Marketers often talk about building good relationships with your customers, especially those that have the most value to your business. But customer service (CS) is often overlooked during that conversation. But if you’re not using your CS to improve your customer sentiment, you’re missing a huge opportunity.
Why are Good Relationships with Customers Important?
Customers know what they want, and they’re willing to leave if they don’t get it. We all know that getting the customer experience right is critical for a brand. But that doesn’t just include the traditional buying journey; it includes every interaction your customer has with you. Every social media post, every marketing email, every chat. They all help to build a rapport with your customer.
The better your relationship with a customer, the more likely they are to spend more money with your brand. When given personalised, VIP service from a brand, 49% of customers went on to make an impulse purchase from them. And, it cost far more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one. If you’d like to learn more, you can read our blog here on the benefits of having a VIP list.
How to Improve Your Customer Experience Through Your Customer Service
Meet Customer Expectations
Nothing you do to try to boost customer sentiment will matter if your CS isn’t meeting expectations. If your service is a cake, your customer’s expectations should be the sponge; if it’s wrong, no amount of icing is going to make it better.
You need to make sure your response times are fast enough, your tone of voice is consistent, you’re offering the right channels, and providing sufficient self-service options. Start by looking for the industry standards and focus on beating those. For example, 39% of customers expect a response on social media within just 60 minutes. And only 32% of customers are happy with how fast a brand responded on social media.
You should also consider surveying your own customers. What they want from your brand may not necessarily match the industry standards. You can do this through automation by conducting a customer sentiment analysis. The analysis will help you understand how your customers feel about your products and services, and give you an idea of how to improve. But remember, never sacrifice one goal for another. It’s all about achieving balance.
On top of that, you must make sure your agent knowledge is up to scratch. At FM Outsource, we provide regular refresher training and use software that includes knowledge bases and pop-up notes where necessary. But it has to go further than that. You have to give your team agency.
It can be difficult to manage a customer service team for fear of someone saying something wrong. We’ve all seen the car crashes that can happen when an agent goes rogue. But you can’t have your managers holding the reins all the time, or your service will feel flat and robotic.
If you provide your advisors with the right training and set them up for success, you can allow them to make their own decisions when necessary. This helps to make each interaction feel unique to the customer and gives your advisors more pride in their own work. A happy team makes for a happy customer.
Personalise Your Service
Tailoring your service to individual customers is a great way to improve the customer experience. It’s the icing on your cake, glueing your service together and making it more desirable.
It can start with really easy brownie points: use the customer’s name. By using their name, you’re telling the customer that you’re focused on their details. You’re not just treating them like a number. It’s a simple act and it won’t change the customer experience significantly. But you can bet that a customer will notice when you don’t call them by their name.
To get into personalising further, we’re going to touch again on advisor agency. During a difficult chat, an advisor should be empowered to not only make their own choices but to offer sufficient compensation when appropriate. Your advisors should be able to give small refunds and goodwill gestures, with items of a certain value still going to your management team. Even just something small like a refund and a free gift can make all the difference to a customer who is currently disappointed in your product or service.
Lastly, to be able to truly personalise your service, you need to be aware of the customer’s history with the brand. There’s little point in sending a customer a free gift of eyeshadow if they’ve never purchased makeup from you before.
According to Stastica, 65% of consumers will use product recommendations to decide what to buy. And, similarly, your advisor needs to know every previous conversation they’ve had about the current query, regardless of time or channel. This is where the right software can really help. To read more about how to personalise your customer service offering, check out our blog.
Engage with Customers Pro-Actively
Customer engagement is the cherry on your cake, that extra mile that really helps finish it off. If you’re serious about improving customer loyalty, you have to get pro-active. By the time a customer contacts you, something has already gone wrong. But CS doesn’t have to always be reactionary.
Start by making sure you’re answering all public posts, not just the private interactions. This is mostly applicable to social media where customers might engage with your brand in any number of ways. They might ask a question about a new product on an advertisement. Or they might post something to your page, such as a photo or question. Dedicate time to answering all of these.
Not only do you answer a customer’s query and improving sentiment, you’re also advertising your fantastic service to potential customers. 90% of people use customer service as a factor before purchasing from a company, so public responses are a great opportunity to convince new customers to buy.
On top of public posts, you should also be answering all reviews – both negative and positive. At FM Outsource, we consider review sites to be their own channel. It’s crucial that you answer negative reviews so you don’t miss any chance to turn around a disappointed customer.
You may find that these customers either didn’t contact customer support, or had trouble doing so. By answering their reviews, you can solve their problems and offer appropriate reparations. You can also identify pain-points in the customer journey and improve upon them.
But, you should also be answering positive reviews, especially the most glowing ones. These are some of your most satisfied and, therefore, most valuable customers. By indicating that you both saw their review and appreciate it, you help build a personal relationship between the brand and the customer. If you’re able to make them feel appreciated – or even reward them for their positive actions – you may find them shopping with you far more in the future.
If you’re having trouble receiving reviews in the first place, don’t hesitate to ask for them! Sending follow-up messages or emails is part of the pro-active customer service journey. Often, this task can be completed by automation, freeing up your team to focus on the customers.
These are just some of the ways you can use your customer service to improve sentiment for your brand. There are many more out there and we encourage you to get creative with it. It’s very easy for customer service to become stuffy and dull, for brands to focus on more exciting parts of the customer journey. But CS is critical to retaining customers and keeping them happy. If you’d like to chat more about how you could improve your brand sentiment with customer service, get in contact with us today.