It doesn’t matter how well you use technology, how clear and brilliant your vision is, or how dedicated your employees might be: if customers aren’t satisfied with the service you provide, your business will suffer and may ultimately fail. According to Inc. magazine, 86 percent of customers have ceased to do business with a company after just one negative customer service experience; the total estimated annual losses due to bad customer service is more than $500 billion. Clearly, making customers happy should be at the top of any business owner’s “to do” list. You need to be in a position to resolve customer problems in a timely manner, so it’s important to have the right tools at hand for managing customer relations.
Customer service tools
Many of your customers expect a personal, one-on-one experience that includes both the efficiency of a technical proficiency and the human touch. Seek out an effective customer service solution, such as Salesforce Desk, which can help your sales personnel resolve customer problems as they arise as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Include a self-service customer portal on your website to empower your clientele to resolve their own issues.
For managing your online brand reputation, try Google Alerts, a free, online resource that sends email updates whenever your keywords appear online, allowing you to track your company’s public profile and address specific problems as they arise. Google Alerts compiles valuable data and provides it rapidly in an organized manner.
This seems like an obvious one, but a surprising number of companies ignore the importance of simple courtesy in maintaining customer relationships, even those employees who have frequent face-to-face interaction with customers. With the many opportunities to monitor your company’s reputation and reasons for dissatisfaction, there’s really no excuse for not paying attention to what people are saying about you. According to McKinsey, 70 percent of customers choose to do business based on how they feel at the moment; which is a powerful reason for going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.
Keep a close eye on social media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media venues are sounding boards for people who have an axe to grind about some perceived slight or outright insult. If your company doesn’t have a social media manager, consider hiring one—someone who can monitor what’s being said, assessing the reasons for individual customer unhappiness and what should be done to resolve problems.
By the same token, pay attention to positive comments about your company and how you can best take advantage of them. And never ignore a social media inquiry. Social media is there to provide a direct and unimpeded line of communication between company and customer, so treat social media communication from customers very seriously and respond in a timely manner.
Don’t overdo technology where customers are concerned
If you rely on an automated CRM system, always bear in mind that some customers just prefer the option to speak to a human being without delay. Without that option, some people may become frustrated by and even suspicious of a company that won’t allow them access to a person who can deal with problems immediately, so be sure to give customers access to a live customer service agent.
Customer satisfaction is at the heart of any business; it’s your lifeblood and the means by which you will succeed and survive—or fail and go out of business. Make strategic use of technology, but never lose sight of the importance of direct, human contact with customers.