In today’s world of instant gratification, same-day deliveries and machine learning-powered chatbots, customers are coming to expect more of the brands they give their money to. Companies who disappoint their customers may find themselves with a slew of nasty online comments and reviews for all the world to see – which can have a detrimental effect on your public image and whether new potential clients are willing to trust you.

Offering truly exceptional service, however – thereby getting positive online reviews and building relationships with your customers who can spread the word about you – is a sure-fire way to stand out from your competition. Here’s how you do it.    

Listen

Whether it’s feedback from an online survey, a complaint or concern via email, or a disgruntled customer on the phone, negative (or positive) feedback is always an opportunity to do better. Make sure you get to the heart of the complaint, identify areas you could have done better, and implement a strategy which will guarantee it never happens again.  

Help your customers help themselves

It’s not possible for you to be available in person 24/7. If investing in advanced AI or a chatbot is beyond your budget or simply not appropriate for your product or service, let your website do the talking outside of office hours. Put time into creating a valuable, user-friendly knowledge base your customers and potential clients can access whenever they need them.

This could be comprehensive info and tutorials on your website explaining step by step how to use your products, videos on your YouTube channel, an in-depth FAQ – or ideally all of the above! When a customer makes a purchase, make sure they receive an automated thank you email which includes links to all these resources. This way, if they can’t get you on the phone because it’s 10pm on a Sunday, they can help themselves. A courtesy follow-up a few days after purchase to find out if they’re happy with the product or need any assistance can also go a long way.    

Make sure your employees receive adequate training and know who to contact if they need assistance

If critical company software or hardware breaks down while you’re in an important meeting on the other side of town with your phone off on Friday afternoon, do your employees know what number to call for immediate IT help desk support? Or are your customers going to be left hanging until you get back to the office – or worse – until Monday morning? Training is about more than knowing the basics of performing the duties required of you – it’s also about having the confidence to take initiative when need be, especially when it affects your paying customers.

Respond to all queries promptly

One of the reasons small businesses are discouraged from having too many social media accounts is the risk of missing a potentially important customer query or complaint. And because these kinds of enquiries are usually public, other potential customers may start to wonder why you haven’t responded – or if you even care. Social media monitoring tools can be a great help, alerting you when people are talking about your brand – even if it’s not on your own page.

Making sure phone calls and emails are answered quickly simply makes good business sense – so make sure you have the resources to do so, whether that means hiring additional staff or outsourcing.

Admit to your mistakes and take action to remedy them

If there’s one thing a frustrated customer doesn’t need, it’s excuses. Never pass the buck, even if it genuinely isn’t your fault! Apologize, reassure the customer that they’re valued and that you’ll do everything you can to solve their problem, and take immediate action to do so. If the complaint has been made publicly, dealing with it publicly and transparently and turning the interaction into a positive may even be better than trying to move the conversation behind the scenes. Check out some of these brands who got it very, very right!  

Be proactive if something outside of your control means customers are going to experience problems

Whether it’s a supplier who’s let you down or an issue with your delivery service which means orders are going to arrive late, keep your customers in the loop. Reaching out before people start complaining and taking ownership is always better.  

Blow your own trumpet

If you’ve had a positive interaction with a customer, use it! Publish positive feedback, reviews and testimonials on your website (with the customer’s permission, of course) and thank them for their kind words on your social media profiles.  

Under-promise, over-deliver

Never make promises you can’t keep, but rather surprise your customers with a product or service that is even better than they anticipated. These are the kind of interactions that lead to glowing online reviews and customer loyalty.

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