Customer Service: 24 Tips to Make it Easy for Customers
Leaders, does your vision of company success include the phrase easy for customers? With so much spent on customer loyalty research, it is surprising to see so little focus put on the basic customer service request — make it easy for me!!
There are some exceptions like Staples Office Supplies who have made Easy their brand. Yet it is not a message you hear from every single business. It should be!
When you give customers value and ease, they have little reason to go to your competitors. Easy and valuable builds loyalty builds because it is hard to leave! Are you ready to move past the customer loyalty research and into the zone of true customer loyalty?
Basic Beliefs You’ll Need
- The customer is your pathway to success — not your enemy. Trust don’t mistrust.
- There are things all customers need from you to give you their loyalty: value, ease, positive memory, gratitude.
- The opposite of easy is difficult not high status. Some businesses believe that complexity makes their brand seem more valuable. Yet the finest hotels and restaurants make customer service easy for the customer not complex and difficult.
- Making customer service easy costs you little and brings you much.
Easy Customer Service: 24 Things Customers Will Love!
- Be attentive. “Stop doing other things while you’re helping me.” Stop texting, stop talking to your coworkers about other things, stop picking up the phone and serving other customers, stop watching the video playing in the room, etc… Be present and attentive in customer service.
- Be friendly. Friendly makes it easy and it doesn’t have to delay value. “Smile, be open to questions, show me you care.” It costs nothing and speaks volumes in gratitude.
- Be adaptable. “I’m a person. Not a cog in your process wheel.” Strict scripts in customer service make life difficult for the customer. This doesn’t mean you must throw out all processes and let each customer run your company. It does mean your processes must be flexible to make customer service easy for each customer.
- Be timely. “if you here I’m urgent, get to the point. If I’m laid back, don’t push me.” There are some cultures where fast is rude because it seems like you don’t value the customer as a person. Other cultures value time and want you to respect it.
- Be proactive. “Use your expertise to prevent my problems.” Anticipate customers needs. Not that hard to do if you are listening. So throw away the script, listen to what the customers are saying, and make it easy for them. Anticipation communicates care which breeds loyalty. You may even sell them more as you anticipate their needs!
- Be creative. “Do something to help me even when I have an unusual request.” Creative problem solving or creative fun (depending on your product/service) makes life easy for the customer. It also energizes employees’ commitment to your brand and the customers!
- Be resilient. “Don’t treat me badly because it’s the end of your shift.” The customer needs care even when you are tired. Be as caring to the customer at the end of your workday as you were to the ones at the beginning. This makes it easy to be loyal to your brand.
- Be balanced in a storm. “You’re my lifeboat. Stay calm to ease the storm.” Things happen. Handle them with ease and make customer service easy for the customer. This builds trust and loyalty. Don’t tell the customer to calm down. It makes you look like an uncaring inept control freak.
- Be transparent. “Remove my doubt.” Pre-purchase or post purchase, being able to trust your brand makes life easy for the customer! Smoke and mirrors, hidden clauses, and surprises that deny service make it difficult for the customer to stay and easy for them to leave!
- Be virtuous. “Show me your brand has integrity.” Make your brand a brand of no excuses! Deliver the fix. Don’t defend the trouble. Make it easy for the customer to trust you! Remember, mistrust is a powerful engine.
- Honor privacy. A pharmacist in a well-known nationwide pharmacy said out loud to a packed waiting area, “Miss Debra _______________, where on your body will you be using this special powder for your rash? I have to enter the information in the system.” The patient customer was horrified. She gathered her courage and replied, “Why don’t you tell the whole world?” Was this pharmacist an idiot, an uncaring person, or a techno-focused robot? None of those deliver great service. Speak with people privately and secure their private information.
- Honor the customer’s view and knowledge. If the customer feels overrun, it’s not great service. Whether it is a retail customer explaining their situation or a patient explaining their pain, their view matters. Honor them with listening and insightful questions that diagnose not demean.
- Honor the customers for choosing your company or professional practice. All the traditional courtesies do this well. Please, thank you, you’re welcome, so glad to see you, thanks for coming back to us — all honor the customers for being your customers.
- Stop asking the customer to repeat themselves. “Hear me.” Contact centers are notorious for torturing the customer through repetition — especially when connecting the call to others departments. Stop this madness. Listen, take notes, and be the customer’s advocate! Why would anyone be loyal to a brand that tortures them?
- Stop hiding! “What’s your phone number?” If a customer can’t easily find your phone number, they are not likely to give you their loyalty. Even in today’s high tech environment of online service, customers want to know that calling you is an option when needed. If you hide your phone number on your website, your message is “don’t call us”. Hmmm… hardly a strategy for customer loyalty.
- Stop the jargon! An airline agent asked the customer: “What’s the fare basis on your ticket?” The customer snapped back: “I don’t know. I don’t speak airline.” Jargon makes life difficult for the customer. It also makes a brand seem full of itself.
- Work as a team. “I don’t care that it’s not your department!” Silos, personality conflicts, turf wars in companies are the opposite of easy customer service. It makes life difficult for customers and once again tells them you don’t care enough to work as a team.
- Welcome the customers’ questions. Questions are a sign of interest. Don’t misconstrue them to be questioning your authority. Build loyalty — don’t expect blind trust. The healthcare community seems to struggle with this. They send the message “ask questions and be active in your healthcare” yet they get impatient when patients ask questions. Remember, customers are easier to deal with when you make it easy for them to build trust in you.
- Welcome the customers’ view of customer service. Hotels that have a true customer satisfaction policy build loyalty. Hotels that rigidly define what they think is great customer service lose out. To some customers, safety is absolutely #1. To others, it’s access to the internet. To others, it’s a firm bed. Personalize customer service and you will see customers return.
- Welcome the customers’ real feedback. Does your customer feedback survey give customers opportunity to tell you in words what they think and what they would like next time? Having a voice makes it easy for them to come back to you. If you have primarily a numbers based survey, you are telling them you care only about the overall ranking — not what they think.
- Satisfy customers before they complain. Customers don’t like to become angry. They want things to be easy and easily addressed. Let them know upfront you will help them. BAM! Easy. Rebuild the trust.
- Hire people who like to serve. Yes, they do exist. Then train them, empower them, support them. It’s easy for employees to satisfy customers when leaders aren’t using the reps to limit service to the customers!
- Be grateful. Every word you speak, every action you take must tell each customer: “You matter individually.” This makes it easy to come back to you. What human doesn’t want to be valued? Even those that play it kool and claim they don’t care about gratitude, actually love it.
- Deliver on the most basic human need — love. Customer loyalty is pretty simple. If you want customers to love your brand, love your customers!
Make it easy for customers! Appreciate them, their time and value to your company. They are not numbers, demographic segments, dutiful servants, idiots waiting for your wisdom, nor puppets for profit.
Respect. them. Care for them. Each — and every one of them!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
Grateful for image by: Spackletoe via Flickr Creative Commons License.
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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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