Poor customer service is the leading cause of customer attrition. According to the American Management Association (AMA), 68 percent of customers who leave a business relationship with a company do so because of poor customer service.
90% of lost shoppers don't try to get in touch with the company to explain what happened, and worst of all, a dissatisfied customer tells 16 people about his dissatisfaction. The satisfied one, on the other hand, only spreads his experience to five other individuals. According to Tom Peters, it costs US$10 to replace US$1 of a lost one.
Mistakes to Avoid in Customer Service
- Not having staff trained for customer service. These staff must be prepared to attend them, handle complaints and key moments in the interaction with them.
- Trying to win the argument or discussion. Remember the phrase "customers are always right". You should not pretend that it is the company that wins the argument.
- The service must be totally accessible to them, hiding it or making it difficult to reach it is a mistake.
- Taking refuge in the company's policies. This is similar to the error in point 2.
- Not keeping promises. If you promise something, you must keep it.
- Poor record keeping. Your data must be adequate, and if there are errors, you must correct them immediately. If you make a mistake in the delivery to a customer or in your invoice, it can spoil the relationship.
- Avoid taking unnecessary steps to reach customer service.
- Emails are impersonal, they prefer the email/call combination.
- Not listening. Listen to your customers.
Best practices to implement in customer service
- Help staff understand the importance of good service.
Employees often think that an occasional lapse in service will have no major consequences. According to recent surveys, 92 percent of general managers say that service quality is the key to success; branch managers, on the other hand, rank it below other objectives, such as short-term financial results.
One of the best ways to align staff priorities with those of the company is to lead by example, such as:
- Demonstrating an open and friendly attitude: top management should be professional and caring at the same time.
- Being helpful: managers should be proactive in dealing with their staff. It is important to immediately warn when an employee is dissatisfied, to prevent the dissatisfaction from spreading to customers.
- Give 110 percent automatically: Employees expect their requests to be addressed, but managers could go further by providing a prompt response to concerns and offering additional help.
- Know your customers rather than assume what they are like.
Research and data reveal their needs and attitudes. But this is no substitute for personal contact. There are three effective measures that help maintain personal contact:
- When dealing with your customers, whether in person or on the phone, ask them if they wouldn't mind answering a few questions that will help you better understand their needs. It's a more personal way to survey them, replacing mailed forms.
- Send a personalized newsletter (the newsletter or "monthly news" we implement with my Business Coaching clients) to your current and former clients, and you'll reach out to make them feel special.
- When a customer complaints, employees try to do everything they can to resolve the problem. To make the response make a better impression, ask a superior to call you and apologize as well; it's a way to tell them the company appreciates them.
Personal and proactive communications (the power of three).
The key to customer relationship management is to figure out how to establish personal contact with each customer. The "power of three" is a technique based on following up with three buyers per day, and writing them a thank you note. The goal is to plant the seed that shows people that the company values their business relationship. Some examples that work very well are:
- If a customer is dissatisfied, even though the company proceeded correctly, send them a letter of apology.
- If a customer helped solve a problem, write them a note acknowledging their cooperation and thanking them for their patience.
- If you lose a customer, send him a letter admitting that he was right; tell him that the company will miss the business relationship, and that you hope to resume it in the future.
What actions will you take in your business, and in your life, in this regard?