. Let the pain go.
Send surveys to customers regularly to get their opinions about the service. Continuously and proactively monitor their perception of your company.
A technology company gave me the opportunity to work with them and implemented a proactive customer care policy. In 1 ½ years time we reduced customer complaints 70%; reduced incoming calls from customers about 66%; and reduced staff man-hours from an average of 50-55 hours / week to an average of 40 hours / week. Because we went to our customers rather than waiting for them, the company was the industry leader.
Although a proactive approach does not guarantee satisfaction, it can help to reduce customer complaints and show customers that your company is customer-focused. Customers will view your company as more focused on their satisfaction if they see you. This may lead to customers being more loyal to your company over your competitor, and possibly more inclined to leave positive reviews of your company. You can give your company the benefit the doubt if an issue arises. It is best to have a positive past in order to create a positive future.
Your company may need proactive customer service to reach the next level.