It isn’t what you sell that makes customers pick you over the competition, it’s what you’re known for. Your brand. What your brand represents sets you apart from the crowd.
Many companies have a strong brand attached to them. Zappos, the billion-dollar shoe store, is known for its customer service. Their customer centric culture drives their growth in unprecedented ways.
Here are five ways to incorporate customer service into your brand.
Start from Day One
Great customer service shouldn’t be an afterthought and isn’t something you should be putting off for later. It is as important for your business as your core competencies, for without customers there is no business.
Also, customer service isn’t something that can be delegated to a single department and the rest of the company can go on ignoring it. The entire company needs to participate in the process in some way, starting from the top. Only if the top management is serious about customer service will the effects trickle down to the rest of the company.
Personalize Customer Service
People resonate well to personal gestures made by a companies. The fact that you took the time out to write a note or send them a birthday card yourself makes them feel important and fosters loyalty in them.
— melanie morris (@melaniemorris) July 8, 2015
This gesture adds a human touch to the otherwise mechanical transaction and builds customer loyalty. Even though it’s hard to scale, personalizing a customer’s experience its worth its weight in gold.
Even though customer service is usually dealt with as a passive process, the benefits of actively engaging customers are huge. This means that instead of waiting for them to reach out to you, you must anticipate any problems your customer may face and deal with them beforehand.
In fact, according to a survey, 87% customers wished that they were contacted more proactively by companies. These customer service calls actually left a positive impression on the minds of the customers, and lead them to take action on said positive impression.
Although it shouldn’t be your top priority (genuinely helping customers should be), but reaching out to customers also provides an excellent opportunity for you to upsell other products and services too. Win-win.
Streamline the Support Process
According to a research, not even 25% of customers bring forth their problems because the support process is too much of a hassle. This leads to a large hole in your customer service process, since the people who need help won’t even ask for it.
Streamline the process of asking for help as much as you can. In fact, your first priority should be to avoid wasting customer (and company) time by providing some form of self-service.
By providing a forum or something as simple as FAQs, you can give customers with a way to solve their own problems. You should also go out of your way to make it clear that you and the company are available to help anytime needed.
In the case that your customer does need your help, the turnaround time should be small. As many as 42% of customers expect a response to their query within the hour. 57% expect the same kind of response time at night and on weekends.
In fact, when asked what made their support experience good, the reason most cited by customers was not the outcome (which stood at 47%). It was, in fact, a quick response time (69%). This gives us a very important insight. We see it doesn’t really matter what it is you respond, as long as you’re responding quickly.
A key takeaway from this is that if there’s a problem you haven’t solved yet, don’t avoid communication with the customer. Instead, the first chance you get tell them that you’re working on it and that they can expect the problem to be resolved soon. This will have nearly the same effect of solving the problem quickly.
Bonus Tip: Make it public
A trick to being known for great customer service is making your efforts public, for all to see. Only when your efforts get noticed in the world will your brand be established.
Doing this mainly revolves around using social media effectively. You could do you customer support on Twitter (@NikeSupport is a great example), or reach out to (or even feature) customers on your blog.
Since the barrier of communication is much lower on social media and people are usually more comfortable using them than, say, your home-grown support tool you get the advantage of streamlining your support process too.
Incorporating these features in your customer support will help customers recognize you for great quality of service. But remember, no amount of service is going to do you good if your product is subpar.
With a good balance of good product and good service, you can outshine competitors with ease.