It doesn’t take much for customers to bolt. All it takes is one bad customer experience…and the customer is gone. But good customer experiences breed loyalty. And when you deal constantly with customers, like many retailers, you can’t afford to have bad customer experiences. That’s why many retailers excel at providing good customer experiences. SMBs can learn lot about customer experiences from their retail brethren. Many best practices that help retailers win customer ratings awards work well for everyone—no matter what type of business you have.
Below we detail five top customer service best practices from retailing which we follow at 31West. Adopting them can help you improve customer loyalty and boost customer satisfaction.
Keep Things Simple
Keeping things simple means sticking to the basics and not deviating. It also means making sure the basic forms of communication—phone support, e-mail, IM—are always available for customers.
Good phone support is especially critical. Having a customer service phone number staffed with real people ready to assist customers is paramount these days.
Build Trust And Confidence
One key to building trust and confidence is transparency. Having complete transparency with customers on issues like additional costs, taxes, and shipping is critical. Customers hate being blind-sided by these things.
Also, be aware of timing issues. The more transparent you are on things like delivery times, the happier your customers will be—and the more they’ll stick around.
Contact Customers Using Their Channel Of Choice
Brick-and-mortar retailers know the importance of being where their customers are. To do it in a non-retail setting, you must be agile and innovative in how you engage customers. You also have to adapt to your customers’ favorite ways of contacting you, including using social media.
Social media is rapidly becoming the most popular channel for communicating with consumers. Support and engagement through these channels are critical to boosting customer satisfaction. In other words, you must go beyond e-mail and online forums to keep today’s customers engaged.
In fact, many SMBs report overwhelmingly positive responses from customers when they started engaging them through social media. Responding quickly to customers in their channel of choice is often the difference between keeping and losing customers.
Make Every Customer Experience Count
Customers have a world of options in today’s highly competitive marketplaces. To survive, you need to make every customer experience count—regardless of what’s involved—from pricing to returns.
Keep in mind, though, that there is no single formula for success when it comes to keeping customers engaged. Take Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. They found different ways of meeting—and exceeding customer expectations. Yet both companies survive today.
Maximize Your Use Of Social Media
We already discussed the value of social media. Its importance to customer engagement can’t be underestimated. Over the last few years, social media has quickly become a part of nearly every successful SMB’s sales and marketing strategy. Make sure it’s part of yours.
Social media is especially critical during crises. Having an agile social media strategy when things blow up let’s customers vent their frustrations.
How you respond to these comments during a crisis—and how quickly—is critical. It can make or break your brand. Social media let’s you instantly address problems when they hit the airwaves, appear on Twitter, or are carried by other communications media.
Customer service isn’t rocket science.
In fact, it’s often just using common sense. Speed and quality keeps customers happy. So does keeping things simple.
Best practices like those described above work no matter what type of business you are in—retail or non-retail.
They’ll drive brand adoption and enhance customer connection and engagement.
They’ll also keep customers from bolting.
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