Dedication and selflessness are the two pillars that every successful customer-centric business is built on. A lot has changed since Walmart and Nordstrom introduced the famous (and equally infamous) customer-is-always-right approach. However, you need to turn this approach into a mindset that powers every part of your business to cultivate a customer-centric culture.
Today we live in a world where customers have off-the-charts choice in almost every market niche. The moment they feel they’re being taken for granted by your business, they’ll move on to a better alternative.
Even though you may have to conquer mountains of expectations and slay dragons in your quest to please customers, you will never fail in the path to ultimate customer satisfaction if you’re committed to knowing who your customers are and understanding what they need.
This means turning every customer interaction into an opportunity for excellence. Here are six things you can do to rally your business around customers and put customer service at the center of everything you do.
1. Pamper and dazzle your customers
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had a great quote about customer service: “Customer service is like throwing a party. You throw the party for your guests. You do not throw the party for yourself. When you do it for yourself, it is a completely different party.”
You can only earn customer loyalty when you commit to winning over the hearts of your customers — not their wallets. According to a customer service experience study by McKinsey, 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
Be as selfless as you can in helping your customers with their business and celebrate their milestones like you would celebrate your own. Never stop searching for opportunities. For consumers, surprise them with a birthday email. For business customers, congratulate them on that last round of funding; offer free consultation sessions, product giveaways, or other great exclusive offers as incentives to accelerate the bonding process further. Don’t forget that your customers’ success translates into your own.
And once you start treating your customers like family, they will be a lot more inclined to be the writers of your success story as well.
2. Involve every employee
If you want to run a customer-centric company, you need to make sure everyone driving your company is proactively interacting with customers. Although technical and product training are vital for your employees, reinforcing the “people side” of the business will have huge gains in the long run.
By training and motivating every employee in your business to consistently engage in some degree of customer service, you can bring in a whole new level of synergy in company decision-making. That’s because when everyone interacts with customers at some level, they can translate this experience into essential learnings for improved processes and product levels.
The best way to initiate your employees into this healthy practice is by making it part of the onboarding process itself. This cultivates a unanimous and empathetic perspective on customer service right from the start — and you can keep this fire going by incentivizing your workforce for helping with customer support with rewards and prizes.
3. Build a 360-degree customer view
“Customer Service is everything and anything that touches a customer — directly or indirectly,” says Joseph Jaffe, Founder at Evol8tion. “Customer service is part of a holistic customer experience that is capable of providing a critical competitive advantage in today’s increasingly cluttered and commoditized marketplace.”
It doesn’t matter how many touch points you have, it’s vital to connect all of your support channels and apps that customers interact with. No customer wants to be sold a product they recently purchased, or learn that there’s no record of something they contacted your company about last week. Whether it’s email, a native app, your customer support channel, or Twitter, a singular 360-degree view of the customer should enable all employees touching a customer to be in the know about customers and respond in the most productive way. This will automatically improve the customer experience from a more holistic point.
A robust cloud-based solution that aggregates key sales insights and support metrics is the perfect tool to align your customer service objectives across all platforms.
4. Find the right technology to power personalization
Sophisticated technology is undoubtedly the grand architect of global connectivity. Unfortunately, many businesses have let personalized touch fall flat on its face in favor of scripted, one-size-fits-all responses when it comes to customer interactions.
“Creating a personalized dialogue with the customer has become critical,” said Leyla Seka, senior VP and general manager of Desk.com. “This makes it easy for the customer agent to interact in a localized way.” She emphasizes intelligent customer data analysis and improved location-specific retargeting that are now widely available to companies, regardless of size.
By implementing a customer support solution that integrates customer interaction data from every touch, your team can conveniently tap into customer profiles at the click of a button and craft meaningful responses that engage them on a personal level.
These profiles can include customer interaction data like product purchase history, incomplete transactions, service reviews, and more — and are truly priceless because every engagement gives you deeper insights into the minds of your customers and helps you build a loyal following.
Ideally, you should seek out a solution that allows automating repetitive tasks to free up more agents for engaging in more personalized interactions — such as signing their name to communications. There’s few things that can improve a relationship more than a customer knowing there’s a “real person” on the other end that genuinely wants to reach out or resolve an issue.
5. Use feedback to strengthen your business
Customer feedback is the key to nailing the elusive product-market fit challenge. Thousands of ambitious startups and established brands have taken a beating simply because they built a product no one cared about by taking customer service feedback for granted.
The success of your product is directly dependant on how it connects with your customers and solves their problems. Therefore, you need to track and analyze all support cases to capture valuable insights for improving your product.
If you really want to dive deep into leveraging customer experience effectively, you should get your support team involved in all company meetings since they can offer a clear and candid perspective on customer interactions. And share those with others who will impact future actions and decisions.
By categorizing and tagging each customer interaction in detail, you can instantly pinpoint the hits and misses in your product and work on eliminating the latter more efficiently.
6. Make support a seamless experience
Technology has super-powered customer support services by offering a wide choice in communication channels. According to an online shopping customer service report by eConsultancy, the most popular channels used for customer support are:
- Phone (61%)
- Email (60%)
- Live Chat (57%)
- Online knowledge base (51%)
- “Click-to-call” support automation (34%).
However, the report highlighted the fact that customers did not appreciate the divide between the core product website and customer service experience. It’s essential to bridge this gap by delivering support through the most efficient channels to customers at the right time.
It’s no surprise that customer-centric companies like Amazon have started adding “SOS buttons” to products such as Kindle Fire to enable customers to reach them instantaneously. Even something as simple as building in support links to product pages on your website can reduce frustration and simplify the customer support experience for customers.
And with the increase in connected products that are capable of initiating their own service tickets, companies will be alerted through sensors often before the customer recognizes there’s even an issue. The days of real-time resolution are right around the corner.