Good or Bad Customer Service Can Make All the Difference
In the business world, Customer Service might refer to the name of your team or department. But as a customer, Customer Service is an experience. Think of a time when you had the worst "customer service". It might remind you of hours wasted waiting on hold, repeating information to representatives, and not getting your problems resolved.
Why does someone have a bad customer service experience? Because many customer service teams aren't actually working to serve their customers. Instead, customer service departments treat customers like case numbers rather than as people. Customers are forced to complete long forms or navigate complicated phone trees, instead of using the familiar communication channels that they prefer to get the help that they need.
But, worst of all, customers aren't empowered to succeed when they require help -- instead, they receive poor information to answer their questions, are transferred between various people or departments, and ultimately not given the tools needed to solve their problem.
The dire state of modern customer service is a real shame -- because as it turns out, helping your customers succeed actually helps your company, too. In fact, in a recent HubSpot Research survey, they found that companies that prioritized customer success were also more likely to grow their revenue.
97% of IT professionals say that they rely on peer recommendations and ratings/reviews during the buying cycle.
Successful companies have happy customers -- and happy customers grow their business faster than sales and marketing efforts because they tell their friends and family and, eventually, referring new, loyalty customers. Therefore, a customer happiness starts with good customer service, and that will lead to your business’ success.
What is Customer Service?
At its core, customer service is helping customers solve problems – it’s teaching them how to use a product, and answering the questions that they may have along the way.
The definition is in the name of the concept -- customer service is about serving the needs of a customer. Customer service can take many forms -- from troubleshooting a product installation to downloading software to processing a return of purchase.
In most customer service interactions, a customer reaches out to a company to make a request, ask a question, or note a complaint, and a customer service representative (or their team) works quickly to offer support, expertise, and a resolution.
The quality of a company's customer service -- good or bad -- can play a huge role in the company's success. Happy customers spend more money and refer their friends and family members to companies that help them succeed – According to Spiceworks, 97% of IT professionals say that they rely on peer recommendations and ratings/reviews during the buying cycle. That’s a large percentage to rely on, strongly indicating how crucial good customer service is in the role of customer happiness, and therefore, business success.
On the flip side of the coin, unhappy customers with bad experiences spread the word even further among their network, and could actually cost a business its customers and impact it’s reputation. In today’s world of online communication – review sites, blogs, and social media, word travels quickly. Just look below at how many of this Yelp user's friends could see this negative review of a particular store:
If you think customer service (or customer support) are at odds with customer success, think again -- building a strong customer relationship by providing excellent service from the start is a critical building block in helping a customer succeed.
What’s the difference between customer service and customer success? Customer service is typically reactive, where as customer success is proactive. A customer service representatives are responding to individual problems and troubleshooting after something is not right, where as a customer success manager is reaching out to customers as a strategy to provide good service throughout the entire experience.
The Many Tools to Offer Customer Service
For the longest time, many organizations have offered customer service primarily through phone interactions. Customers call a hotline, enter a queue, and a customer service representative picks up the phone.
However, without surprise with modern technology, phone-based customer service is decreasing in popularity to other channels, such as email or a variety of web-based services.
Twilio surveyed consumers to learn about their messaging habits and found that 90% of respondents said they wanted to use text messaging with companies, only 48% of businesses were equipped to reach customers via messaging. Customers want to connect with businesses for things like order confirmations, reminders, status updates, surveys, and coupons. People tend to keep their messaging app notifications turned on on their cell phones, and they usually have their phones with them, so it makes for a convenient form of customer service for the customer.
A lot of customer service is still requested and delivered via email -- where it's still possible to offer a human touch, even over a computer. In fact, Twilio found that email was the second most preferred method of customer service communication for all ages -- which is perhaps a reflection of the time-saving capabilities of submitting requests on your own time, without having to wait on hold.
Zappos is well-known for its commitment to excellent customer service, but this email example might take the cake. It's not replicable for every single customer query, but the rep is clearly committed to delivering service -- and making the customer happy in the process.
