These Customer Service Best Practices are the Key to Growing Sales & Retaining Revenue
Ensuring that your customers feel heard, supported, and valued is perhaps the most essential task you face as a merchant. But, if that’s the case, then how do so many merchants get it wrong? The way in which you approach customer service could hold the answer.
The solution is to leverage better management tools, adopt customer-focused principles, and implement customer service best practices. Doing this can help you avoid pitfalls, develop better relationships with customers, and see substantial, long-term revenue gains.
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What is Customer Service?
Okay sure, that’s kind of a silly question at first glance. Obviously, everyone knows what “customer service” is in concept. Still, we wanted to dig a little deeper and give a somewhat novel take on the idea.
Customer service is the practice of assistance and care provided to customers. Every business offers different levels of customer care. This care may also be offered before, during, or after a sale. The purpose here is to provide support and ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty, and protect the brand’s reputation.
Customer service is a critical component of the customer experience. One could even argue that it is the most important facet of that experience, considering that 80% of customers expect quick responses from companies. 52% expect the rapid resolution of any problems they might encounter.
The core of customer service is a set of ethics that customers expect you to adhere to in order to earn and maintain their business. Therefore, “good” customer service should combine human cognition and empathy to create and maintain positive connections with customers and patrons. These ethics should be perceptible in every channel — via social media, your website, and in-person (where applicable).
The Value of Good Customer Service
Brands pay big money to study the correlation between human behaviors and their shopping habits. They want to know what (if anything) definitively causes humans to lose patience and become frustrated with a product or service, and what companies can do to make them happy. Crucially, they also want to know how to link customer service best practices directly to their revenue.
It’s pretty simple, to be honest. Word about consistent, excellent customer service gets around. If a customer trusts your brand, they are far more likely to recommend it to others. Potential leads like this can translate to new sales, and will also help you spread brand awareness into previously untapped markets, facilitating exponential growth.
Great customer service touches several areas of your business, including:
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Good customer service plays a central role in each of the above. You can swiftly identify issues affecting your customers, problems they may be experiencing on your platform and even determine which of your products and services speak most to them. Additionally, customers that feel their concerns will be prioritized and that they’ll be able to return items without a fuss will likely return to your brand again.
Essential Principles of Customer Service
Remember: good customer service is about building and maintaining relationships with your customers.
To encourage and foster great relationships, you will need to ensure that your customer service response is optimized. This means acting quickly, maintaining easy access to documentation, and investing in 24/7 support.
Adopting individual customer service best practices will be fundamental for success. Let’s look a bit deeper for a moment, though, and examine the core principles that should guide your customer service approach:
The Top 12 Customer Service Best Practices
Now that we have a better understanding of the basic principles of customer service, let’s discuss how those principles can be deployed in practice.
Improving customer service procedures will increase loyalty, build relationships, and prevent loss. There are dozens of ways to do this. Some customer service best practices are obvious, but many represent more subtle standards.
We ran through some tips to help improve customer service in another recent article. Here, though, we'll offer twelve customer service best practices to help you elevate your customer experience above and beyond your shoppers’ expectations:
#1 | Show Appreciation to Your Current Customers
Discounts and other incentives are a great way to entice new shoppers. What about your existing customers, though? Shouldn’t you reward their loyalty in the same way? A bonus for return buyers such as a discount code, or even free shipping, is a great way to say “thank you” to customers for their support.
#2 | Personalize the Experience
Shoppers want good customer service, and they want it tailored to their specific needs. Encourage your service representatives to leverage customers’ names and their history with the business. You can use customer relationship management (CRM) software to accomplish this. If a customer contacts you, encourage representatives to call the customer by name throughout the conversation and be proactive in appealing to that customer’s preferences.
#3 | Provide Omnichannel Support
With the rise of eCommerce, customers have become accustomed to omnichannel, round-the-clock shopping. Shouldn’t they have the same access to customer service? Find a way to be available 24/7 across multiple contact channels (phone, email, and social media). Connect with customers on social platforms. Finally, replace your automated phone directory with real people for customers to interact with, and try to answer all calls within three rings.
#4 | Simplify Customer Processes
You can simplify the customer experience by reducing the number of steps in your checkout process. For instance, you can auto-populate fields during checkout, which will discourage card abandonment. Look for unique ways to streamline your operating procedures and encourage order completion. For instance, consider providing quick and easy reordering, offering “no-questions-asked” returns, and providing free return shipping.
