14 Principles To Follow To Provide Superior Customer Service
Updated June 24, 2022
Customer satisfaction is such a key part of many successful businesses. Most companies have an entire section of their organization dedicated to understanding customers and the customer experience and finding ways they can provide superior service that keeps customers happy. When your company can provide superior customer service, you may notice more sales, happier customers and employees and greater brand awareness in the communities you serve.
In this article, we give the definition of superior customer service and list ways you can provide that experience to customers.
What is superior customer service?
Superior customer service is going beyond the normal interactions with a customer so you can make sure a customer feels heard, appreciated, understood and valued. To achieve this, many companies conduct surveys, perform regular market research, take note of typical customer questions and complaints and show the customer that they have a direct impact on your business.
Use these tips if you want to provide superior service to your customers:
1. Be attentive to the customer's needs
One pillar of creating superior customer service experiences is to make sure you listen to the customers and are attentive to them when they are sharing what they need. Practice active listening so your customers know that you are absorbing what they are saying, and understand their needs, motivations, wants, complaints and more.
For example, maintain eye contact when you're speaking to each other, nod as they describe an issue, answer their questions thoroughly and ask them questions in return to fully understand their issue so you can help.
2. Manage customer expectations
Another way to provide superior customer service is by managing customer expectations from the beginning. One thing that may disappoint a customer is when they expect something from an organization or one of its representatives, and they don't receive it. When you're engaging with a customer, find ways to let them know upfront what they should expect.
For example, if a customer visits your store and decides to purchase an item that's on final sale without refunds, reiterate this point to your customer before you process their payment. If the customer discovers that the product isn't working out as they were hoping, then they already know that your no refund policy is in effect.
3. Exceed expectations
Once you've mastered managing expectations for the customer, you can discover ways to exceed them. Going above and beyond for the customer shows them you value their patronage and want to make them happy. It also helps form trust so they feel more comfortable accepting your opinion, purchasing your products and services and telling others about their experience.
Some ways to exceed expectations include:
Providing a high-quality customer experience.
Solving problems quickly.
Taking all the time a customer needs to come to a purchasing decision.
Genuinely connecting with a customer's interests.
4. Provide follow-up
When a customer has contacted you with a complex issue or question and you have to go through multiple channels to provide a solution, it will probably take longer than something more straightforward. Pay attention to how long a process is taking so you can give regular status updates to the customer. Even if there isn't an update, be sure to still let them know that and provide an explanation for the next steps if possible.
For example, if the customer wants to know if they can host an event at your offices, you may need to get approval from upper management and compliance before you can give the customer an answer. However, the stakeholders in this scenario may be out of the office or need to write a contract before they can give their approval. It's important to follow up with those who are involved in the process so you can provide clear updates to customers during a follow-up call.
5. Ask your customer service representatives
Your customer service representatives are the ones who are in the position to hear the majority of customer complaints, praises and questions. Ask them what they hear regularly from customers, as that can give you a major clue into how you can improve the customer experience. A program that allows representatives to create a history and tickets based on customer interactions and what comes from the conversation can help. With a tool like this, managers or analysts can find trends, identify problems and also see what's currently working.
Read more: Learn About Being a Customer Service Manager
6. Be knowledgeable about your product or service
While you may not have to know every minor detail about the products or services your company offers, the more you know, the more you can help your customers. It's common for customers to have questions before they purchase, but then also ask questions after. They may call in or email with questions or concerns, but if you're able to answer these right away because you have confidence in your knowledge, then you'll satisfy a customer and maybe even exceed their expectations.
7. Aim to please
If you keep customer satisfaction in mind as a goal, then you'll likely take the steps you need to provide superior customer service. You may also think of creative solutions to issues or be able to guide a customer's purchase easier. A customer can also see when you're taking the extra step to give them a great experience, and they'll appreciate your efforts.
8. Always remain professional
When you're working with customers, it's normal to come upon situations where a customer is upset. They may take their frustration out on you as the person who represents the brand. It's important to take the time to listen to the customer, show you want to solve their issue and empathize with their situation.
Especially if a customer is incorrect in the claims they are making or has begun to escalate their voice, it can drive you to respond defensively. Instead, keep a level head and work through the issue with the customer. If you stay professional, chances are you'll help the customer calm down too so they can accept the help you're offering.
9. Provide a smooth experience
Some of our most impactful customer experiences are the ones we are not directly involved in. For example, a customer may purchase your products from the company website instead of visiting the store. In these instances, it's important to make sure they have a smooth experience. The company website should be free of major errors, customers should be able to navigate the website using any of their devices and it should be easy for them to make their selections and input their payment information.
Any interaction a customer has with your company, whether it's in-person or virtual, can make an impact on them and affect how they feel about your brand.
Read more: 10 Communication Skills for Career Success
10. Be responsive
One of the biggest frustrations customers have is when a company representative takes too long to respond to them or doesn't respond at all. This can immediately cause a customer to take their business elsewhere or even talk to their family and friends about their poor experience. Instead, make it easy for the customers to contact you, be approachable and then make sure you answer their inquiries as quickly as possible.
11. Make a powerful first impression
The first impression a customer gets from you or your company is typically long-lasting. You want to make sure you provide them with a great first impression that they'll remember moving forward. For example, greet the customer warmly, use their name throughout the conversation, identify their needs, offer suggestions, answer their questions and thank them for their interest and time.
12. Conduct satisfaction surveys
Any interaction a customer has with your company either leaves them feeling satisfied or dissatisfied. Dissatisfied customers may never let you know why they left disappointed, but if you conduct satisfaction surveys, you can get a real sense of how your company affects its customers. Not only can you learn what you're doing right so you can continue to do it, but you can also learn what opportunities you have to improve and increase overall customer happiness.
Plus, the simple act of conducting these surveys sends the message to your customers that you do care about their satisfaction and want to make sure they get everything from your company that they expect.
13. Work on employee satisfaction
The more satisfied the employees are at an organization, the more able they are to provide superior customer service. Individuals are more likely to go above and beyond if they are happy in their role.
If you are a manager, you can work with your team to identify any ways that you can improve so your team members feel motivated daily. If you're an employee, find ways to make your time at work pleasurable. This can mean speaking with your manager about your responsibilities, finding a friend at work you can enjoy a lunch break with or changing your hours to fit better with what you may have going on outside of work.
14. Provide comprehensive training
Consistency in customer service gives customers a superior experience. Make sure that the training the company provides is comprehensive and clear, and that there are processes in place for certain situations. Any customer service representative or manager should know the basics of what to do when they are up against a question, problem, concern or confusion from a customer. Employees should also receive training on the different aspects of the products or services the company offers so they can better serve the customer.
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