In business, customer care is paramount. Happy customers will become loyal customers who return for more and will spread the good word about your business to their friends and family. Customer Care is not just about having a good customer care team, but includes many other elements. Start with a high quality product or service, which is a good value for money, provided quickly and efficiently by friendly and courteous members of staff, where necessary including a good after-sales service and you already have an excellent grounding for caring effectively for your customers.
Policies and Values
Its important to have customer care policies set-up so staff and employees know the core values and principals, ensuring that customers get the best possible service from your company. Part of this will involve training employees so that they interact with customers in the best possible way, professionally and politely and thus present the best image for the company. It’s important to have certain principals in place in order to provide the best service:
- Publish clear and help information on the services you offer
- Respond to any complaints quickly and politely.
- Make realistic promises
- Seek and encourage customer feedback
- Provide a safe and secure environment
Educating staff in certain concepts will help the business no end. Train them to do with customers. Always remaining positive, never giving negative replies or telling customers that they cannot help them (but instead offering to find the answer to their queries).
Being Clear and Concise
It’s important to be clear and concise about the services that you offer to avoid confusion. The reasons are two fold. Firstly, if potential customers know what they are getting they will be more likely to buy a service from you and hopefully become one of your loyal customers. Secondly, things like misleading adverts, badly written web-pages or unclear marketing campaigns might well cause you to be subject to legal action if someone reports you to the Advertising Standards Agency. The Codes on what should and shouldn’t be included can be found on their website.
It is important to regularly contact customers and see what they think of the service and how it can be improved. Ensure a customer service team is in place to deal with complaints and queries. One of the best and most simple methods for encouraging this is by the use of NGN’s. Non-Geographical Numbers (or NGN for short) are telephone numbers that are not linked to a location. These are broken down into various types but the most common are 0800 numbers and 0845 numbers, with which we are all familiar. These numbers are important for various reasons, the most obvious of which is the fact that they give a “national” image to even the smallest company. Generally members of the public are under the impression that national companies are more interested in customer care and have more money devoted to it, so in this area, image is everything, yet it is only half the story. NGN’s can be set-up to divert to your standard telephone number or even a mobile number and thus you can keep your standard, local number private where necessary.
In the same vein, every modern company needs a web presence. A well designed website can help your business no end. Once again giving the impression of a professional national company it will also allow customers to easily get your details if they need to contact you. A good website also incorporates a contact page with email forwarding facilities, this allows customers to fill out a web form and send you an email automatically without having to open their own email client and risk mistyping your email address. This has the added benefit that you can specify subjects and headings under which the customer is contacting you (e.g. question about deliver or a question on how to return a faulty product) as well as specific other details like the customers phone number and home address (where relevant). For online based companies a contact page is especially important. More and more companies have an online chat system so customers can communicate quickly with members of the customer care team without having to use a phone or wait for a reply to an email. This is preferable to replying to emails within 24 hours, although, even a speedy reply such as that is key.
To make the customers life easy it is also a good idea to have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on your website. Work out what the most commonly asked questions are that your customers might ask and compile them into an easy to search page. This will allow customers to help themselves as much as possible and saves any delay in response to their queries.
Giving customers the chance to voice their opinion is an important measure. Setting up a customer satisfaction survey or questionnaire can be helpful in finding weaknesses in your company and improving them where possible.
Key Performance Indicators
It’s a good idea to have systems in place to identify how satisfied your customers are. Tracking things like customer complaint levels, product return rates (or refund requests), returning customer orders or levels of marketing material sent out versus revenue generated because of them can help show how well your company is performing in the customer care arena.
Providing your loyal customers with rewards is a good way to strengthen relationships and encourage new ones. Keeping your customers coming back is cheaper and easier than seeking new business so using loyalty discount schemes, recommend-a-friend schemes or other related marketing strategies will only help to improve your business and elevate customer satisfaction. You will have to look at your market and the service/products you offer and consider the best possible options for you.
If you have a work place or place of business where members of the public will pass, security is an important part of customer service. CCTV monitoring will hopefully prevent and deter theft while at the same time providing an air of confidence to both customers, staff and partners that might be visiting the premises.
Take care not to be closed-minded when it comes to your customer base. Remember that partners might well be customers too. Depending on your business type, distributors, advertising agencies, suppliers and many others whom you interact with in order to carry out your business will need to be treated with the same level of customer care. Upsetting a supplier or distributor could damage your sales and your business. Even colleagues within your business might well be seen as customers in certain circumstances, especially in larger companies where various teams interact to provide the end result.
Hints and Tips For Customer Care Staff
- Dealing with difficult customers – If dealing with abusive or rude customers, keep your cool and if you find you cannot, try involving another member of staff in the situation.
- Telephone calls – Answer telephone calls quickly, being polite and courteous.
- Letters of complaint – When replying to a letter of complaint keep it short and to the point, but be polite and personal, don’t send out standard template letters.
- Positive Response – Always give positive responses. Even if you don’t know personally or cannot help, direct the customer to the right department or let them know that you will find out for them.
The Points To Remember
It is important to remember that customer complaints are only one end of the spectrum. Provide the best service you can and you will minimise the levels of complaints that will come in. Remember that people who complain will be the minority, but they might well be voicing the thoughts of the masses in general. Take complaints seriously and use them as an opportunity to improve your business. Remember in setting up your business that The Company Warehouse is here to help you on the path to success. Order a non-geographic number to help give your company a “national” and professional feel, even when you are just starting out. Potential customers will be far more likely to ring a freephone number both to place orders or to complain. Both sorts of phone call are valuable to your business. We can provide you with a domain name and a well designed website with a contact page. These pages include a contact form to allow customers to send you an automated e-mail with easy and speed. Be sure to answer these quickly to meet your customers need and grow a loyal customer base. Well designed Logo’s, letterheads and other corporate identity items will help give your company a professional feel and appeal to customers. All these elements are part of caring for customers.