It’s hard enough just to get new customers, and it’s even more difficult to retain them.
The key is customer service.
According to the Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 97% of consumers worldwide said that customer service is a significant factor in their choice of brands, and 62% of customers have stopped using a brand because of poor customer service.
There are thousands of articles on the web about how to improve customer service, but most of the advice out there is pretty much just common sense. It takes a lot of digging to find truly helpful insight.
Who has time for that? It’s crazy to expect you to read through hours and hours of material when you’re already busy, so we did the grunt work for you. After reviewing a glut of content on this subject from the most reputable of sources, including SurkeyMonkey and Kissmetrics and Forbes and more, the following five customer service tips stand out as the absolutely most helpful:
#1 Exceed Your Customer’s Expectations
When a boxer throws a punch, they don’t aim at their opponent, not exactly. They aim through their opponent, as if their fist was physically able to land in the space behind their target. This approach gives the punch more power.
Your business should follow the punch-through philosophy as well. The rise of the internet and globalization have made just about every industry much more competitive than it used to be. To retain customers in this hyper-competitive environment, it isn’t enough to simply meet the expectations of your customers. You have to exceed them.
“You cannot compete successfully against any competitors unless you can meet and exceed the prospective customer’s expectations based upon his or her current experiences,” says Michael Lewis, a retired corporate executive who created and sold ten companies in his career.
Let’s say one of your customers suddenly orders an immediate delivery after you have already scheduled your deliveries for the day.
It’d be reasonable for you to turn down a request like that on such short notice. But if it’s possible, you should make that delivery. The customer will always remember how you went above and beyond to help them. You’ll likely earn a customer for life.
Meeting a demand like that is all but impossible when you plan routes with pen and paper, but when you use fleet route planning software, it’s easy. You can see where your drivers are on the map in real-time. So when a last-minute order comes in, you can immediately see which driver is in the best position to improvise and make the delivery.
You can read Lewis’ full article here.
#2 Ensure Your Entire Team Is Committed to Improving Customer Experience
“While some departments are far removed for direct customer contact, every part of a business influences overall customer satisfaction,” said John Reh, a senior business executive with experience managing as many as 200 people.
It’s your job to improve customer service, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Every person in your business needs to be an important part of this mission.
Drivers are the face of your company in front of the customers. Make sure it’s a good face. Friendly, professional drivers will help convince customers to do more business with you.
Your dispatchers and operations managers should be completely committed to preventing deliveries from being delayed. They need to be aware of traffic conditions, and they need to be able to track drivers to make sure no time is wasted.
Planning routes manually takes so long that you don’t have much time to adjust for variables like weather and traffic, which can lead to late deliveries and irate customers. Route scheduling software makes it much easier for your drivers to be on time. It creates accurate, up to date routes in seconds.
This software will make your drivers happy as well, because they will no longer have to deal with frustratingly bad routes. When your employees are happy, they’re more likely to be friendly to customers.
You can read Reh’s full article here.
#3 Analyze Every Complaint
Complaints are inevitable. One downside to succeeding as a business and growing larger is that more customers means more complaints.
It’s easy to dismiss complaints in general, as sometimes they’re ridiculously petty, and other times it’s just not fun to hear someone talk about what you do wrong.
Ignoring complaints would be doing a great disservice to your company. You can learn more about how to improve your business from genuine customer complaints than any other resource. For this reason, you must study complaints, according to UP! Your Service founder Ron Kaufman.
Switching over from manual route planning to routing optimization software will make your drivers more reliable, thus putting an end to a lot of complaints.
Also, Route4Me’s geofencing technology allows you to see, in real time, when your driver arrives at a destination and how long they stay there. In the case of a customer complaining about a late delivery but the driver claiming they were actually on time, our software takes the guesswork out of figuring out what to do. You’ll know the truth.
Weeding our bad apples from your staff is sure to improve customer experience.
You can read Kaufman’s article here.
#4 Always Be Honest
“If you screw up, be willing to openly acknowledge it and take responsibility for it,” says Matthew Ackerson of PetoVer. “Always be real with people, and cut out the ‘robot act’. Show a genuine desire to improve, even if you’re already doing a good or great job in servicing them. Customers really appreciate that sort of interaction, especially when you show you understand them and actually give a darn.”
Sometimes you will face some unavoidable circumstances and there’s just not much you can do to immediately improve the situation. For example, one of your vehicles could suddenly break down in a remote area far from a customer’s location.
When it’s difficult for a driver to reach a destination on time and the customer asks for an ETA, don’t bend the truth to make the situation seem better than it is. False promises will hurt your credibility.
Route4Me’s vehicle route planning software makes it easy to estimate new delivery timelines when such circumstances come into play.
#5 Build a Broader Relationship with Your Customers
Not all customers are equal. Long-term customers will make you more money than short-term customers.
To get customers to stay long-term, you have to build strong relationships through consistently excellent customer service.
Excellent customer service involves more than just a speedy business transaction.
“If the only times you talk to a customer is when you’re getting paid or providing support, you won’t exactly be their favorite person,” says Tuesday Bram of Hyper Modern Consulting. “Creating a broader connection makes you someone that they’ll want to seek out. Something small, like forwarding a relevant article, can be enough to create a positive association, but keep your eyes out for bigger opportunities.”
Read this article by the Young Entrepreneur Council to learn more about improving customer experience.
What do you do to provide great customer service? Let us know in the comments section below.
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