This is Block 81's archive of past articles. Once in a while we may add more, but it's rare.
Block 81 is a design studio producing beautifully crafted websites and brands for independent businesses and startups.
February 27, 2017
Customer service outcomes rarely depend on the customer. They depend on how you handle the situation.
With social media, websites, email and phone as options for customer service, you probably have your hands full. But that’s no reason for poor customer service.
Instead, work to improve outcomes and create happier customers who are thrilled to spread the word. Think of it as positive marketing and a way to create loyal customers.
Take a look at most business websites and you’ll see something about “fast customer service” or “quality customer service” or something similar. If you make that claim, it becomes part of your branding. If you claim to put customers first, but it takes you several days to respond to a message or the response doesn’t address the customer’s question, customers will wonder what else isn’t true about your brand.
All it takes is one mistake to ruin a brand’s reputation. After all, as Lululemon learned, the wrong response to customer complaints can lead to viral publicity and not in a good way.
On the other hand, Nordstrom is renowned for customer service. It’s just part of their branding. The store has even went so far as to process a return on tires, something the store doesn’t even carry, simply because the previous store in that building sold tires
One of the easiest ways to improve customer service outcomes is to simply respond. A poor response is bad enough, but when customers don’t receive a response at all, they don’t think you care. This leads to angry customers who talk about the lack of customer service. Even if you have the best products or services, no one will want to interact with your brand because of the customer service complaints.
Think of it as positive marketing and a way to create loyal customers.
It doesn’t matter how great of a business you are and how well you handle customer service, you will receive negative feedback. First of all, don’t get angry. Second, respond in a positive way. Instead of blaming the customer or getting defensive, try to offer up a solution.
Maybe the product wasn’t quite the color they were expecting or they used it incorrectly and it broke. Take the opportunity to turn that dissatisfied customer into a happy one by addressing their concerns. Offer a replacement or tips to get more from their product.
Negative feedback isn’t a dig against your brand. Instead, it’s a chance to learn. However, if you never respond to it, it could hurt your brand’s reputation for customer service.
Look at your website for a moment. Is there an easy way for customers to leave feedback or ask questions? You might have a phone number listed, but how many people actually want to call customer service and possibly wait on hold? If you want better customer service outcomes, start the process off right by offering better ways for customers to leave you feedback.
A contact form, an email address or a feedback form are all perfect ways to show customers that you want to help them on their terms. Just make sure you respond in a timely manner. You can even offer support via social media, but be sure to list availability so customers know when to ask questions.
No one likes to be ignored. If your customers don’t feel heard, they get upset and they talk about it to friends and family. With 88% of customers being influenced by customer service reviews, you don’t want anyone spreading the word about poor service. Instead, respond as quickly as possible to every customer question or complaint. Even if it’s just a simple answer until you can find the correct solution to their problem, it still makes the customer feel like you care and want to help them.
Finally, listen to what your customers are saying. Do you receive certain complaints often? Are customers sending you the same suggestion over and over again? Take note of what customers want. This is one of the best ways to grow your business and brand.
As you make changes that customers have suggested, give them credit. This not only makes them feel heard, but shows that your business cares more about the customer than the bottom line. Just look at Domino’s and how they turned business around by listening to what customers wanted.
If you focus on better customer service outcomes, you have a chance to create loyal customers for life. Listen and work to fix customers’ problems in a timely manner and you can proudly claim that you do offer fast, friendly and high-quality customer service.