Customer service is one of those things that you just can’t ignore if you’re aiming for success and longevity for your startup. Customer service in general is important to your company, because it is often the only contact a customer has with your business. Since that first contact is so critical, you want to make the experience a good one for your customers.
Let’s look at some of the effects of bad customer service. Research on the subject shows you will only hear from about 4 percent of unsatisfied customers, but 90 percent of people who’ve had a bad customer service experience will take their business elsewhere. Customers are also four times as likely to choose a competitor if your customer service experience is bad, compared to if the product is bad or the price is too high.
Customer service clearly has a giant impact on your company’s bottom line, so here are seven ways to do it right.
1. Set clear goals and expectations.
Starting with the first call, you need to give the customer clear expectations for what you will do, what you won’t do, and how you are going to do those things. People in customer service positions should be excellent communicators. Customer service reps should be able to verbally articulate what the expectations are and understand why the expectations are there. Once the expectations are laid down, both parties should agree to them.
2. Be as proactive as possible.
If you’re waiting for a problem to come up before talking to your customers, you’re doing it wrong. In order to establish a relationship of trust and respect with your customers, you should be regularly in touch with them when things are good. Keep in contact via emails, calls or through social media. That way, when a problem does come up, you can be proactive in solving it — and you can have greater assurance that your customer is going to stick with you while figuring it out.
3. Communicate regularly.
Companies of all kinds will often have meetings with their clients, and the successful ones make this a regular thing. They schedule meetings any number of ways, from quarterly, monthly to weekly. Some may even do it daily. However often you choose to have a meeting, make sure that it is always scheduled and that there is an agenda. Before the meeting starts, go over the agenda with those involved on your side. During the meeting, make sure you get through all of your agenda items while still accepting input from your client.
4. Use effective, reliable customer service tracking tools.
As a business owner, you’ll have a million small tasks that you need to organize and keep track of. You can’t let anything slip, so make sure that you’re using tools to keep you on task and also document steps taken. There are plenty of customer service tools for startups out there that can help. When things get overwhelming, a good customer service tracking system will help you follow up and stay on point.
5. Document everything.
Good customer service includes keeping a record of every interaction you have with a client or customer. You can write down the events that happen during each interaction and then send your notes to your clients. This is an effective way to have reliable references later when you need them. In addition to that, when something goes wrong you’ve got that documentation to review and see where things went south.
6. Use social media wisely.
Most people nowadays already have social media accounts. Because of this, you should try to use social media as an extension of your own customer service. You can do this because you know consumers aren’t just using social media to interact with friends, but doing other things like finding new products as well. Social media is a great way to deal with clients effectively, as it facilitates a stronger customer relationship. It also lets you quickly answer questions or complaints.
7. Have proper ways for customers to reach you.
It is necessary to ensure that all your customers can reach you. You can do this by giving your email or phone number to them, so that they can communicate with you about their transaction. The availability of both a task management system and ticketing system is a great help to service reps when they are contacted by a customer.
Moreover, you need to make sure you always provide customers clear explanations about your response time, including specific hours of availability and how long you may take to get back with a customer if they contact you outside of regular business hours.
When it comes down to it, customers really only want a few things if there’s a problem with your service or product. They want to interact with friendly company representatives and they want a personalized experience. They also want to get information on their problem easily. Finally, they want to do business with a company that has a good reputation. If you cover the bases above, you’ll be well on your way towards earning that.
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.com.