Ever heard anyone (or yourself) say they were so dissatisfied with a product or service that they took to Twitter to complain? Don't be that brand.
Because customer service is so vital to a healthy business, we sat down with our own head of CS, Jenny Pratt, to get the lowdown on what it takes to keep consumers happy. 😇
Tag, you're it, customer service!
Think about it for a sec. Customer service or success (whichever jargon you've coined for your company) is the one thing that can make the difference between your business being broke or woke. Obviously no one wants the fate of the former, so listen very carefully (or read, rather) if you've had challenges with CS in the past: it's time to change your ways because you could be driving your biz to the ground.
You see, customer service is crucial and those that don't prioritize it are doing themselves a big disservice by not going above and beyond for who's keeping them afloat. Here are a few key ways in which it can give you a leg-up:
- It will lead people to associate a positive sentiment with your brand.
- It creates loyalty and recurring business.
- It encourages word-of-mouth advocacy.
All winning things that you aspire to for your brand, surely. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't take much for businesses to provide great customer service, which also happens to be an amazing brand driver. There's no way that not deploying extra resources to bolster your CS strategy outweighs the business you would keep and gain by doing so.
We know that it can be considered secondary for a lot of established brands that think they can't take a hit with mediocre assistance on a help line, but let us all learn something from Millennial mega-brand Glossier—its gTeam is there to add value, not provide a robotic safety net. Results: happy and loyal consumers that keep coming back for more, and voluntarily relay their positive feelings about the company to their peers, helping to convert more customers.
Whether you're offering a service or a product, the same idea prevails if your bottom line depends on a clientele. If your CS department's been leaving something to be desired and you're not sure how to go about rectifying that, keep reading. We enlisted the help of our very own Jenny Pratt, senior director of customer success here at Dash Hudson, to impart her wisdom.
Below she spills on why customer support is so important, and how to leverage that strategy to beef up brand sentiment, and subsequently, boost business.
Be the horse to Liam Neeson.
1. We're All Humans (Surprise!)
The people who buy your products are not robots, so why would you act like one—or worse, have them as reps? There's a reason why corporations get a bad rap: most entities have lost that human sensibility, aka our most powerful common denominator: compassion. It's easier for small companies to be high-touch, but it's worth the investment for all enterprises to ensure repeat business and growth.
Jenny mentions that connecting with individuals is more important than ever in today's market because while "it's easy to set up automation systems that take care of feedback and questions, what consumers want is authenticity." A huge buzzword that actually has great meaning. How many times have you received programmed email replies from representatives or been on the line with a voice recording, feeling frustrated and appalled? Once is too many times.
"With so much happening with AI technology right now, I think I speak for most people when I say that I can sense a robot vs a human," Jenny continues, "and that the latter is forever more pleasant." Point taken, being genuine is priceless.
2. Be Available, Gracious, and Consistent
There are two major points to customer service: making people feel valued and amending your mistakes. "There are basic no-nos like being slow to respond, being inconsistent, and the dreaded misspelling of names," says Jenny. But it's also important to not back anyone into a corner, where they don't feel good about how things are being handled. Any sort of forceful entrapment will lead people to feel negatively about your brand.
When letting things slide, like exceptionally amending a return policy or giving someone a store credit or discount for their trouble, "the chances of the customer returning or referring you to a friend are higher," states Jenny. You'll always please people by being available, understanding, and flexible.
3. Provide Value
The role of a customer service department revolves around the consumer, and therefore should focus its entire raison d'être on that. CS reps are not just there to put out fires, they need to get in the weeds to anticipate the needs.
"It’s important to consider organization tools and processes that provide the customer success team with strong insights into consumer behavior," Jenny says. Monitoring patterns, feedback, and sentiment is the Customer representative's job. Jenny also mentions that brands "should be able to predict a customer’s needs and have a sense of where they’re finding value before actually hearing from them."
TL;DR: don't wait for people to come complain and wonder why. Anticipate needs and value-adds by getting to know your clientele.
4. Go the Extra Mile
Jenny and her team often visit DH customers all over the world to give our fam members some face time. "I’m responsible for ensuring that our customers are finding value in our product," she muses, continuing: "speaking with and visiting them to share updates and receive their feedback is a way to establish a real connection with them and to show that we are not robots!" (See point #1.)
So find your version of face time for your business—what would your consumers appreciate on top of what you're already contributing? How do you deal with inquiries that come through? It might feel costly at first, but you'll notice the benefits down the road are endlessly better than if you don't do anything.
You and your customers.
5. People Talk—About the Good and the Bad
Staying on top of a solid customer service strategy is a huge challenge for any business, and the exact thing that unites us is partially to blame for the difficulties encountered: our humanity. We all have bad days and there's a lot beyond our reach, but "you have to be able to respond to issues that might be out of your comfort-zone and/or control," argues Jenny.
While the challenges are real, providing bad customer service doesn't stop at the one person on the receiving end of it. It can have a major ripple effect on all your activities. "Weak customer service means not just losing one customer, but losing many more potential future customers," asserts Jenny. Just like a game of Dominos, folks.
On the flip side, the chain of cause and effect also applies to positive sentiment. One of the biggest wins for any business is consumer advocacy, and one way to lock that in is with great customer service. Just as people will ditch you after a negative experience, they will support you and share their favorable feelings with friends, family, and in this day and age, any online outlet that provides a stage for feedback.
"Receiving referrals and endorsements is a major customer success win," says Jenny, stating that "it is the ultimate gold star." The greatest reward for any customer service department is knowing that your dedication led to loyalty and that it's consequently helping drive your brand. "Loyal customers will happily market your product or service without you asking, and support you in your growth," vouches Jenny.
Bonus #6. Use Social Media
Social channels are an opportunity for brands to right a wrong or just to spread positivity. The worst thing a brand can do is not address a public (or private, for that matter) complaint or be condescending to people. When asked if social media plays a role in customer service these days, Jenny is quick to respond with a "Yes! Big time."
She goes on to explain: "Today’s generation lives online. Social media not only provides a space for brands to build communities, but also to highlight strong CS-related activities for potential new customers." Some smart brands have their customer success reps monitor social channels to respond to fan love, inquiries, or complaints.
"Your future customers are most likely scoping out your Instagram feed," mentions Jenny, "and may even be commenting... So be thoughtful and be responsive 🤓!" Couldn't have said it better.
Jenny Pratt on the job ✨. Tough but rewarding.
If you want to do things right with customer service, it starts with one simple approach: "Shower your customers with love," Jenny affirms. "Be human. Build strong relationships. That loyalty will be crucial to your success."
Time to start going above and beyond for your customers if you haven't already. Cause you know... woke > broke. Ya heard?
Header image: Jenny Pratt's Instagram
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