In recent years there has been something of a strange shift among new companies, whereby they have considered customer services, and in turn customers themselves, to be secondary to what they actually do. As such they are placing less importance on it, but the provision of great service should be a top focus for any business as research has repeatedly shown that it can help to increase sales and boost business overall.
Companies must avoid making the mistake of believing the old adage that people will always tell someone when they receive bad service, but not always when they receive a good service – this is changing! The inter-connectivity of today’s world and the ways in which information is shared means people are regularly shouting from the virtual rooftops about good service. Social media, online reviews, good old fashioned word of mouth – they can’t wait to share their good experiences. Getting people shouting about your service is now more important than ever.
In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.
It is now easier than ever before for customers to take their business elsewhere and your job is stop them from doing so by any means necessary. One of the best ways to do this is to begin gathering positive testimonials of your service by asking real customers for reviews. A US based survey last year by Dimensional Research found that a huge 90% of consumers said that positive online reviews influenced their decision of whether or not to make a purchase with a company. Similarly a huge 86% confirmed they were also largely influenced by reading negative reviews. In 2013 there was a survey conducted by BrightLocal in London which demonstrated that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do good old-fashioned personal recommendations.
Having positive reviews is great but the worst thing you can do, and many naive businesses have tried, is to speed up the process by leaving fake reviews for your own company. For one thing this is illegal and there has now been several prosecutions made in recent years. However, persuading genuine customers to leave a review and convincing them it is worth their time is a fine line to tread though, as outlined in this article from Mashable.
Gathering reviews can have an incredible benefit on the perception of your business online. Here at Rapid Formations we have seen the benefit of soliciting reviews from our clients and these positive reviews have then given us something to show potential customers as to why they should use our facilities.
Our reviews are gathered by Trustpilot – one of the fastest growing review platforms out there – whom we decided to use because of their commitment to only publishing reviews by 100% verified customers. Since we began collecting reviews back in March 2014 we have felt a real benefit to our business:
- Improved conversions.
- Notable improvement in customer confidence.
- Help with promotion – we can officially declare ourselves the best company formation agents in the UK.
Reviews are great but there are obviously steps that need to be taken before lying back and basking in the glory of your impeccable customer service reviews. Where do you start with implementing procedures to ensure the service you’re providing will be worthy of positive review? Follow these tips to make sure you get it right:
Begin with the way you do business – are you up front with customers about what they’re buying and exactly how much it costs? Making sure that your customers are clear on these factors minimises the potential risk of any future complaints. This will also help to build trust and that is a great thing to have in a small business.
When you receive a customer enquiry, nothing gets you off on the right foot better than a quick and courteous response. After all, the longer it takes you to respond the more chance the customer has to choose one of your competitors instead.
A lot of customer complaints can be bogus. Some people just like to kick up a fuss, or they have misunderstood something. It happens, but so do genuine complaints. So no matter what the complainants issue is it is important to listen carefully and really take on board what they are saying. This is something which should be done at all times, whether the client is happy at the time or not. It is good service 101.
Value the customer.
Okay so the customer isn’t always right, we know that much, but you should also strive to never alienate the customer - to make them feel as if they are somehow an imposition on your business. After all, the opposite is true - without customers your business is nothing. This quote from none other than Ghandi is an excellent reminder of the balance of power in such situations.
"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Don’t be afraid of negativity.
In the world of social media it is inevitable that if your business reaches a certain level then you may encounter some less than constructive feedback online. Don’t immediately flee from this, but try and turn it into a positive. If you can engage a customer and turn it around they will be grateful for you caring and other people will notice your great service.
Go the extra mile.
You never hear stories in the press about companies who provided some ’okay’ customer services - that is the minimum that is expected. Instead you hear about those businesses who decided to go the extra mile to make the customer feel special and demonstrate their company values are in the right place. Just look at these amazing examples and tell us you don’t immediately like the companies involved a whole lot more.
If you can take care of these above steps then your customers will recognise your dedication to quality service. They will appreciate being listened to and respected and they will offer the same courtesy in return for your business which has provided them with the service they require. From there it all takes care of itself.