If you’re a small business owner, you probably know how important it is to provide stellar customer service. Stellar customer service can help you stand out from your competition while also making your customers more likely to recommend your offering to friends and family.
Recently I walked into a hotel in Miami and went to the concierge, looking for reservations for one night.
“Do you have any vacancies available for tonight?” I asked the lady at the front desk. Barely looking up at me, she said, “ No, we’re sold out.”
As one does, I pushed the matter slightly further and asked, “ Is there anything you can do for me? It’s only for a night–which room doesn’t matter.”
Her response shocked me: “No…That’s what ‘SOLD OUT’ means,” as though the English language had temporarily been erased from my memory.
A vehement TripAdvisor review of the terrible experience ensued: “Ouch. Unnecessary and completely disrespectful. 0 out of 5 stars for this hotel.” While the negative review didn’t give me any peace of mind, it would surely benefit others looking to stay there but didn’t know what they were getting into.
This is how easy it is to tarnish a brand’s image today. Internet reviews are the new word of mouth, which, combined with the old form, can make or break a brand’s reputation. But, in 2021, customers want the whole package–not only the product but also the service surrounding it, whether it’s in-store pre-purchase or six months later when the item needs to be repaired.
When your brand is dealing with customers, it is essential that each one is satisfied with the service provided–a good review is helpful, but a bad review can have a snowball effect.
So here are a few ways you can train your employees to provide stellar customer service:
Treat ‘Em With a Smile
A smile can go a long way in welcoming new or returning customers to your brand. Let them know that you are glad they chose your brand and that you are dedicated to making them have the best possible buying experience. You might say that this will apply to in-person sales and service, but in reality, there are digital equivalents of good customer service.
For example, if you’re a food delivery app and the middle man between your customer and the restaurant, your customer support agents and delivery drivers are the key to securing this customer’s loyalty. By providing prompt online support to a client who hasn’t received his meal and ensuring they get reimbursed appropriately through a refund or with credits in case of any accidents, you can ensure your customer experiences are positive.
No Demand is Too Big
The old adage “client is king” still rings true today. Customer expectations are sky-high, and a buyer can just as quickly go to the next shop to get what they need.
If a client asks for a specific product that’s not in-store or completely out of stock–provide them with appropriate alternatives and support them while they evaluate those options. Even if they don’t end up making a purchase, your friendly demeanor could mean they come back later.
Don’t Oversell Your Brand
A common error among employees is pushing too hard to enforce the brand onto customers. Instead of overwhelming confused customers by showing them multiple options from which they can’t decide, allow them to take their time to evaluate the offerings. When there is a need to help them narrow down on options, your expertise will be considered valuable.
Even in the digital space, it is easy to overwhelm customers. Using hyper-marketing tactics such as targeted ads and pop-ups may increase awareness of your brand, but sometimes in ways that could frustrate users. It is essential to grow your brand over time, not only through paid media but also earned media models such as testimonials and reviews.
A brand that failed to maintain a healthy balance between these two was Aeropostale, which eventually fell out of favor. This failure was also because the brand focused heavily on promotions such as discounts and its campaigns were in-your-face, leaving customers wanting to buy products, but only when they were on sale. Here, we see that the marketing campaigns were focused on increasing market share by skimming prices and offering attractive deals, but this changed the brand’s perception as a cheap alternative for casual clothing rather than a place for serious, lifestyle shopping.
Contact With Customer
One of the good customer service hallmarks is ensuring the customer never feels helpless if the offering fails to serve its expected purpose. Ensuring that their experience post-purchase is up to the mark increases the chances of returning in the future. By providing them with support information and following up on their experience with the product through email or otherwise, a brand can build loyalty and trust.
Make efforts such as post-purchase emails thanking customers for their business and offering them other deals on future purchases; you can maintain touch with your customer base and ensure that they always consider you as an option.
Members of the sales team need to present the brand and its offerings in the best possible light. This does not mean that you burden the customer with information readily available online but provide them with in-depth knowledge about the product they are considering.
Invest time in learning about the various products available, and it will become much easier to match a product to a customer and make recommendations based on their needs. An employee who knows too much is better than an employee who doesn’t know the difference between products.
For a founder, it is, of course, essential to develop expertise in what you’re selling. But one needs to instill in their teammates a sense of ownership regarding the product as well. By incentivizing them based on weekly sales numbers and providing them with discounts on the same products for personal use, you can ensure that your employees get enough time with the product to talk with first-hand experience about the quality of the product. You can also do this while on-boarding employees and during their initial training.
While this may be time-consuming initially and in vain for short-term employees, it is beneficial in the long run. It allows your customers to feel the same association with the products as your employees do. This comes with practice and is all the more rewarding when the customer is satisfied with the service.
Customer service can make or break your brand’s reputation. By spending your resources developing an efficient customer support protocol, you can shine the light for your brand to focus on other aspects, such as capitalizing on market share and improving the offerings, knowing that your employees will be your ambassadors.