No matter your industry, quality customer service has become a major differentiating factor for businesses. If your customer service team isn’t up to snuff, your company will eventually lose to competitors who are doing it better.
But quality customer service is not complicated. Essentially, anyone on your customer-facing team simply needs to embrace theses mantras:
In this article, we’re going to reverse-engineer some great reviews in order to illuminate 9 customer service hacks that will impress your customers, have them returning to your business in droves, and influence them to drive new business your way via word-of-mouth and 5-star online reviews.
Stay with us until the end of this post and download our customer service article roundup, chock full of tool tips, hiring advice, and the future of customer service.
1. Be Humble and Don’t Make Your Customers Feel Dumb
James sounds like a pretty amazing guy, and he’s developed quite the relationship with George, going from broker to friend. While we may not have the same type of connection with our customers, we can aspire to be like James. Not only did he answer ‘every stupid question,’ he did so with humility. Many of your customers come to your business with a complete lack of knowledge. Sure, they may have done research on their own, but they expect you to be the expert.
When your support team has been on board for a while, and they hear the same simple questions day in and out, a glazed over eye roll is understandable. But the true gems of the customer service world take those FAQs and explain them in a way that doesn’t make the customer feel like a child. That humility and respect will go a long way in the eyes of your customer, especially if they already are insecure about working with your business.
2. Be Helpful Instead of Pitching the Sale
Honestly, while we as business owners like to know how our prospects find us and ultimately become customers, one buyer journey is never exactly the same as another. We should anticipate that a potential customer might think they’re ready, but after consulting with us, realize they haven’t considered a variety of components that might inform their decision.
Even if they have this realization early in their interactions with your team, it’s essential to be as helpful and transparent as possible. People appreciate when customer service reps don’t lay on the hard sell from the get go. If your prospect isn’t ready, and you don’t pressure them prematurely, they will feel comfortable returning to you when the time is right.
Karl of Flores Landscaping was ready to help guide his prospect on her time table. Then, as they developed Amy’s vision together, Karl earned Amy’s trust based on his expertise and thoughtfulness. I’m sure Karl’s suggestion to reuse Amy’s concrete slabs and save her money was icing on the cake.
3. Be Friendly and Surprise Your Customers
Some businesses benefit from making their customers feel like family. When your business model includes routine check ups or frequent repeat customers, get to know them! I always appreciate when the baristas at my local coffee shop greet me by name or already know my normal drink. Taking the time to ask your customers about their lives (in a non-intrusive way) will help them feel like family when they’re at your place of business.
In the dental industry, you wouldn’t expect people to be this excited for their routine visits, but Charlie’s experiences at Lee Dental Clinic stand out, because not only did he connect with his dentist on a personal level, but the little giveaways were a useful and clever delight.
4. Be Knowledgeable and Educate Your Employees
If you’re working in an industry where the stakes for your prospective customers are high (like law), and they’re considerably undereducated on the matter, your expertise on the subject is essential. Not only being able to empathize with your client, but also educating them on their problem will set you apart from the competition.
Sometimes, the potential client will have attempted to research their situation on their own (WebMD set off any alarms?) and come to you thinking that they’re knowledgeable on the subject. It’s important in these scenarios to know your field inside and out with evidence that you can turn to so you can reveal why the prospect came to you in the first place.
5. Be Thoughtful and Solve Problems
Mistakes happen. No business goes without a negative review forever, because no matter how informed our customer service team and leadership are, the unexpected happens, and it’s our responsibility to be able to handle the curveballs we’re thrown.
While it’s important to have policies in place to protect the bottom line, having managers or customer service reps who can make exceptions to save a bad customer experience is paramount. Not only will these exceptional cases protect your customers from a disappointing encounter with your company, but it will help your employees save face and avoid the dreaded, “That’s our policy.” company line.
Even if the situation loses you money in the short run, you will possibly see a larger return in the long run. A satisfied customer will sing your praises when you turn a bad experience around in a timely fashion and offer (what the customer considers) a fair solution.
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6. Be Useful – Have Vetted Recommended Vendors
Whether you’re an events planner, a home services provider, a hotel, or any local business, knowing the other local businesses around you can make you more useful to your customers. When you’re able to recommend complementary vendors to your clients, you’ll save them time and money–and probably make some local business-owner friends who can return the favor.
Of course, we want to vet the companies that we recommend. The last thing you want is to send one of your customers to an unorganized and incompetent business. That’s an easy way to make your customers hate you. Good vendor recommendation builds trust with your clients.
Pro-Tip:Hard as it may be, sometimes your services are not the right fit for a particular prospect. While it sounds scary to recommend a competitor, it’s sometimes the right move. You may lose that one customer to your competitor, but the next time they have a friend who is a perfect fit for your service, a recommendation is practically inevitable.
7. Be Timely – Even at Inconvenient Times
Sometimes, your free advice alone can earn a positive review! In the case of Chanel, she reached out to George expecting to pay a fee simply for the advice he provided. Combine the free advice with the timely manner of George’s reply, late at night nonetheless, and you can see why he earned a customer for life.
8. Everyone Who Interacts with Customers is Customer Service
Yes, you have a dedicated staff to customer support, but that doesn’t mean they are the only employees providing support to your customers and clients. Remember that EVERY employee that interacts with clients face to face has the responsibility to maintain the same level of customer service as your dedicated reps. As you can see, the reviewer above had a positive interaction with everyone at the hospital, from the employees dedicated to checking in on her to the Wound Care nurses, to the maintenance staff.
Sometimes, just one negative touch point can ruin an experience. If you have employees that are sullen, argumentative, or just plain sour, keep them out of the way of customers! Not everyone is a people person, but social skills are imperative for any client facing role, no matter how small.
9. And Don’t Forget – Ask for the review!
Finally, while it may seem awkward, always remember to ask for the review. Make sure your customer service managers ingrain this important request in their teams’ heads.
Who should be asking for the review? It helps to have someone the customer knows make “the Ask.” This is a business that rewards authenticity, so if a customer had a good experience and feels well-served by the person asking them for the review, they are more likely to do it. Automating the review ask can be effective–and certainly we can help–but remember that even if you’re automating the process, it still helps to personalize the request as much as possible.
The selected reviews in this post represent the best types of reviews you can get. As you can see, all of them name the person that helped them, revealing the personal connection that was developed. The reviews aren’t novel length, making them consumable by other people researching your company. They all share a personal story that adds to the credibility of the review. The ones that show how they solved a problem are even more valuable, since customers tend to hope for the best and expect the worst. Being a friendly, helpful, problem solver can sometimes be more important than the actual service or product you sell!
And always remember, EVERY employee that interacts with customers needs to have the same mindset, training, and support as your dedicated customer service representative. Employ these customer service hacks and your positive reviews will explode.