Feelings and emotions are the heart of customer service, aren’t they? And social customer care is the key to your marketing campaigns … particularly word of mouth marketing. So you are getting the picture of the question of brand personality and when a brand cares about you, right?
Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou
Customer care is no longer an emerging trend to merely keep an eye on – it’s a burgeoning movement that companies would be very wise to embrace. Instead of returning to a store or calling a helpline, people are increasingly turning to social media to resolve their gripes. It is called social customer care.
In this post, I will discuss the signs that show a company cares about its customers. I have come up with twelve things that are truly important to me as a customer. Take a read and let me know if you can add an idea.
Your care is not just solving problems
Customer care should not necessarily be any different from “serving customers.” Solving problems is always important, but helping our customers improve their utility, experience or lives is just as compelling—if not more.
Be more specific; suggest ideas; offer information of value; or recommend solutions from which both you and your customers will benefit. Use any form of suggestions to upsell your customer on the value you can provide … not revenue.
The two are not mutually exclusive. A simple: “did you know” portfolio of useful tips, tools, tricks and tutorials is a powerful and painless accompaniment to your usual response.
Today’s consumers expect that the process of contacting customer service is seamless and straightforward. Statistically, 83% of online customers require some degree of support to complete a purchase, and 71% expect to be able to access help online within 5 minutes.
Top performing companies realize that their customer service channels should include many, if not all, of the options available today. Be it email, phone, Live Chat, social media channels, FAQs or self-service, companies that care about customers ensure their contact details and other relevant information can be easily found, all of the options are working properly, and agents are swiftly responding when their help is needed.
Brand personality … their care never ends
As evidenced by Subway in addressing an online issue about the length of their subs, their response time cost the brand much negative publicity. The fact that this conversation erupted over a weekend certainly isolated the fact that the brand was not “plugged in” to its community or audience. Truthfully (and in fairness), the same outcome might have happened during the week, but the real lesson here is that a listening strategy tied to customer feedback needs to be always on.
The important point here is to make sure customers can get a hold of you when they need to, and that you can contact them when you need to—and you do indeed need to when they’re having a problem, venting frustration, or simply calling out for help.
Obsessed with service excellence
According to another research, 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service, and 40% are sure they will cease doing business with a company if they happen to experience it. That sounds too disturbing to ignore.
These days we witness high product availability, increasing choice options, and more competitive prices. Business competition has evolved into the challenge of building and maintaining exceptional customer experiences. Companies that stand apart recognize the importance of excellent customer service for keeping customers feeling positive and happy about their experiences with the brand.
Everyone is engaged
The paradox of customer service is that the lower down the totem pole you go, the more impactful and important customer service becomes. Every single employee in an organization represents the company. They are a window into or out of business; and as far as your customer is concerned, they are the only window. Best to keep it clean, functional, and make sure that what lies beyond the window is suitable viewing—don’t you think?
Perhaps this is why Zappos describes themselves as a service company that happens to sell shoes, or that Southwest Airlines describes themselves as a service company that happens to fly planes.
Striving to know you
Today’s consumers are much more demanding if compared to what they used to be a while ago. 72% of them now expect a customer service representative to know their contact details, product information, and service history as soon as they get in touch with support.
Knowing your customer is an essential key to business success. Without this knowledge, you just won’t have the information needed to make the right decisions about pricing, marketing and almost any other aspect of running your business. As the market landscape is evolving, and social media and many other resources allow companies to connect with their customers on a personal level, true customer care implies going all out to know customer expectations and tend to their needs.
Your care means near real-time
The ability to solve problems in real time is the consummate difference maker. The more time that elapses between problem and solution, the greater the risk of that problem mushroomingout of control.
The good news is that this is exactly where everything is going… largely thanks to technology. For example, if you have OnStar in your car, you practically have a call-center at your beck and call—a proactive and actionable one with little to no action required on your part.
Willing to go an extra mile
The majority of companies offer staff training to make sure everyone knows basic procedures to follow in standard situations. While having clear policies and procedures is important to make sure everyone is one the same page about applying them, it’s also critical to encourage and empower employees to take decisions on their own.
This might include breaking the rules and flexibly using employee creativity for rewarding customer experiences. Companies that empower their staff to go above and beyond for great customer satisfaction know its worth. They do not tie their employees with scripted scenarios and encourage staff to use their unique personality to serve their customers the best way possible.
Companies anticipate and are proactive
Old customer service translated to speak when it was spoken to. New customer care anticipates requirements, listens attentively to customers in need, and proactively searches for problems to fix.
An active and engaged listening strategy will help to identify opportunities, spot problems before they balloon, and in doing so, surprise and hopefully delight consumers by making an unexpected move in the form of responding to them.
Brand personality examples … love to reward loyalty
Companies focused merely on attracting new customers could be in trouble. Regular customers admit they feel frustrated and left out as they observe businesses shouting out heavy discounts and juicy offers only to attract new customers. Buying growth through discounts and promotions while not caring much about longtime relationship and rewarding customer loyalty can do more harm.
According to research carried out by The Grass Roots Group, about 49% of consumers even consider switching loyalties if a provider’s special offers are only available to new customers. Those businesses that survive and prosper build their strategy based on fostering customer loyalty and do so with great reward.
They always give the best expertise
Responding to consumers via blogs, podcasts, social networks and Twitter-like platforms is admirable, but a learned art. You’ll need to be adept at knowing when to open up a conversation, pull it in, and close it down. Your expertise is one of your most valued assets. Use it to your advantage by freely giving it away.
Care is their most important commitment
Care is a commitment, not a one-off happenstance. And there’s no more important commitment than that which we make to our lifeblood—our customers. Commitment, like a relationship, is for keeps. They need to visibly demonstrate our commitment to our customers in practice and action. We need to explicitly feel its effect and benefits.
We simply have to get smarter each time we deal with the same person—specifically regarding how we treat them. It helps us become smarter as a company so we can learn, evolve and improve on the whole.
The bottom line
Whether it’s good news or bad, your customers deserve timely, open and honest communication. It is critical to keep them informed about your company innovations and events to justify their trust and gain more credibility.
Truth be known, there are too many follow-up communications like auto-replies, post-sale surveys and special offers largely left unopened and unread. It’s imperative to proactively inform your customers about product recalls involving safety issues or product defects, as well as changes in pricing and other significant terms. Those businesses who care do their best to reach out to their customers with relevant information and pass it via all the communication channels available – to make sure the important message got through.
Need some help in building better customer service for your customers? Have you noticed the growing importance of customer service you provide, especially for your marketing? Creative ideas to help enhance your word of mouth marketing?
Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your customer service improvement and pay for results.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas for your service to customers.
When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy to improving your continuous learning for yourself and your team?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on customer service from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library: