As the saying goes, “You can’t please everyone.” But when it comes to business, pleasing your customers should always be your top priority.
Developing long-lasting relationships is crucial to any company’s success, and customer service teams play a central role in maintaining them. However, quality customer support isn’t just a matter of solving a problem for someone who needs help. It involves following a well-planned strategy designed to keep buyers happy.
This sort of financial investment goes a long way: and it isn’t lost on customers. According to a recent survey conducted by Gartner Peer Community on behalf of Fusion Connect, 91% of businesses would pay more per year for better customer service. A majority (52%) are willing to pay 6% to 15% extra, and nearly a quarter (24%) are open to paying whatever it takes to receive an improved experience.
Why? Because the level of support a company provides is increasing in value. Salesforce recently determined that 88% of buyers believe the customer experience (CX) is as important to a transaction as the product or service itself.
If organizations get something wrong, they can’t afford to double down on their mistakes by not coming through if they have a second chance to get it right. That makes the customer service team businesses’ first line of defense against deteriorating relationships.
To ensure your team maintains your company’s clients effectively, you must bring together well-qualified individuals who can understand buyers’ needs, easily build connections, and consistently back up the promises you’ve made.
It’s a tried-and-true process that, unfortunately, can become unnecessarily overcomplicated. Here’s how to keep things simple by using the proven and reliable gears that can drive your business success by having your customers returning time and again.
Find the Right People
The agents who excel at maintaining client relationships take the right approach to customer service well before any call is answered or any reply is sent.
They’re personable, hospitable, and kind in every aspect of their lives. They understand that putting the customer first is their responsibility and that they must take pride in representing their organization.
When seeking new team members, those traits must be emphasized above all others. After all, in this role, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are if you lack compassion.
Once that box has been checked, look for analytical and technical prowess. Here’s why:
- Customers expect fast and accurate responses to their inquiries: and your agent’s ability to quickly analyze and solve problems is crucial to providing high-quality service.
- Technical knowledge is often required to navigate complex systems and assess detailed issues. Representatives who have those skills can identify patterns, troubleshoot errors, and offer comprehensive solutions, ultimately leading to greater satisfaction.
If your agents don’t have those two additional characteristics don’t worry. You can sharpen them through training and continued exposure.
You may also wish to train vital soft skills, such as:
- Active listening, which allows your agents to fully understand your customer’s concerns and issues.
- Time management, which is essential in situations where they must juggle multiple interactions at once.
- And critically, patience, which is needed since it can be challenging to handle difficult situations with grace.
Why are those skills important? Because in the Gartner Peer Community survey, 40% of respondents recommend a product or service to others immediately after a positive business experience. Agents who take the most optimistic, constructive, and reassuring approach can lift up someone who’s feeling down and defeated.
You can’t keep your customers, let alone keep them happy, if you fail to demonstrate that you understand their predicaments and are committed to resolving them.
Know Your Audience
Every customer has different needs and expectations. That’s why truly understanding what they’re about and “meeting them where they are” have become the most important aspects of providing quality support.
Consider the differences in working with enterprise clients and smaller companies. A large business will have fully-built departments (such as finance or IT), with individuals in defined roles.
For these customers, dedicate someone (or a small team of people) to that account, make introductions, and get everyone up to speed on how your company can deliver the best support possible. Once you begin proving your value to that customer, they’ll consider you more of a partner, not a vendor.
On the other hand, small businesses typically don’t have account managers or IT teams, so your agents are often speaking directly with the owners, and every minute spent with your support team is one they’re not making money.
In this environment, those interactions must be quick. Skip the in-depth conversations, take control of the issues, vow to resolve them on their behalf, and get them back to work as fast as possible. Successfully delivering what you promised will earn their trust and keep that business agreement going.
What’s the simplest way to keep customers coming back for more? Delivering results.
Your approaches to business-to-business (B2B) service and business-to-consumer (B2C) service should differ, too. If you’re working with another business, your goal must be to continually make it look good in its customers’ eyes by supplying what you’ve agreed upon without any hiccups.
- In B2B, don’t leave the client holding the bag for your mistakes. In B2C, it’s your own relationship to manage.
- Provide fast, convenient, and responsive assistance for both B2B and B2C through multiple channels and self-service options to meet their needs. Focus on delivering an exceptional experience that builds loyalty and drives repeat sales.
Regardless of who you’re serving, if you understand exactly what your customers expect from you, you can ensure your team is there for them and can make those relationships last.
Plan to Prove Your Worth (Often)
What’s the simplest way to keep customers coming back for more? Delivering results.
In the Gartner Peer Community survey, 67% of businesses said unresolved issues led to a negative customer experience that cost their company money. When too many things break down during an interaction, the buyer is left questioning whether to move forward or move on.
It goes without saying that you should never be in that position, but if you are, your support team must be prepared to prove your value.
- Always have data and other supporting information available to demonstrate you’re backing up your promises.
- If the service you provide to a buyer is complex, highlight the most relevant points so your customer doesn’t need to decipher what it all means.
Your internal processes should also be geared toward generating feedback and using it to improve the CX.
- If an agent thinks something is trending south during an interaction, have them reach out for help or flag the discussion once it’s over so leadership can follow up.
- Consider having someone in leadership — a vice president, if possible, or at least another senior manager — call the client if something has gone wrong so you can personally vow to make it right.
- Review any data you collect from surveys, especially if the responses show a negative experience. The messaging afterward must always be the same. Reinforce that you value having them as a customer and that you’re committed to getting things right.
And, at the most fundamental level, make sure how you’re assisting a customer has been outlined as part of any sales agreement: and that their request doesn’t go against the terms of the deal. This protects you from discrepancies in how support is provided or potentially damaging demands that could be costly or impossible to fulfill.
Your customer service team has to know how to do it all.
If Sales and Support are on the same page, you’ll know what’s being sold to whom and be in a position to back it up with excellent service.
When customers get what they’ve paid for — and the quality service that goes with it — you become indispensable.
Satisfaction Always Stands Out
It’s no secret that a satisfying experience with a business can keep customers coming back for more, but what is often overlooked is how pivotal your support team is to client retention.
Some buyers may require a formal and professional tone, but others may prefer a personal and friendly touch. Some are going to rely on you frequently and some will only reach out periodically. Some may prefer to contact you via a specific support channel, while others may want a multichannel approach.
Your customer service team has to know how to do it all. And if it does, you’ll stand out from your competitors, satisfy your clients, and repeatedly maintain that business relationship.