Good customer service is the hallmark of any company that wishes to keep customers coming back again and again. Customer service skills go beyond just empathy, appreciation and helpfulness. Mindfulness of a few psychological principles may assist employees on the front lines of customer interactions.
Len Markidan, director of marketing for Groove, touts some "counterintuitive truths" examined by several studies that expound on what people consider good customer service. Happy customers are not all about speed, efficiency and getting the job done.
Researchers at the University of California-Riverside showed that presenting good news or bad news first during an interaction determines what the customer does afterwards. If bad news comes before good news, the customer is more likely to be happy by the end of the interaction. If the customer hears good news before bad news, the UC-Riverside study showed a person may be more likely to take action on the information. Vary the order of good news and bad news, depending on how you want your customer to act at the end of the interaction.
A Gallup poll determined a bank's customers were more impressed with friendly, empathetic clerks than those who got tasks done more quickly. Customers were six times more likely to be fully engaged with speedy, efficient tellers. However, the engagement factor rose nine times with friendly, personable staff. Good customer service is not all about taking care of an issue faster.
That being said, a study by Social Habit shows people feel social media interactions should be done very quickly. Nearly one-third of respondents believe good customer service on social media occurs within 30 minutes, and 42 percent want a response within 60 minutes. This makes sense since most tech-savvy consumers are used to fast Internet and fast smartphone apps that deliver information at lightning speed.
Keeping customers provides a good profit base. A 2007 survey by the Customer Service Council polled 75,000 customers who said the single-most important facet of maintaining customer loyalty lies in reducing the amount of work the customer must do to solve a problem. Automate certain customer service processes. Create videos that show how to troubleshoot various issues. Do as much work for the customer as possible without requiring them to call, email or contact you.
A 2010 study by RightNow showed the top reason why customers stop doing business with a firm is due to poor customer service experiences, to the tune of 82 percent of respondents. Employees and seasoned professionals should hone customer service skills through proper training. This can be accomplished through special classes, previous work experience or pre-employment training sessions.
The overall gist of these studies shows that customers do not just want their problems solved, they want them solved properly and with friendly attitudes. Even if a loyal customer does not get a solution right away, good customer service still occurs with a friendly attitude that makes a customer feel better. It's not all about problem solving; it's also about helping ensure someone's day is a little brighter.
Expanding on these studies is a matter of creativity and the culture set forth by company executives. Good customer service clearly dictates revenue and profit margins. How a company goes about making that happen represents a firm's overall brand to the rest of the world.
Photo courtesy of CWCS Managed Hosting at Flickr.com
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