Why Customer Service Still Needs Improvement

Measure Your Customer Experience

In a world where one day you’re in and the next day you’re out, you would expect companies to be doing everything they can to attract new customers and retain those who are loyal. But a 2018 study by sales-and-service-solutions company NewVoiceMedia found that businesses were losing 75 billion dollars a year because their customer service wasn’t good enough, up from $62 billion in losses the year before. So why is this happening? Why are businesses not more focused on customer service?

Let’s think about customer service in the most basic form: an outstanding customer-service experience is one where your customers walk away or hang up believing that you genuinely care about them. They understand that you value their relationship with your company. The same NewVoiceMedia study confirms that 86% of people are more likely to stay a customer if they feel a positive emotional connection with you.

Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that the individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.

Poor customer service is just the opposite. When customers believe that you don’t care, that you’re uninterested or they’re just another number to you, they will ultimately say they had a bad experience. The negative impact can be detrimental to your business. According to a 2018 study by Microsoft, 61% of consumers stop doing business with a company after a poor customer experience.

If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently implements the following rules:

Answer Your Phone

The first rule of good customer service is that your phone needs to be answered. Customers don’t want to leave a message or be placed on hold for an eternity waiting to speak to a live person. We live in an age of “now” and customers want answers now. And when the phone is answered they want to be embraced by a welcoming and understanding person, so courteous phone skills are a must. Which leads to the next rule…

Train Your Staff

Train your employees to always be helpful, polite, and knowledgeable. Talk to your staff about good customer service and what you should/shouldn’t do. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at…”

Listen to Your Customers

What’s more frustrating than explaining your problem to someone only to be transferred and have to go through it again? Listen to what you customers say, write down their issue in detail, and then try to solve the problem. If you can’t help them, find someone who can. But don’t make them explain it over and over. This will only lead to a frustrated customer who will more than likely have a negative experience.

Deal With Complaints

No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. While this is true, it’s important to give the complaint your attention, so you can please this one person this one time – and reap the benefits of good customer service. Let complaints become opportunities, where you can discover issues and correct them. Market research has found that customers who have complained about a product or service and had that complaint successfully dealt with are 70% likely to order from the vendor again. That’s staggering!

Be Helpful by Taking the Extra Step

If someone walks into your store and asks you where to find something, don’t just say, “It’s in Aisle 3”. Why don’t you say, “Let me show you” and lead the customer to the item. Even better, wait and see if they have questions about it, or further needs. Always be thinking about the extra step if you want to provide good customer service. While it may seem unnoticed, customers will remember your effort and tell other people, leading to more referrals.

Throw In Something Extra

Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a bonus for a referral, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And the gesture doesn’t have to be large to be effective. Think about your product or service and find something extra that you can offer to customers. 

Reward Customers for Staying Loyal

By increasing your customer retention rate by just 5%, you can improve your profits by 25-95%. Use email lists or apps to provide discounts or exclusive deals to loyal customers. For example, Disney offers individual character meet-and-greet sessions only to their Visa cardholders. Macy’s progressively gives greater discounts based on the total money spent over time. Geisinger Health System offers a refund for customers not happy with their care. Give customers a reason to stay loyal. The longer they stay, the more likely they will be to give good reviews and referrals. These tips will lead to excellent service, greater loyalty, and higher profits.

Things that Really Annoy your Customers

(What not to do)

Social media can be your greatest asset and your biggest downfall. Do it right and you can gain new followers, create loyal customers, and successfully grow your brand. But a few missteps and you can turn away potential customers.

If you get your approach wrong, it can quickly destroy your social reputation. Once your brand’s reputation is damaged, it is very difficult to rectify. And with so much online competition just a click away, it’s extremely easy for consumers to find another brand to fill their needs if you turn them off with the way you use social media, by your tone, or how you post.

So let’s start with why people follow certain brands on social media:

  1. They are interested in a product or service
  2. They are offered incentives
  3. They are interested in promotions
  4. They find the social media profile entertaining
  5. They wish to communicate with a brand
  6. Their friends or family follow the brand

And why people unfollow brands on social media:

  1. Too many promotions
  2. Too much tweeting/posting
  3. Irrelevant content
  4. Inappropriate use of jargon or slang that doesn’t comply with brand identity
  5. Erratic posting
  6. Failure to reply to comments /messages

(Source: sproutsocial)

So what social behaviors are most annoying to consumers? Here’s what to avoid:

1. Poor grammar and spelling

Poor spelling and grammar are the top most annoying things to social media users as a whole, according to market research. (A close second is the abundance of memes or political cartoons that have no place on a business social media account). It is way too easy to use spell check or hire a professional editor to check your posts before publishing them to make sure everything is correct. Your business page needs to reflect your brand identity, which should always reflect professionalism and attention to detail.

2. Begging for likes

If you are too focused on getting likes for your page you will lose credibility with followers. Social media should be used to engage with your target audience – not to boost your own ego with how many likes you have. Instead of blatantly asking for likes, shares, and comments, provide content that encourages your audiences to engage and gets them excited about being included in the conversation.

