The story about Amazon and the PlayStation will warm your heart. It’s also a great model for your company to follow.
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
According to a study by the Resilience Institute, the ingredients needed to achieve excellence include focus, optimism, presence, decisiveness, purpose, fulfillment, value alignments, vitality, bounce, sufficient sleep and assertiveness.
So, what if we take these findings and apply them to the business sector? After all, these 11 ingredients of excellence are associated with the most successful entrepreneurs. Yet, while there are a lot of other key factors contributing to a successful business, one that stands out, in particular, is the ability to provide excellent customer service.
What companies need aren’t customers who buy once and then disappear. Thriving companies are built on the basis of satisfying customers to the extent that they keep coming back. They go the extra mile to establish that kind of customer loyalty.
What’s in it for you?
According to Forbes, poor customer service is making businesses lose more than $ 75 billion a year. This means that something as simple as not appreciating your customers, not answering support emails or putting customers on hold for an unreasonable length of time could cost you thousands, or even millions of dollars each year.
On the flip side, companies that are sensitive to their customers' needs, record millions of dollars as profit. Actually, a PwC survey revealed that customers polled said they wouldn't mind paying 16 percent more just for better customer service. That goes to show just how much people prefer being valued over just receiving the product or service they paid for.
Accenture Strategy’s Global Consumer Pulse research, meanwhile, showed that 52 percent of consumers surveyed said they'd switched providers due to poor customer service. What that means, in essence, is that quality customer service is one of the major ways to turn prospects into repeat customers. Keep it consistent and you'll have customers hooked on your brand.
Strategies to improve your customer service delivery
A lot of companies are under the delusion that they're providing excellent customer service when they actually are not. A Customer Service Benchmark report revealed that while 80 percent of businesses it contacted believed they offered excellent customer service, only 8 percent of their customers agreed that that was true.
Of course, no two companies are the same. But successful companies do have a lot in common in terms of providing the best kind of service, and they are based on the following four strategies.
1. Get to know your customers.
The bedrock of providing excellent customer service is developing a close relationship with your customers. Knowing your customers gives you the opportunity to provide them with personalized treatment.
To know your customers, you may have to conduct surveys, relate with them via your social media presence, ask them questions, listen to them and seek to understand them — not make assumptions. When you make this extra effort to serve your customers better, they will come back.
2. Fix your mistakes.
Customer service mistakes, like overpromising and under-delivering, can be costly mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, but at times when you or your customer service reps make a mistake, it’s important to make amends as quickly as possible.
The aim is to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction at all times. Even when you’re not directly at fault, sometimes it’s good to step in to fix the problem just for the sake of ensuring that your customers are happy and your company’s reputation is protected.
For example, in 2007, Amazon stepped in to help a customer whose package had disappeared after his neighbor received the package on his behalf. The customer had ordered a PlayStation for Christmas for his son.
Amazon's customer service people had nothing to do with the package's disappearance but took it upon themselves to give the father a whole new PlayStation and not ask for extra shipping charges. You can bet that that gesture probably turned the happy dad into a repeat customer.
3. Be thoughtful.
People prefer to deal with companies that are more human. A company that shows care and genuine concern for its customers ispowerful. Consumers love feeling special and appreciate the effort companies put in to make them feel that way.
Thoughtful gestures like remembering a customer’s name, sending thank you notes along with the order or celebrating a customer's birthday may seem simple or even insignificant, but they can endear your company to your client.
4. Respond to inquiries quickly.
According to research by Frost Consulting, a research company, 41 percent of consumers surveyed said that being put on hold is one of their biggest frustrations. And, to be honest, that statistic was probably just scratching the surface because nobody likes being put on hold.
In fact, according to statistics provided on the Fonolo blog, 82 percent of customers in one survey said that how quickly a company resolves their problems dictates whether such a company provides good customer service or not. Consumers value the speed of delivery just as much as they value having their products or services in one piece.