When you improve your customer service standards and processes, you improve your customers' experience. And when you do that, your business grows. Here we look at practical steps you can take.
Let's start with a game, shall we?
Mary manages a small country inn. She carries luggage to the rooms, serves wine and cheese in the lobby each night and does turn-down service, even though the inn's owner doesn't require her to.
Tim is a roofer who owns his own business. Tim's quiet and known for being reliable. Even though he doesn't talk much, his customers say he's always responsive to their questions and that he always does what he says he'll do.
Sharon is the office manager for an accounting firm. She's a task master, so not all the employees love her - but she's earned a reputation for being competent and attentive. Clients know they can come to her with any problems and she'll fix them.
These professionals could live in different countries, come from totally different backgrounds, have entirely different personalities and work in very different settings. But there's one thing they all have in common - do you know what it is?
What All Successful Businesses Have in Common
Mary, Tim and Sharon have all mastered the art of customer service.
They have the skills and experience that they need to perform their jobs. For example, Tim knows the right nails to use for different shingle types, and Sharon knows every Excel shortcut there is.
But these three go the extra mile for their customers, and that's what makes them successful. For example, the guests at Mary's hotel might hardly notice her. They might not realize that she's not required to do turn-down service or that she stays late every night. What's they'll notice is that they feel welcomed and catered to, and that's what will bring them back - or at least, make them write glowing Yelp reviews for the hotel.
Look, no business can survive without customers/clients/patients/whatever it calls the people who use its services. And while a plastic surgeon who specializes in giving face lifts to cats probably doesn't have much competition, most businesses do have competitors that offer similar services for similar prices. Customers make decisions about where to go based on not just which business is cheapest, but which business will treat them the best.
The bottom line is this: improving your customer service is the simplest way to grow your business. And it's easier than you might think.
Step One: Gather Data
If you own or manage a business, you might think that you're the expert on that business. You know what the budget looks like, what you need to do during tax season, which employees are struggling and where the extra paper towels are stashed. But you don't know what it's like to be a customer of your business, and that's the information you need if you're going to make your services even stronger.
Guessing at what needs changing isn't a good idea. For one thing, you might guess wrong! If customers are avoiding you because of a few bad employees, remodeling the bathroom isn't going to bring them back. The best move is to find out what your customers really think and want.
Enter customer feedback software. It automates the process of getting feedback, both good and bad, from your real customers. Businesses of all types and sizes can benefit from customer feedback software, from one-person creatives to major corporations with hundreds of employees. Different types offer different services.
With ReputationStacker, getting feedback is as easy as entering customer contact information into the system. It reaches out to those customers with a one-question survey that identifies the people who are happy with your services. They're directed to the review site of your choice. Unhappy customers are funneled back to you so you can learn about their complaints. Between those publicly-posted positive reviews and the private criticism you receive, ReputationStacker will help you find out exactly what your customers are thinking.
Step Two: Make Changes
It doesn't take long to gather a lot of customer data using ReputationStacker's automated system. As you sift through your reviews, make note of patterns you see. Do lots of customers mention they love being greeted when they walk through the door, or that your limited hours are a problem? Notice both the things that people love and want more of, and the things that they dislike.
Then make a plan! Identify small changes you can make. Share them with staff and consider sharing them across your social media pages, too. Especially if you plan to fix things that people complain about, advertising those changes is a great way to get people to give you a second look.
Step Three: Assess Progress
Improving customer service isn't a one-time thing. It's an ongoing process. As you tweak your services, tracking customer feedback will tell you how you're doing so you can identify new problems as they arise.
Getting feedback this way is so much faster than the old way, which required owners and managers to talk to customers individually. Using customer feedback software is easier and gives you more time to deal with, well, the business of running a business!
With ReputationStacker, tracking your new reviews is something you can easily do. You can see all your feedback in one place, and create comprehensive reports that give you a big-picture view of your progress.
Improving your customer service seems daunting but can actually be simple. It all starts with gathering recent, honest feedback from your real customers. Use ReputationStacker's automated system to find out what your customers want from you, then watch the glowing reviews come rolling in.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.