13 Customer Service Ideas to Jump-Start 2013
Every year I like to create a list that includes some of my favorite ideas, strategies and tactics from my articles and blog posts over the last year. So, as a nod toward the New Year, here are 13 customer service tips to jumpstart your customer service efforts in 2013.
- Create your own customer service legend. What’s your organizations very best customer service story, and does everyone know about it? That’s the “legend” you want to create. That’s the level you want everyone to aspire to.
- Be a role model for others to admire. Leadership doesn’t need a title when it comes to customer service. Anyone can step up and be a role model for everyone to admire. Be sure to always set a good example for the people around you.
- Use social media to monitor what your customers say about you – and respond. The key is to manage all channels and to respond quickly. Take advantage of positive comments and publically acknowledge and fix complaints. Be sure to respond quickly – the faster, the better.
- Use YouTube. This social media channel can be used to push out value added content that shows customers how to better use your products – or answers your customer’s most common customer service questions. I make a practice of putting a customer service video (based on articles just like this one) on YouTube almost every week. Why shouldn’t you or your company do the same?
- Define the one word or one sentence that describes what you want to be known for. What’s your word? Our one word is Amazing. Ace Hardware is Helpful. What word would you like your customers to use to describe you?
- Allow people to experiment. This is another way of saying give employees the power to try and do new things, and that is especially true in the world of customer service. The outcome should be favorable for the customer, not hurt the company (financially, legally, etc.) and enhance the relationship with the customer. Be sure there is a record of what “experiments” work best. It’s a great opportunity to share best practices with others in the company.
- Create a learning environment. Following up on number six, if you really let people experiment, and they are truly empowered, there will be much to learn from the successes and failures of your employees. Celebrate it all. Encourage people to learn from their successes and their failures. Share these lessons with everyone.
- Be active in your community. Be visible. Contribute to your community. For example, one of my Ace Hardware clients allows kids raising money for charity or their sports teams to sell their candy bars, cookies, etc. outside of their store on Saturdays, endearing themselves to their community. By the way, this doesn’t have to be a local community. The company’s market defines the scope of the community, which can be local, national – even international.
- De-commoditize your business. A business gets caught in the commodity trap when they sell the same goods and services as their competitor, and other than price, the customer doesn’t see a compelling reason to do business with one company over the other. This is where customer service becomes the strategy of choice. A company can distance themselves from the competition with customer service that provides an obviously better overall customer experience. Ask yourself this question: Why should someone do business with me (instead of my competition)?
- Customer experience is more than customer service. It used to be that customer service was the entire experience. That’s changed, and it has created a great opportunity. Beyond the actual interaction you have with the customer while you are doing business with them, how do you engage with your customer. Gamification is a new concept where customers play games with the company. My favorite example comes from Home Shopping Network and their arcade. Check it out a www.HSN.com
- Pay attention to what your customers are saying, even when they aren’t talking directly to you. For example, I was at a hotel that gave away cookies. I mentioned to the person I was with how great they would taste if they were warmed. A hotel staff person overheard this and within minutes had warm cookies brought to where we were sitting. Look for opportunities to surprise your customers.
- Create a customer service board of directors made up of your customers. This is more than a focus group. Bring a few customers together on a regular basis to get feedback and brainstorm ideas. Be sure to compensate them properly. If they give you their time and their honest opinions, they should be appropriately compensated.
- Stick with the customer service basics. With all of the cool technology and social media trends, don’t forget the basics of great customer service. You still have to hire right, train right, manage right and always work at creating a customer focused culture.
My suggestion is to take one of these 13 concepts and tactics, and make it your 2013 resolution to implement and deliver. Happy New Year!
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)