No matter your industry, quality customer service has become a major differentiating factor for businesses. If your customer service team is not up to snuff, your company will be hemorrhaging revenue.
To be honest, quality customer service is not complicated. Essentially, your customers need to embrace theses mantras:
- Be humble
- Be helpful
- Be friendly
- Be knowledgeable
- Be thoughtful
- Be useful
- Be timely
- Every customer-facing employee is a part of customer service
- Ask for the Review!
Your HR and Executive team are responsible for bringing the right people on board. They’re also accountable for training, supporting, educating and informing their staff.
In this article, we’re going to reverse-engineering some great reviews in order to illuminate 9 hacks that will impress your customers, have them returning to your business in droves, and influence them to drive new business your way via word-of-mouth and 5 star online reviews.
1. Be Humble and Don’t Make Your Customers Feel Dumb
James sounds like a pretty amazing guy, and he’s developed quite the relationship with George, going from broker to friend. While we may not have the same type of connection with our customers, we can aspire to be like James. Not only did he answer ‘every stupid question,’ he did so with humility.
Many of your customers come to your business with a complete lack of knowledge. Sure, they may have done research on their own, but they expect your employees to be the expert.
When your support team has been on board for a while, and they hear the same simple questions day in and out, a glazed over eye roll is understandable. But the true gems of the customer service world take those FAQs and explain them in a way that doesn’t make the customer feel like a child.
That humility and respect will go a long way in the eyes of your customer, especially if they already are insecure about working with your business.
2. Be Helpful Instead of Pitching the Sale
Honestly, while we try to have a sense of how our audience finds us and ultimately become customers, the buyer’s journey is never the same for different people. As a business owner, you need to respect that a potential customer might think they’re ready, but after consulting with you, realize they haven’t considered a variety of components that might inform their decision.
Even if they have this realization early in their interactions with your team, it’s essential to be as helpful and transparent as possible. People appreciate when customer service reps don’t lay on the hard sell from the get-go. If your prospect isn’t ready, and you don’t pressure them prematurely, they will return to you when the time is right.
Karl of Flores Landscaping was ready to help guide his prospect on her time table and as they developed Amy’s vision together, Karl earned Amy’s trust based on his expertise and thoughtfulness. I’m sure Karl’s suggestion to reuse Amy’s concrete slabs and save her money was the icing on the cake.
3. Be Friendly and Surprise Your Customers
Some businesses benefit from making their customers feel like family. When your business model includes routine check-ups or frequent repeat customers, get to know them! I always appreciate when the baristas at my local coffee shop greet me by name or already know my normal drink. Taking the time to ask your customers about their lives (in a non-invasive way) will help them feel like family when they’re at your store.
In the dental industry, you wouldn’t expect people to be this excited for their routine visits, but Charlie’s experiences at Lee Dental Clinic stand out, because not only did he connect with his Dentist on a personal level, but the little giveaways were a useful and clever delight.
4. Be Knowledgeable and Educate Your Employees
If you’re working in an industry where the stakes for your prospective customers are high (like law), and they’re considerably undereducated on the matter, your expertise on the subject is essential. Not only being able to empathize with your client but also educating them on their problem will set you apart from the competition.
Sometimes, the potential client will have attempted to research their situation on their own (WebMD set off any alarms?) and come to you thinking that they’re knowledgeable on the subject. It’s important in these scenarios to know your field inside and out with evidence that you can turn to so you can reveal why the prospect came to you in the first place.
5. Be Thoughtful and Solve Problems
Mistakes happen. You’ll never see a business without a negative review because no matter how informed your customer service team and leadership are, the unexpected happens, and it’s your responsibility to be able to handle the curveballs they’re thrown.
While it’s important to have policies in place to protect the bottom line, having managers or customer service reps who can make exceptions to save a bad customer experience is paramount. Not only will these exceptional cases protect your customers from a disappointing encounter with your company, but it will help your employees save face and avoid the dreaded, “That’s our policy.” company line.
Even if the situation loses you money in the short run, you will possibly see a larger return in the long run. A satisfied customer will sing your praises when you turn a bad experience around in a timely fashion and offer (what the customer considers) a fair solution.
6. Be Useful – Have Vetted Recommended Vendors
Whether you’re an events planner, a home services provider, a hotel, or any local business, knowing the local businesses that surround your location can vaunt you as a dependable and valuable asset to your customers. When you’re able to recommend complementary vendors to your clients, you’ll save them time and money.
Make sure that you vet the companies that you recommend. The last thing you want is to send one of your customers to an unorganized and incompetent business. That’s an easy way to make your customers hate you. Good vendor recommendation builds trust with your clients.
Hard as it may be, sometimes your services are not the right fit for a particular prospect. While it sounds scary to recommend a competitor, it’s the right move. You may lose that one customer to your competitor, but the next time they have a friend who is a perfect fit for your service, a recommendation is practically inevitable.
7. Be timely – Even at Inconvenient Times
Sometimes, your free advice alone can earn a positive review! In the case of Chanel, she reached out to George expecting to pay a fee simply for the advice he provided. Combine the free advice with the timely manner of George’s reply, late at night nonetheless, and you can see why he earned a customer for life.
8. Everyone Who Interacts with Customers is Customer Service
Yes, you have a dedicated staff to customer support, but that doesn’t mean they are the only employees providing support to your customers and clients. Remember that EVERY employee that interacts with clients face to face has the responsibility to maintain the same level of customer service as your dedicated reps. As you can see, the reviewer above had a positive interaction with everyone at the hospital, from the employees dedicated to checking in on her to the Wound Care nurses, to the maintenance staff.
Sometimes, just one negative touch point can ruin an experience. If you have employees that are sullen, argumentative, or just plain sour, keep them out of the way of customers! Not everyone is a people person, but social skills are imperative for any client-facing role, no matter how small.
9. And Don’t Forget to Ask for the Review!
Finally, while it may seem awkward, always remember to ask for the review. Make sure your customer service managers ingrain this important request in their teams’ heads.
Who should be asking for the review? Always have the employee with the most personal relationship do the asking. I can practically guarantee that whenever you see a review mentioning an employee by name, that employee politely requested the client leave the review. If they had a good experience, many times they will go an take the time to review your company. But the Ask is essential.
Automating the review ask can be effective, but remember that if you’re automating, you need to compensate with as much personalization as possible. Most clients aren’t idiots, they’ll know when the request is genuine.
The selected reviews in this post represent the best types of reviews you can get. As you can see, all of them name the person that helped them, revealing the personal connection that was developed. The reviews aren’t novel length, making them consumable by other people researching your company.
They all share a personal story that adds to the credibility of the review. The ones that show how they solved a problem are even more valuable, since customers tend to hope for the best and expect the worst. Being a friendly, helpful, problem solver can sometimes be more important than the actual service or product you sell!
And always remember, EVERY employee that interacts with customers needs to have the same mindset, training, and support as your dedicated customer service representative. Employ these hacks and your positive reviews will explode.
Len is the owner and Creative Director of Quiet City Design, a full-stack media marketing company based in Toronto, Canada. He is passionate about helping his clients leverage the internet to improve business online and offline. Those methods include website development and digital marketing as well as online review reputation management and online scheduling and appointment booking platforms for local business owners.