Offering great customer service is the basis of building great business relationships. At Numérique.ca, we take our customer service very seriously. It's what made our reputation and what allows us to often keep customers for over 10 years.
We decided to share with you 5 things we try to do daily to offer the greatest customer service possible to our clients.
Always answer the phonE
At Numérique.ca, it's our first line of defense. The vast majority of companies today install automatic phone systems that coldly greets the customer by inviting them to enter the extension, or press "pound" for more options...
Even though it can be useful in some cases, it remains that it really an impersonnal way to start a relationship with your customers and really gives them the impression that really are just that: customers. Having a human being answer the phone with a smile (yes, you can notice the smile even by phone!) and transfer you to the right department is an important part of humanising our company and making sure we build a great relationship with our customers.
By the way, by doing so, it also allows you to prevent your customers from making mistakes by, for example, being transfered to accounting instead of customer support. Make sure you have a real person LISTEN to what they have to say and is able to quickly transfer the call to the right department.
PERsonnalize your approach
Everyone is different and has different expectations on what is great customer service, so it's important to make sure to always start a conversation in the same manner to standardize your first approach (always be polite and professional at first).
Once you start getting to know the customer's personnality, you're often able to adapt. For example, younger customers might start being a little more friendly, and maybe even start integrating emoticons to their e-mails. That doesn't mean you should start putting "LOL"s in your e-mails, but if you can answer in a more personnal way, it really helps to build a true relationship with your customers.
Some customers might want to talk about their latest vacations, while others are always in a hurry and want to get straight to the point. It's really important you respond the way they need you to and personnalizing your approach is part of the solution.
Make a briefing of what you talked about
Between what you're thinking, what you want to say, what you think you said, what you said, what the customer wants to hear, what he hears, what he thinks he understands, what he wants to understand and what he understands, there are 9 different ways we can have problems. So it's important for both parties to have a good briefing on the conversation in the end to make sure that everyone understands the same thing.
To make a good briefing, we often take notes (in an empty e-mail) while talking to them and, at the end of the conversation, we make a first oral brief on what we talked about to make sure we're not missing anything. We also inform them that we'll be sending an e-mail to all parties involved containing a more detailed briefing on what was decided during the conversation.
Afterwards, we update our initial e-mail to explain each item so that it's easy for everyone to understand. By using the same e-mail you used to take your notes, you're making sure you're not forgetting anything and it allows you to have everything already prepared to be sent just a couple of minutes after the conversation. Which brings me to my next tip...
Process their requests quickly (or warn them if there are delays)
Everyone is always in a hurry. If someone took the time to call you about something, it's probably because he's having a problem RIGHT NOW and he wants it to be fixed quickly.
I know we can't always fix it in the next couple of minutes, so when there are delays, it's important to tell the client when you plan on doing it so that he's not left in the dark. At Numérique.ca, we find it so important to process all these small requests that we keep 25% of our daily time just to process them to make sure they're done quickly. It really helps in preventing that a client needs to wait weeks, or even months (we've heard it happens...!) before their request is done.
Follow-up... and then, make more follow-ups!
Making follow-ups is the last major tip and the main reason why we recently hired another project manager. Customers need to have the feeling they're being taken care of, that everything is giong to be ok, and our #1 weapon in doing so is follow-ups.
During the entire lenght of the process, you have to follow-up on your customers. Whether it's before your customer signs your quote (to make sure he received it and if he has any questions), during your work (to talk about what's done and follow-up on the various tasks the customer needs to complete) or after finishing the project (to make sure all his needs are met and if he has any other requests), having good follow-ups doesn't only allow you to make your customers feel secure, but they also allow you to discover more problems that you can fix (which also brings you more business).
Just remember, the more time you spend with a customer and the better your relationship with them, the more inclined he'll be to stay with you for a long time. Always keep that in mind!