Remember that time you received less-than-stellar service from a business, then enthusiastically returned to spend money there again?
Oh, right. Me neither!
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the quality of your customer service matters more than ever. Regardless of the size or tenure of your business, delivering an excellent experience to your customers is officially table stakes—a non-negotiable, absolute must. Consumers consistently report that they’re not only willing to pay more for a better experience, but that they’ll specifically choose to do business with a company that delivers a better customer experience over a less expensive company with less-than-perfect service.
Transforming the customer experience for your business is a big task, though, and it might feel overwhelming at first blush. My advice? Don’t boil the ocean! Focus on what you can do right now, right this very second, to make small improvements in your customers’ overall experience. Work your way up to the fireworks gradually. Lay the groundwork for a renewed focus on customer experience culturally and as an organization, encourage innovation, and watch the magic unfold.
With that in mind, let’s focus on some simple ways you can start surprising and delighting your customers right now:
I could talk all day about the power that lies in small gestures of kindness, and handwritten notecards pack one of the mightiest punches. There is something so charming, so human about receiving a note written in someone’s own hand. You’re reminded that the person behind the phone (or email, or desk) is, in fact, a person.
Why does that matter? Because human beings are emotional creatures; we not only thrive on connection, we require it. Notecards are a sweet, simple way to reach out and make a genuine connection with your customer.
I’m a proponent of notecards for virtually any business. There’s no reason not to follow up with a customer after a transaction or interaction with a simple card and, “It was great connecting with you today!” The bonus? If your customers were on the fence after their first interaction with your business, the added touch of a handwritten note might just ease their mind.
Woe to the customer service organization that does not take advantage of follow-up calls! Wasn’t it Shakespeare who said that?
Follow-up calls are the perfect added touch to responding to a customer complaint, and they require very little administrative management. It’s a simple, straightforward way to create a proactive, high-touch customer service experience without jumping through a billion hoops. What’s there to lose?
The next time you’ve resolved a customer issue, wrap it up by letting them know you’ll reach out again in a week or two to check in. (As a general rule, I use one-week follow-ups for serious complaints and two-week follow-ups for general check-ins.) Telling them you’re planning to reach out is an important step too! During a critical moment in the customer journey, they’re reassured that you’re there for them, and they can count on you to stay on top of things.
A “Do the Right Thing” Policy
This one might feel controversial, but it’s important: let your customer service agents “do the right thing.” Wherever possible, grant them autonomy to bend the rules when it’s the right thing to do. You’ll earn some employee engagement (critical to creating a great customer experience), as well as some customer trust. Win-win!
I’m not talking about anything too drastic, like price adjustments or similar changes that might negatively affect your business. Instead, think about things like your cancellation policy; do you require a 30-day notice to cancel? Allow your customer service team to waive that notice if the customer has already stopped using the service. Or how about billing changes; are retroactive billing changes prohibited? Perhaps you can allow your team to perform those for longtime customers in good standing.
Regardless of how you choose to apply it, encourage your customer service team to connect, empathize with, and truly understand your customers. Reassuring them that their goal should always be to “do the right thing” for the customer is a great first step.
Improving or implementing customer experience for your business doesn’t have to be a dramatic, tiring, expensive undertaking. Try making small changes to your processes today, track the effect on things like churn or NPS, make changes as-needed, and watch your customer satisfaction grow!
About The Author
Christina Burns is the VP of Service at Ruby Receptionists and a recognized customer experience leader. Her blog shares insights and best practices for others in the field and those who want to up their customer service game. She's been in the industry for over a decade and has a passion for helping businesses focus on customer experience as a key business metric. Christina wholeheartedly believes fantastic customer service can make the world a better place.