Today customer experience is everything. Brands are faced with increased barriers when trying to form positive brand sentiment among customers and prospects, and customers are becoming increasingly hard to please as their expectations grow. Additionally, creating brand loyalists can be a powerful way to build a client base from word of mouth referrals, and from positive customer reviews displayed online.
A recent survey found that 74% of customers indicate that a positive online review makes them more likely to trust a business. The best way to acquire online reviews, improve brand sentiment and gain word of mouth referrals is to provide amazing customer service.
1. Set Clear Expectations and Exceed Them When Possible
Before closing a new deal, enterprise businesses and customers typically agree on an SLA or Service Level Agreement. This agreement commits the vendor to provide a certain level of customer support. Common points discussed in an SLA relate to average customer support response time, platform uptime, and how escalations will be handled should a major issue arise. The SLA serves to protect the customer and the vendor by setting clear expectations that both parties agree to beforehand.
While a traditional SLA might be called for when a sizable financial commitment is made, it doesn’t usually make sense for B2C or small to medium-sized B2B companies. Rather than rely on a typical SLA, these companies should just make it clear at the beginning what customers should expect from customer support. Once these expectations are defined, all teams should work diligently to exceed customer expectations consistently.
Zappos is a great example of a company that provides customer service that exceeds expectations. When a customer ordered six pairs of shoes from the online retailer, Zappos mailed the customer flowers as a thank you.
2. Help Customers Get More Out of Your Product
For readers selling a product, the best way to create an unforgettable customer service experience is to make sure the customer is successful using the product in question. Sometimes this may mean that a customer service agent needs to offer a customer unsolicited advice about how best to use the tool in question.
To make customers more successful, some companies in the Saas (software as a service) space have started creating “Customer Success” departments”. Customer success teams are charged with proactively engaging with customers to make sure customers are successful with a product. To that end, a customer success person may ask to schedule quarterly review calls to discuss how the platform is serving the customer’s broader goals and what else the customer might do with the tool to reach those goals.
Other businesses can borrow this new trend in saas companies by periodically checking in with their clients to make sure the are satisfied with the product and to recommend other ways a customer could use the product to be even more fruitful and satisfied.
3. Send Tailored Messages to Customers
To provide amazing customer service experiences, businesses need to begin sending customers behavior based messages that are based on actions taken by the customer. These messages should be contextual to the client’s behavior and should add value to the product or service.
There are some different tools available to businesses who are interested in personalizing messages to customers at scale. Email automation tools like Autopilot allow marketers and product managers to send premade emails to customers based on a customer’s lifecycle stage, behavior, or survey feedback for example. Other tools like Intercom allow companies to send instant 1-1 messages to customers as they navigate within a software platform.
By harnessing new technologies to send personalized messages to customers, businesses can increase customer satisfaction. Sharing timely and relevant content will make customers more successful and will help to reduce the amount of time needed to speak with customer support representatives.
4. Make Customers Feel Special By Giving Them Behind the Scenes Access
According to a recent study, 78% of respondents said that they would prefer to spend money on a desirable experience over pleasant things. Today, people want to have memorable and unique experiences. Brands who want to provide amazing customer service are already treating customers to unforgettable behind the scenes experiences. These events allow customers to connect with the brands they feel passionately about, and help brands build stronger sentiment among customers.
The Dutch beer maker, Heineken, created the “Heineken Experience,” an opportunity for loyal fans of the brand to see how the beer is made. Salesforce (the leading CRM software) created Dreamforce, a 100,000 person week-long event designed to excite customers about future platform improvements.
Brands hoping to create unforgettable customer service experiences should remember that most customers crave exclusive access to live events. Creating even a small customer appreciation event can go a long way to satisfying customers.
5. Know How to Handle Difficult Customers
Unfortunately, some customers can be difficult to serve. Rather than send an angry email to a frustrated customer, it’s better to train customer service representatives about how to appropriately respond to an angry email from a customer. Customer service teams should proactively develop a playbook that guides customer service agents when talking to frustrated or angry customers in a way that preserves the brand’s reputation and that diffuses the situation as best as possible.
Providing adequate customer service will no longer cut it in today’s competitive environment. Most clients can order items online and have them instantly delivered to their door. If for any reason they aren’t satisfied, then large e-commerce companies usually offer an immediate and full refund. That is just one of many examples of why customers have increasingly high standards of what customer service should provide. Businesses should follow the tips outlined in this article to exceed customer service expectations.