If it’s been hard for you to keep your business afloat while also maintaining stellar customer service, you’re not alone. The disruptions that businesses have felt as a result of COVID-19 are staggering. Now is not the time to let your customer service standards slip. Instead, take this time to enhance your customer service skills—reflect on who your customers are and what products or services you can offer them. This blog explores how you can develop a deeper understanding of what customer service means for your organization and how you can exceed expectations during these trying times.
Best Practices in Customer Service
With competitors at every turn, customers have a lot of options. Today’s consumer standards are higher than ever, so it’s important that your organization shines brighter than all the rest. Using your empathy to understand your customers is how you start. Consumers today value having a good experience with your company, getting help quickly when needed, access to personalized service interactions and quality that matches convenience.
In order to provide high-quality customer service, you need to truly understand your customers. Here’s how to do this:
- Consider who your target audience is. Once you understand who that is, express empathy for this audience. This will help you determine their needs so that you can match your products and services to them
- Encourage feedback, including negative reviews. All feedback is good feedback. Negative feedback may sting, but it will provide you with an opportunity for growth
- Follow up with customers after they’ve provided feedback to demonstrate that you care about what they have to say
- Connect authentically with your customers by actively listening to them and generating content that encourages conversation rather than driving clicks
“The customer is always right” is no longer the golden rule. The fact of the matter is, the customer is sometimes wrong. And when you place all your faith in the customer, you alienate your employees rather than uplifting them to be the best they can be, which is key when it comes to providing outstanding customer service. Knowing this, we have to consider what is really at the root of how to provide the best customer service experience ever.
Here are some of the current best practices in customer service based on data collected from today’s consumers. If you’re noticing some items on this list that you haven’t tried yet, implementing them now during the COVID-19 pandemic may help your business make a quicker recovery when things start to reopen. If you’re already doing these things, keep it up! Still, you should continue to ask yourself where there might be room for improvement.
- Be available when customers have questions or concerns. This includes always answering business calls and emails
- Listening to your customers shows them how much you care about their ideas and concerns
- When you receive complaints, show the customer that you value their input and are making an effort to rectify the problem
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t set your customers up for disappointment! Be honest if they ask you for something you’re not sure you can provide. Offer alternatives and trust them to make the choices that are right for them. This will earn you their respect, and even if they don’t make a purchase with you immediately, they’ll likely remember you for future needs
- Be helpful, even if it means lost profit. Remember that customers like to feel more valuable than just the income they might bring you
- Invest in good staff training so that all employees are on the same page and have received the information and training they need to best represent your organization
Risks the Coronavirus Pandemic Poses to Your Customer Service Performance
The pandemic has thrown some real challenges at businesses and customer service representatives. Many people who are working on the front lines of customer interaction are fearful for their own health. Individuals such as medical workers, police officers, cashiers, janitors and others are all working hard to provide essential services, which places them at higher risk.
Being at risk places high pressure on these employees, increasing stress while on the job. These individuals are starting to experience higher rates of anxiety, fear and feelings of being overwhelmed – along with increased pressure to work despite these issues. As a result, consumers are noticing a change in some customer service experiences. Many are feeling angry about cancelled services, low stock on certain items and much more. This brings more frustration and feelings of defeat to customer service employees. As the first point of contact for many customers, it’s important for managers to be aware of the stressors their teams are facing.
How to Maintain Outstanding Customer Service During the Pandemic
So, with these unique and unprecedented challenges putting everyone in a frenzy, how can you and your organization maintain outstanding customer service and even exceed expectations? It can be done!
According to business experts, the primary focus of leadership during this time should be on the health and wellbeing of their employees. Think of your employees as customers, too. When you treat them with respect and care, and they will find it easier to perform well, even under pressure.
Furthermore, there are several things you can keep in mind moving forward:
- Cut costs where you can, but do not jump to any hasty decisions to cut costs in areas where your customers will feel it and have a diminished experience. For example, keep your customer service and janitorial staff
- Be up front with both employees and customers about the changes you’re making during this time and why. Reassure them that you’ll be continuing to make changes based on feedback and encourage customers to continue to engage with you online, leaving reviews and sharing what you have to offer
- Acknowledge any feedback you receive. Devise tactics to overcome the shortcomings customers are noticing and let them know how you’re working on making things better
- Use empathy and emotional intelligence. We mentioned before that best practices in customer service include using empathy to anticipate the needs of your customers. They need that now more than ever. Many of your customers may have lost their income, so your efforts at advertising need to acknowledge that while they may not have money to spend with you right now, you’re still here for them
- Provide training for customer service employees who are navigating this crisis on the front lines. Any ounce of training you can provide for your hardworking staff will help your organization stand out as one of the few that provided stellar service amidst the chaos
- Create a culture of positivity in your organization. This may seem like a strange time to work on enhancing a company culture of positivity and support, but when you show employees that they are valued, and they will pass this on to customers
- Reach out once things start to go back to normal. Again, call on your empathy. Find ways to engage with your customers once society is moving again. They will appreciate the concern and the initiative you are taking to be there for them
Although times are indeed turbulent and much is up in the air, it’s important to continually work on sharpening your competitive edge. KnowledgeCity is here to help you navigate this with the course “Exceeding Customer Expectations,” which explores how to identify your customer base beyond just their demographics. This course will help you get to the root of understanding your customers by understanding their needs and values. We will also show you how you can foster customer loyalty. From there, you will learn how to strategically alter your methods of conducting business to put an emphasis on outstanding customer care.