According to a study undertaken by Professor Merlin Stone of Oxford Brookes University, £3.39 billion of business has been lost by UK firms over the last two years.
It’s believed that UK businesses are losing trade due to their inability to adequately meet the needs of consumers. Professor Stone stated that:
“Organisations have to work harder than ever to keep their best customers.”
He went on to say that the internet has given people the ability to source and contact alternative providers. Consumers have evidently become increasingly more demanding and discerning and with the rise of price comparison websites it has become much easier to compare and “switch” products.
For any business – big or small, better value and service has to be the focus for the future, otherwise it will become increasingly difficult to compete with their rivals in the long run.
So, how can you enhance customer service?
1. Try to make your customer service staff feel valued – they ARE an important part of your business. Remember – if they’re not happy then it’s highly unlikely that they will deliver quality customer service. Good staff and good staff morale are key players in the success of your company.
2. Lead by example – it is important to show your staff respect and this should be synonymous at every level of your business. If you show employees the respect they deserve then this will be translated to your customers as well.
3. Listen to your customers and try to identify common areas of complaints and issues that come up more frequently than others. Ask your customers what you can do to help – this is a key step in preventing problems and is really the only solution when a problem arises.
4. Aim to resolve issues and complaints as soon as possible. Remember, keeping the customer happy is key, especially if you want that customer to keep coming back to buy from you again and again.
5. Enhance the workplace. If your staff are happy and comfortable in the environment they work in then you will see the benefits. Happy staff = happy customers.
6. Pay competitive salaries. It’s important to remember that the customer service industry is well known for poor pay and can result in a high turn-over of staff. Remember – customer service can be a very hard job and therefore it is important to show your staff that the company cares about them.
7. With increasing numbers of people turning to the internet for goods and services it’s important to remember that speed and quality of service is of the essence. For many customers call-centres can be increasingly difficult to get through to. Therefore, why not encourage customers to use email and live messaging (i.e. MSN/Yahoo) services? If you do plan on putting something like this in place it’s important to have competitive response times and clear, concise answers for problems prepared. Remember – online a customer has the ability to rant (positively or negatively) on a blog, Facebook, Twitter, forums or other mediums available to them. What your company delivers in terms of service can come back to haunt you.
8. Train your staff. This is crucial, poorly trained staff can lead to all manner of complications – from misunderstanding the products (and the customer’s needs) to putting the customer on hold for extended periods of time.
9. Automate your sales process if you operate online. Once a customer has bought a service / item from you then send them an automated email that gives them confirmation of the transaction. Most customers that shop online have come to expect this.
10. Celebrate successes and share failures. Success and failure can be used constructively as a means of educating staff members into the correct and wrong way to handle customers. Failure should be used as an opportunity for you and your employees to analyse what went wrong and what could be changed for the future.