Many customers are now turning to DIY customer service methods to get the information they need quickly and easily without having to hop on the phone or wait for an email reply. And in response, businesses are developing knowledge bases, where they publish articles and videos that explain how to use products and services so customers can seek out touchless customer service whenever they need it.
Messaging is quickly becoming the most popular way to seek out customer service help -- and this can take many forms, including text-based messaging (discussed above), messaging apps, and direct messaging on social media (more on that below).
Messaging apps boast more than 5 billion users worldwide. Therefore, businesses are relying on them to offer quick and easy content distribution to their customers.
Customer service through social media channels is becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to communicate with customers, and for good reason -- nearly 80% consumers have shared positive experiences with companies, and 24% recommended companies on social media. It’s an electronic form of word of mouth, and it spreads quickly.
Through social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, customers can get fast and easy responses to their questions. Some businesses even make the experience a little more fun by creating specific accounts just for customer support. Yelp Eat24 uses Twitter to offer great customer service -- while still making customers laugh in the process.
Live chat is another option for offering speedy customer service without forcing your customers to wait on the phone – and, it can be operated by humans or robots -- specifically, chatbots.
Live chat widgets launch on company web pages to offer instant customer support and service. But, live chats require full-time dedication to operate successfully, so some businesses turn to chatbots to operate them more affordably and to start communicating with new leads to save time for sales and customer service staff. By 2020, 85% of the customer-company relationship will be managed with no human interaction
An Example of Good Customer Service
For every bad customer service experience you have had, you probably can also recall a representative or a business that knocked your socks off by going out of the way to solve problems for you.
You may have thought that spending additional time on customer issues wouldn’t pay off for you -- but as we've now learned, happy customers bring better results to your business, so it's worth creating a team culture of dedication and extreme helpfulness.
One such example, The Ritz-Carlton Company, John DiJulius describes the story of his stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel -- when he unknowingly left something behind in his guest room.
I left The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota in such a rush for the airport that I forgot my laptop charger in my room. I planned to call when I got back into my office, but before I could, I received a next-day air package from The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. In it was my charger, with a note saying, 'Mr. DiJulius, I wanted to make sure we got this to you right away. I am sure you need it, and, just in case, I sent you an extra charger for your laptop." The note was signed by Larry K. Kinney, in Loss Prevention .'"
If this customer service story sounds over-the-top good, it's not. Ritz-Carlton's commitment to exceptional customer service is so strong that any employee is independently authorized to spend up to $2,000 per day to improve guest experience.
The Ritz-Carlton prizes employee engagement -- because it believes engagement is the key to cultivating employees who are dedicated to improving customer engagement, and thus, a successful business.
Even if this employee budget exceeds the ability of your organization, you can still cultivate this example of going the extra mile with your customer service to ensure that your customers are happy customers.
Check out these good customer service examples from a few more big brands -- along with actionable takeaways you can bring back to your team. These businesses are within different industries, but all offer employees a tremendous deal of autonomy and resources to go the extra mile to solve customer problems.
Be a Leader in Customer Service
Some of the most well-known business success stories can be credited to great customer service -- at least partly.
Attracting new customers with a fantastic product or service is only half of the journey -- a big part of revenue growth is keeping existing customers so they come back and purchase from you again and again, as well as telling others about their great experience with your business.
Leaders of big brands like Intuit, Pepsico, and Zappos have a lot of wisdom to offer when it comes to customer service -- and that's because they doubled down on it and made it their mission.
Take Amazon, for example, one of the world's biggest companies whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, has been trying to optimize the customer service experience for a long time by making shopping easier. Bezos advocates for "trying to do hard things well" as the cornerstone for improving brand reputation and establishing a positive brand identity. Now, Amazon is known as the quickest and easiest way to buy things you need -- it's as simple as that.
Get yourself and your team inspired to give exceptional customer service by reading customer service quotes about other businesses.
Today, customers are in control. Their expectations for good service is high, and if they are not satisfied with their customer experience, it is minimally painless and virtually cost-free to switch from one company to another.
Successful customers can grow a business faster than targeted sales and marketing efforts, but in order to get there, customer service professionals must take on new channels to communicate and provide good service while still maintaining a genuine human approach.