Go the Extra Mile: Providing Outrageous Customer Service
Learn how to knock a customer’s socks off with a new and improved customer experience.
- Customer service is focused on a one-time interaction, whereas customer experience is concerned with the entire customer relationship.
- Customer service basics:
- Focus on speed in responding
- Personalize your approach
- Engage people with surveys
- Stay proactive by helping people before they have to ask
Providing outrageous customer service is one of our core values here at ContentBacon – alongside acting with integrity and maintaining a bullshit-free zone.
Many businesses likely have some iteration of “great customer service” as a core value, and they should. The product or service you provide isn’t all you have to offer a customer. Their opinion of your business starts taking shape from the moment they find you, and their experience with it goes beyond chats with sales reps. It also includes every website click, purchase, promo code, and email exchange.
This is how you build a long-term, committed relationship that provides value to the customer and, hopefully, money to you. One survey found that 58% of American consumers think customer service is more important than price. People are often willing to spend a little bit more for a great experience, so it’s well worth the effort to go the extra mile for your customers.
But what does it actually look like to provide an outrageous level of service, to go above and beyond what any customer would expect of you? It’s easy to state best intentions on the “About Us” section of your website, but how can you actually live this principle out loud?
This guide will go back to basics so you understand what customer service means, how to blow people’s minds, and how to measure the results so you can always tell what’s working.
Customer service versus customer experience
The term “customer experience” has taken the place of “customer service.” Why? Because experience encompasses the entire relationship between a business and a customer, not just one-off interactions.
The difference: If you go into a coffee shop and the friendly barista makes you a delicious latte, that’s great customer service. But if the staff members know your name and order every time you visit, and you get a free latte on your birthday along with exclusive discounts for being a loyal customer, that’s a great experience.
The experience is meant to leave a lasting impression on a customer, so that shop is the first one that comes to mind when they think of getting coffee. They start recommending it to friends and family, and they’re willing to go out of their way to leave an excellent online review.
Nailing this experience for customers is important if you want to build a loyal customer base and ensure it keeps growing. Consumers are so bombarded with ads these days that most have learned to ignore them or at least filter most out. Trusted endorsements are taking their place, with 77% of consumers saying word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends are the most persuasive sources for product information.
Think about it. If someone close to you tells you to try a new restaurant because they think you’ll love it, that’s way more reliable than an ad from a restaurant telling you the same thing. Your friend or family member actually knows you, what you like, and whether their visit to the restaurant was enjoyable.
Your business needs to provide a stellar experience, but you should take some time to self-reflect before assuming it already does so. You may think you’re delivering superior customer service, but consumers are more discerning than ever about who they support. Recent research shows four out of five consumers would leave a brand they’ve been loyal to after three or fewer cases of poor customer experience, for example. Ask yourself:
- Do your customers feel valued?
- Do they engage with your business emotionally as well as financially?
- Do they come back again and again?
- Would they recommend you to others?
Take a long, hard look in the mirror and understand whether your experience is really as spectacular as you think it is.
Customer service basics
Great customer experiences are based on four pillars: speed, personalization, engagement, and proactivity. The tricky part is combining these ideas into a seamless experience across all platforms and members of your organization.
Customers expect a response when they reach out to you, no matter how they do it, and they want it fast.
If they call or email, you should be getting back to them within a couple of hours or at least the same day. If they reach out on social media or live chat, that time frame shrinks to seconds and minutes. Shockingly, 62% of companies don’t respond to customer emails at all. Yikes.
The same goes for in-person service. Customers should be helped promptly so they know you’re there for them if they need it. We’ve all walked into a store and said, “Hello?” into the echo-y emptiness because no one is around, and immediately wondered if the proprietors left the door unlocked by mistake.
Avoiding that kind of experience is customer service 101. Getting back to customers quickly isn’t just about getting them in and out as fast as possible. It’s about showing them you’re listening and ready to help them at a moment’s notice.
Emotionally engaged customers are more likely to recommend and purchase from a business again, so it’s well worth the time and effort to connect with them. Zappos’ customer service team has been praised for this. They are trained to “live and deliver WOW” on each and every customer interaction. The service center is overstaffed, so wait times are drastically reduced.
But the cherry on top is the way the Zappos team goes above and beyond to help. They wave expedited shipping fees to get items to customers on time in cases of emergency. They send special treats to customers who buy shoes for special occasions. They even sent flowers to a customer who missed the return window on her shoes because of her mother’s funeral.
These may not be achievable ideas for every business, but they can serve as an inspiration to do something on a smaller scale. Simply getting to know your customers will go a long way:
- Remember their names and orders.
- Listen to them when they talk so you can continue the conversation next time.
- Offer promotions on their birthdays so they have excuses to treat themselves.
The list is endless, but there are options for any budget. Think about what you can do to warm their hearts and go out of your way to make their days a little bit better.
Get ready to pop the question. Well, not that question, but you should engage your customers at every stage of the process by encouraging feedback. Your secret weapon is the survey.
Surveys are a great way to create a permanent feedback loop. Include one with every receipt, after every live chat conversation, and in a quarterly email. You won’t hear back from every customer, but the ones that do partake will give you a nice glimpse into how you’re doing as a business.
Remember: Gathering feedback is one thing. It’s entirely another thing to incorporate it. As much as you may not want to hear a negative review or constructive criticism, you have to remember that perception is reality. If your customers are telling you something is wrong, you need to listen and correct course so you don’t end up with a bigger issue.
Research from Zendesk shows that 69% of customers want to resolve an issue on their own before they reach out to a representative. This means they’re Googling the problem to troubleshoot or visiting your website and social media trying to find an answer. They’ll do almost anything to avoid talking to a live person over the phone.
Self-service is a great opportunity to provide an outstanding customer experience. Implementing feedback loops like we discussed earlier will tell you what some of your customers’ biggest pain points are, giving you the chance to address them. Then:
- Create educational blogs and case studies to build a resource library and work on your SEO rankings at the same time.
- Offer training and webinars about your services to answer questions upfront.
- Have a help center to address FAQs.
- Give customers a chance to talk it out amongst themselves in a forum setting.
Being helpful doesn’t mean you always have to be available for direct communication. Anticipating some of your customers’ needs before they even have them tells them you are self-aware and proactive, which is always an attractive quality in a long-term partner.
Go the extra mile with better content
Growing your loyal customer base by providing outrageous customer service is extremely satisfying as a business owner. Just make sure you’re tracking your efforts along the way with benchmarks, goals, and analytics so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
Many businesses use surveys and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to see how likely customers are to promote the company to their friends and family. Pay particular attention to customers that don’t return or “churn.” Try to find out why they left as often as possible so you can pinpoint and resolve existing issues.
You can make your customers’ jaws drop no matter how big your budget is. Stay dedicated to the customer service cause and watch your business grow with dedicated customers who become like a second family.
An effective way to improve your customer experience is to focus more on content marketing. Content inspires, excites, and drives action, and you can create more meaningful, emotional connections with your audiences.
If you’re looking for ways to introduce new content and bulk up your brand experience, check out our subscriptions at ContentBacon and give us a shout. Everyone loves sizzling bacon, and we promise your customers will too.
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