3. Improper hashtag use

Some people really love the hashtag – the more they can squeeze into a single post the better. But when it comes to any business profile on social media, you need to use hashtags wisely and appropriately. Use a limited number per post – two or three at most – and make them count. Only use hashtags that are appropriate to your business, industry, or individual post.

4. Ignoring criticism

No matter how great your company is, at some point in time you will receive negative feedback. It may not be deserved, but you should never ignore it. Always respond calmly, concisely, and offer to take the issue to a private forum such as a phone call, email, or direct message. Be polite and non-reactive – you need to be proactive, even in the face of negativity that is completely undeserved.

And address criticism quickly. The longer you wait to address complaints, the angrier the customer becomes. 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews. Read reactions thoroughly, respond quickly, and defuse the situation before it becomes a major deal. 

5. Posting too often

There’s a fine line between maintain an active presence on social media and completely overwhelming your audience.

Too many posts can be aggravating to the point that customers “unfollow” you or simply result in your posts becoming lost in your followers’ newsfeeds. Be aware that not every single follower will see every post. You should post to Facebook once per day – twice at most – during times when you have analyzed that your posts get the most response. This is critical!

6. Having a bad website

Every interaction a consumer has with your business counts…whether that is on social media, in a brick and mortar store, or on your website. 

For the 64% of you who have a website, remember that this may be the first impression someone has of your business? If they have a poor user experience, chances are they will not follow you on social media or become a loyal customer. The site should look professional and clean, include a menu so users can easily find the information they are looking for, and have links to your social media accounts.

The majority of website visitors (55%) spend less than 15 seconds on a page before bouncing. Make sure your website is worth the extra time.

A few other things to avoid….

  1. Liking your own posts
  2. Being spammy
  3. Following everyone who follows you
  4. Relying 100% on automation

On social media consumers are looking for deeper connections with the brands they choose. They take time out of their day to read your posts, watch your videos, and like and share your content. When done properly, social media marketing can create loyal brand ambassadors that will increase the growth and success of your company.

So work mindfully to make sure you avoid the above mentioned social media mistakes.

5 Ways to Mystery Shop B2B

B2B mystery shopping

B2B Mystery Shopping To Improve Your Business

A bit more complicated than typical mystery shopping, but definitely beneficial.

Traditional mystery shopping in the business-to-consumer (B2C) model is pretty straight-forward. Mystery shoppers are sent in to a business or retail location with specific tasks and questions to answer about their experience.

Business-to-business (B2B) mystery shopping works in the same manner, with the one exception being that customers, or mystery shoppers, will pose as companies or customers calling to inquire about your services and products.

B2B mystery shopping is one way you can make sure you stay focused on delivering great customer experiences every time and also allows your business to determine baselines and pinpoint areas for improvement. You can evaluate staff performance, review processes and procedures, and ensure your brand reputation is solid.

Understanding your customer’s journey in a B2B environment takes a little more creativity. Here are a few ideas on how to approach being a mystery shopper of your own B2B organization.

1. Evaluate the Call Process.

Find out what it’s like to call in as an actual customer and ask questions: What is it you do? What types of products/services do you offer? What happens if I have a problem/issue arise? What is your return policy? (if applicable)
It’s amazing how many inbound sales departments are totally unprepared for this line of questions. And you can experience what it feels like to be an actual customer.

This also gives insight into whether your employees are upselling/cross-selling other products or services offered by your company that may be important to the customer.

2. Use the web contact form to inquire about products or services.

Is the form easy to fill out? Does it cover the pertinent information? How quickly do you hear from someone? Is the form confirmation written in a robot voice? Lots of areas to consider here!

3. Ask typical questions of the sales person.

You probably know what questions get asked the most, so go ahead and ask them. Email the salesperson back and ask random questions. Ask what happens if you want to add a service in the middle of the contract. Ask about price. Ask the difficult questions salespeople hate and see what happens.

4. Sign up for the free product trial.

If a trial is typically offered, go for it. See what it’s like to sign up, use the product, call support and then either end the trial or not. Pay attention to how many emails and calls you get. Pay attention to if the product trial lives up to the marketing hype.

5. Ask other customers.

Check out forums or communities and ask about others’ experiences. Pay attention to what they say doesn’t work. Or call a few current customers and ask them. What’s working? What’s not? Tell me what can be improved and what works well.

The best way to get a truly outside-in perspective, however, is to ask someone from the outside to do it. You’ll get honest feedback and find holes in your process easy to ignore on the outside. But any form of mystery shopping is better than none. Take a step and examine what experience you’re really delivering to your business customers.

mystery shopping

​Furthermore, fictitious accounts and companies can be created to pose as current customers to evaluate the service ordering process. From here, you can see if your employees are attempting to upsell/cross sell, offering additional products/services that are important to your customers, and the general service levels provided.