People often assume that customer service is a" Support function in a company, no sales function. Every time customers call your customer service representatives, this is an opportunity to hold or lose a customer. Your customer service team is at the forefront of building customer relationships – not just answering routine calls or answering worldly questions.
Many companies miss the opportunity to maximize the potential of their customer service team. With some additional training and a shift in focus, you can help your customer service team create more value for the company by improving customer relationships, improving customer loyalty, and driving new sales.
Here are some simple strategies to improve customer loyalty with your daily customer service interactions:
Instead of asking customers simple yes-no questions, train your customer service representatives to ask open questions. Ask your customers things like:
Be curious. Be prepared for customers to say more than you expected. And above all, listen! Customer conversations can be an excellent source of competitive information. For example, a routine customer service call can tell you that your largest competitor is conducting new product tests, or that a new competitor is entering your market, or that the competitor whom you have barely beaten for a large order has one of your favorites accounts.
If you hear the same complaints and problems from multiple customers, you may get the insight to identify high-priority opportunities to make changes in your company's processes, or even get ideas for new products and services. Customer service is not just about solving everyday problems, it's also about learning more about your customers' attitudes, doing market research, conducting customer satisfaction surveys, and staying on top of the industry.
A common cause of customer frustration is calling customer service and feeling that there is no one who can actually help them solve their problem. Sometimes people need more help. Not every front-line customer service representative needs to be empowered to issue refunds or offer complex solutions, but at least know how to write down the customer's name and number and promise to be called back by a manager until the end of the day.
If one of your customers calls for help and gets nowhere, it may be the last time you hear from them. To prevent this, invest in your customer service team by developing robust training programs, incentivizing excellence and always emphasizing the importance of the work done in your customer service department. Encourage your customer service team to think critically and find creative ways to go beyond.