#5 | Hire the Best People
Make sure your customer service staff are as courteous, patient, and professional as possible. They should have inside-and-out knowledge of your company, your products, and your services. Some customers will be angry when they call, while others may just want to voice their concerns. Representatives must be able to adapt to the customer’s needs and respond appropriately.
#6 | Respect Your Customer Service Reps
Some customers may call your customer service department with praise. It can happen. However, the vast majority of people who contact customer service will do so with a complaint. That means your reps often have the thankless job of getting yelled at by disgruntled and unsatisfied customers. Make sure you compensate your agents competitively, let them know they are appreciated, and reward them for exemplary service.
#7 | Be Transparent
Your customer service reps should strive for honesty and transparency on every call. If they can’t answer a query, they should say so, then promise to find an answer as quickly as possible. If an error was made on your end, own up to it, then find a way to remedy the issue. Encourage your people to put themselves in the customer’s position. How would they feel in the given situation?
#8 | Take the Customer’s Side
Always start with the assumption that the customer has a legitimate concern. That won’t always be the case, of course. However, your service representatives should side with the customer until all the evidence is in. Even if the customer is in error, they should be treated respectfully.
#9 | Improve Constantly
Look for opportunities to improve your customer service even more. Regularly review your business’s policies and practices. Take customer suggestions seriously. Keep an ongoing list of processes that you feel could be improved, then ask employees for input on how it could be done. This will give your team members a sense of ownership and investment. It can also give you insight into issues that may not be immediately visible.
#10 | Make Self-Service an Option
In line with the 24/7 support mentioned above, it is always a good idea to provide customers with the tools they need to resolve problems on their own when possible. Investing in a knowledge base (a categorized list of support articles and FAQs for common issues) can help customers address common problems before a support ticket is ever processed.
#11 | Remember the “Human Element”
All this new technology can help you remain available to your customers at all hours. However, you still need to make sure a human being is easily accessible to ensure the customer has everything they need. At the end of the day, your customers and employees should be connecting with one another to ensure a positive, mutually beneficial customer experience is possible.
#12 | Always Follow Up
As far as possible, every contact with a customer (sales, shipping, returns, complaints, etc.) should be followed by a call or email to ensure the shopper is happy. This kind of follow-up is the only way to be certain that expectations were met to the customer’s satisfaction.
Avoiding Potential Pitfalls by Adopting Customer Service Best Practices
Adhering to these customer service best practices and principles will save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Happy customers will return to do business with you again and again. Displeased customers, however, will leave negative reviews, and share their complaints publicly on social media. Not only that, but as we mentioned above, dissatisfied customers are likely to file disputes and chargebacks.
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It’s hard to place a dollar value on great customer service, but showing the impact of chargebacks is easy. According to the 2021 LexisNexis True Cost of Fraud™ study, retail and eCommerce merchants ultimately pay $3.60 for every dollar lost in a fraud attack. This includes friendly fraud, which is directly impacted by your adoption of customer service best practices.
That’s an intimidating statistic. The more you work to enhance the customer experience, though, the more comfortable shoppers will feel when dealing with you.
Consumers need to know that they will talk to a courteous, professional, and knowledgeable agent if they call you. They should be confident that the person on the line will work to resolve their issue as painlessly as possible. That keeps the customer happy — and more willing to shop with you again.
Of course, providing a better customer experience is not, on its own, a complete chargeback prevention strategy. Multiple other factors can trigger customer disputes, from merchant errors to friendly fraud. Fortunately, we can help.Chargebacks911® offers a true end-to-end technology platform that prevents more disputes, wins more reversals, and maximizes your ROI. For more information on how to improve customer service to prevent chargebacks, contact us today.
What are customer service best practices?
Customer service best practices cover a wide range of rules and procedures you can adopt to improve customer service. These include personalizing experiences, being transparent, respecting your customer service team, and rapid response, just to name a few.
My customer service is already good. Why do I need to improve it?
Today’s shoppers expect more. They demand quick responses, easy contact, and personalized service. Remember: if you’re not offering the highest levels of customer care, customers will be quick to switch to a competitor who does.
Is there a simple way to improve customer service?
Anything that streamlines the customer experience is good. Go over your policies and procedures from the shopper’s viewpoint: are there trouble spots that you could remedy? Are there more options you can offer? Look for things you can do to make the customer experience easier, faster, and more enjoyable.
How can mediocre customer service lead to chargebacks?
Consumers have discovered that filing a dispute with the bank is often a pain-free way of obtaining a refund. If your customer service department is hard to work with, or your return policies are a hassle, customers are that much more likely to turn to the bank at the first sign of a problem.