Customer service is increasingly about customer experience. What’s one practical, inexpensive way to adapt your “service” today (e.g., better return policies, new marketing campaigns, more high-touch approaches, etc.)?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.
1. Sincerity Is Serious Service
When you screw up on your side or a customer has trouble with your website, admit the mistake honestly and say what you are doing to fix it. No apologies like, “I’m sorry you feel that way” — respond with, “I’m sorry you’re having trouble with our service.” People want sincerity and will give you the benefit of the doubt if you are open and real. -Nathan Lustig, Entrustet
2. Oh, the Humanity!
Look at the way your customers experience your company and ask yourself if you treat them like a human or an open wallet. If your emails are full of junk jargon and there’s no way to talk to a human, you need some changes. It may not be inexpensive, but compared to losing repeat sales and good will, it’s a worthwhile investment. -Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
3. Better to Be Transparent
One of the most important — yet overlooked — aspects of customer service is being transparent about your processes. It’s a completely inexpensive way to better connect with your customers, especially when things are not working ideally. Consider publishing your customer service policy publicly, or regularly communicating with a customer as they’re going through the service process. -Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
4. Try On Zappos for Size
Take the Zappos approach. Make customer service your number one priority and prove that to your customers. Start by responding to every customer on Twitter and Facebook to increase engagement and keep them happy. -Ben Lang, EpicLaunch
5. Makeshift Account Executives
Trying to write emails on the fly will guarantee that your strategy gets derailed. Write out an editorial calendar, breaking down what will go into each email—at least for the length of the campaign. Personally, I prefer to plan six months in advance—minimum—so I can get ahead and stay ahead. If you’re segmenting your emails, build it into your calendar, as well as promotions. -Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting
6. Follow the Golden Rule
Whether you are making a customer service policy, training a customer service representative or interacting with a customer, keep one thing in mind: how you would like to be treated as the customer. Formulate policies in a way you would accept and understand. Let reps help each individual by finding the best way for that particular situation. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. -Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia
7. Can You Communicate Too Much?
When in doubt, over-communicate with your customers. The last thing in the world your customer wants — especially if you’re in the service business — is to feel like they’re just a number or less important than your other or bigger customers. Treat every customer as if they are your biggest, and keep in touch with them throughout the process, whether things are going well or otherwise. -Justin Beegel, Infographic World, Inc.
8. The Friendly Followup
Simply calling and saying, “Hello, we just wanted to call to see if you were still happy with your service you had with us,” has not only helped our company prevent bad reviews online, but also helped the customers feel extra special. Our employees have been trained to call back clients for a friendly followup within 24 hours to make sure that there are no fires to put out. -Nancy T. Nguyen, Sweet T
9. Where’s the WOW Factor?
If you can make the client say “Wow” at every touch point, you’ll make that client a brand lover. Creating brand lovers is worth every penny you spend to do it. One of our “Wow factors” is a handwritten thank you card that we mail to each client after providing a service. Think outside the box and give the clients what they want but don’t expect. -Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk
10. Give the Gift
Send your customers gifts that show them that you know them and appreciate them. The gifts don’t have to be expensive, but will still make a lasting impression in your customers’ minds. -Brent Beshore, AdVentures
11. Make It Your DNA
Make great customer service a part of your company DNA and culture. Let every employee at every level feel like they are contributing to making customers feeling great. If every employee is working towards great customer service, it will show. -Tim Jahn, Entrepreneurs Unpluggd
12. Become a Customer!
Try your service but with an outsider’s perspective. Once you are on your website, ask yourself: Is ordering simple? Is finding customer support easy? Emulate the problems your customers will likely come across and observe every step of the process. Doing this objectively will give you a good idea of what your customer’s experience is like and what needs to be improved. -Christian Springub, Jimdo
13. Align Customer Experience With Positioning Strategy
Customer service is the first line of marketing; they have the most contact with customers. A company must have a defined positioning strategy that customer service not only understands but also lives and breathes. Customers will be treated your way and will also spread your message. -David Gardner, ColorJar
14. Where Can I Reach You?
As a consumer, I dislike not knowing with whom I’m speaking at customer service. We give all customers our personal email and cell phone addresses. They know that we are there to help and will actively service their issues. -Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches