Make Customer Service Your New Year’s Resolution

Most business owners recognise that delivering good customer service is important, but relatively few have a clear understanding of exactly how important it is. The reality is that the difference between delivering good and bad customer service can be the difference between a company succeeding or failing.

Research from a 2011 American Express survey found that 78 percent of consumers have ended a planned transaction after experiencing a poor standard of customer support, while 59 percent would be willing to try a new company if it meant receiving a better customer experience. Within the context of your business, this could mean valuable customers turning to competitors purely because you failed them from a customer service perspective.

Failing to live up to your customers’ expectations can also have other consequences, especially in terms of reputation, as news of poor customer service will generally reach twice as many people as reports of a positive experience. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that you make customer service your top priority in 2016.

Use of Metrics

Despite the potential reach of those reporting a bad experience, the average business hears from just four percent of its dissatisfied customers, according to information published by customer support expert Ruby Newell-Legner. Essentially, this means that many companies are oblivious to their own failings.

Studies show that one of the best ways small businesses can differentiate themselves from major corporations is by delivering good quality service. Unfortunately, living in ignorance does not help you to resolve problems, which inevitably exist. In order to do this, you need to measure the performance of your team and analyse the metrics.

For instance, if call handling is a fundamental part of your business, measure the number of customer issues that are resolved by the first person they come into contact with, and record the number of customers who give up on a call before their problem is resolved. If your business is more face-to-face, you may wish to focus on the speed at which issues are resolved. Look for areas of weakness within your metrics and focus on improving these aspects.

Staff Competence

Most people recognise poor customer service or call handling when they experience it, but what actually constitutes a good service? Research published in the Genesys Global Survey shows that the absolute most important factor is staff competence and this is an idea you should pay particular attention to.

It is absolutely critical that your customer service team have a strong knowledge of your products and/or services and have undergone sufficient customer service training, yet many companies place incompetent staff in direct contact with customers. In fact, figures from Harris Interactive show that only 50 percent of customer questions are actually answered by customer service agents, which is unforgivable.

As you identify weaknesses within your team, you should address them swiftly through training, and work with individuals to set realistic, measurable goals. Approximately 70 percent of people are willing to spend more money with companies that provide an excellent customer experience, so the incentive to deliver that for them is clear.