But keeping clients happy is a whole new ballgame in 2013. Consumer behaviour has changed radically with the growth of Internet search engines and social media. According to Google, 97 per cent of consumers go online to research products or services; and 85 per cent of them find local businesses through Yelp. In its March 2013 survey, eBizMBA ranks Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube as the top four most popular websites (Twitter comes in 9th and LinkedIn, 15th). What does that mean to your business? Your clients are more web and social media-savvy – and over 70 per cent of them expect a response from you within 8-24 hours. That means, they expect a whole lot more from you – a lot faster!
So, how do you offer better, faster customer service?
Consider these ideas to keep your clients feeling valued and well-serviced:
The personal touch – Invest time in building the relationship. Maintain contact after the sale has been made. Regular check-ins are always viewed positively. This contact demonstrates your commitment to your customer’s success. It also shows you’re proactive and you take initiative – alerting your customer to issues that can be managed before they escalate or opportunities that can be leveraged with the right timing.
See the world from your customer’s point of view – Each customer is a real person – but it’s difficult to put a face to every single one of them. That’s where customer “personas” come into play. Persona development is a way of grouping your target audience by demographics, attitudes and behaviours to help you visualize the types of customers you already have and those whom you want to attract. By understanding the priorities and challenges facing your customer personas, you understand what motivates a potential client to choose your product/service over a competitor’s and what your existing customers expect from you.
Collaboration – Invite your client to help develop the product or service with you. Sometimes, the ‘deal’ is just the start of a relationship in which you and your client create a fit-for-purpose result, based on your expertise and your client’s need.
Useful Content means providing valuable information to your current and potential clients that that enables them to use the product/service better; give feedback and suggestions; and share with their friends and associates. Going the extra miles shows that your business isn’t just about the sale, it’s about being a helpful resource too.
Sites and Apps for mobile devices – People want to use mobile devices to access full content and perform all available tasks, even when they have access to a desktop computer. Although there are challenges with cross-platform mobile frameworks, you’re wise to consider integrating smartphone self-service applications (apps) with traditional service channels. Anything that helps your clients help themselves (especially outside office hours!) will stand you in good stead.
Take Responsibility when things go wrong. Have a plan in place to resolve the problem. Give your front line staff the authority to activate mitigation procedures based on that plan. When you’re prepared, you can handle a problem with skill and grace, while demonstrating the mettle and values of your organization. Once it’s resolved, you’ll find that your staff and your clients are satisfied because they all felt they were heard, valued and empowered.
Satisfied clients are your best source of future business
Whether online or in your store, your clients judge you on the quality of your work, your response to their issues and how they are treated when they deal with you and your firm. It all comes back to nurturing your customer touchpoints and tailoring a customer relationship strategy that works for your business. If you effectively connect with your clients before and after first contact, you’re fulfilling their value proposition.