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Be the "Best of the Best" in Customer Service

For the month of February, we’ve been really focusing on Customer Service. We’ve talked to professionals, gone out into the world and had many business interactions, studied what other businesses are doing, have had good and really, REALLY bad experiences in customer service – right here in our community and beyond. As a result of our month-long dive into what makes businesses the “best of the best” where customer service is concerned, here’s what we came up with:

1. Respond as quickly as possible

One of the biggest factors in good customer service is speed, especially when a client is requesting something that’s time sensitive.

Several years ago, STELLAService conducted a response time report and found that the average email response time for the top 100 retail companies was 17 hours. Today, it's not much better as own customer service study found that the average response time is 12 hours.

While Frost reported that 41% of consumers surveyed listed being put on hold as their biggest frustration. Make sure you don’t leave customers waiting.

A great example of this is when Lexus recalled a series of Lexus ES 350 sedans and asked car owners to visit a dealership to bring their cars in. Instead of having to sit in a waiting room watching their cars being worked on, their customers were given a brand new Lexus instead.

2. Know your customers

Great interactions begin with knowing your customers. People love personalization! Get to know your customers, remember their names and previous conversations. If needed, make a note of what was discussed previously so you can refer to it the next time you meet.

In January 2020, Starbucks launched their "Every name's a story" campaign focusing on improving relationships with their customers. The award-winning campaign promotes inclusivity, recognition and acceptance at Starbucks stores across the world. The video, a focal point of the campaign, has generated more than 2.8 million views on YouTube.

3. Fix your mistakes

Not taking responsibility of your mistakes is a sure-fire way to getting a bad reputation. Transparency is important in business and customer service is no different. Always strive for a high-quality output as it shows you have a high level of standards.

We all make mistakes; in business, it’s important that you come to a resolution that will satisfy your customer.

4. Listen to your customers

Listening to the people you serve will not only result in a happy customer, it can also go a long way in terms of keeping yourself on their radar for future business.

A three year-old named Lily Robinson wrote a letter to Sainsbury’s, a UK grocery store, a letter asking why ‘tiger bread was called tiger bread and not giraffe bread?’. Lily was clearly onto something, as the bread really does look like a giraffe print!

In most cases, these types of suggestions are met with a simple "Thank you".

But, to Lily’s surprise, Chris King, the customer service manager of Sainsbury’s responded with “I think renaming it to giraffe bread is a brilliant idea!”. Several months later, the bread was renamed to giraffe bread.

How's that for appreciating your customers?

5. Think long term – A customer is for life

Think long term when dealing with customers. By keeping customers happy, they will be loyal and through word of mouth, will do the marketing for you. In fact, according to author Pete Blackshaw, a satisfied customer tells at least three friends (whereas an angry customer tells 3,000!)

Peter Shankman, author and business consultant, was ready to board a flight before tweeting “Hey, @Mortons – can you meet me at Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)”.

A fun attempt at humor, right?

Peter admitted he was joking. He never expected anything after he sent that Tweet...

But, as soon as Peter landed, a gentleman wearing a tuxedo was holding a bag that contained a porterhouse steak, shrimp, potatoes, napkins and silverware. Knowing that Peter was a regular customer and having tracked down his arrival details, Morton’s traveled more than 23 miles to deliver his food and with - one of the greatest customer service stories of all time.

Would you travel 23 miles to provide one of the most legendary stories on customer service?

I know I would.

How important is it to deliver excellent customer service?

Customer service has an impact on both existing customers and potential customers. A recent survey found that 68% of consumers would react by telling family and friends about a bad experience by posting it on a social network. And as each Facebook profile has an average of 155 friends, one negative experience can quickly reach thousands!

However, there is great value in ensuring you deliver a positive customer service.

A RightNow Technologies Customer Experience Report found that 86% of U.S. adults are willing to pay more for a better customer experience and 73% of U.S. adults said a friendly customer service made them fall in love with a brand. Not only will brands get happy, loyal customers but will see increased business.

If you want to improve relationships with your customers, start by making small changes to your customer service.

No matter how great your business is or how talented your team may be, customers will always remember the interactions they have with your company. Business should be built around how to deliver excellent customer service. It’s easy to forget its importance when you are building your brand’s web presence and marketing your website. However, these five examples above have stood the test of time and provide truly excellent customer service.

Do you have any stories of a company that delivers excellent customer service? Please let us know in the comments below!

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