10 Steps to Reinventing Your Customer Service Strategy for the New Year

Developing Effective Customer Service Strategy for the New Year
Developing Customer Service Strategy

In the over-saturated market of similar products and services, customer service is receiving more and more importance in the customers’ eyes.

According to a recent study, in 2013 customer service became the number one factor that made consumers choose another service provider. 60% of customers cited it as their primary reason for switching. Product price came only second.

If consumers are giving so much value to customer service, it’s time to take a look how you could do it better to earn customer loyalty.

Developing customer service strategy to bring greater results and maximum customer satisfaction

1. Write down your mistakes of this year.

See what lessons you can learn from them. Perhaps you had several cases pointing to the same issue, a gap in your policy or service terms? Now is a good time to go over and rework those.

Make sure that every member of your customer service team is familiarized with these cases so that they can learn not only from their own mistakes, but also those made by their team mates.

Keep a record of all difficult cases and include this information in the training program for new employees.

Track not only your mistakes, but also cases resolved successfully and similarly make them known to all members of the support team as a model of customer service that you strive for.

2. Create a centralized board where all employees can learn company updates as soon as they go out.

Dealing with unknowledgeable employees is one of the most common customer frustrations. It is not rare unfortunately that sometimes a customer knows more about the company or it’s recent launch/promo than does a customer service agent.

Give your best to keep your reputation clear from such shameful accusations. It’s not difficult after all. You just have to add one more must-do to your customer service routine and create a space where all updates are shared with the whole team before the news goes out to clients.

3. Set up analytics tools and invest time into actually digging into that information.

Analytics is important, but not only analytics pertaining to your customer service channels, but overall analytics for your company performance showing if there has been any progress.

Consider customer service as another sales and marketing tool and see if goals are being met and if you are moving anywhere.

Have your sales increased? Did you get more referral traffic? Did more people join your affiliate program? How many clients terminated a contract with you? The answers to these questions will help you determine how effective your customer service is.

4. Set up a feedback system.

Don’t rely on the analytics numbers alone. Listen to a live feedback from your customers and see if you are meeting their expectations. Customers will also point out to you those areas where you can improve and suggest to you how you can improve.

Monitor all your customer service channels for feedback and set up additional feedback tools, such as on-site survey, post chat survey, post-purchase survey to get more insights and create greater engagement with your clients.

5. Make consistency one of your priorities.

Recent stats show that 58% of customers complain about companies not being able to deliver what they have promised upfront.

Make sure you stay away from false marketing promises, given online as well as across your customer service channels. Let every member of the team be clear on what products and services you offer and what your company identity, culture and mission are.

Practice “underpromise and overdeliver” rather than reverse.

6. Empower your employees to see better performance from them.

Utilize the full potential of your people. Let them think for themselves, allow creative approaches to solving the customers’ issues.

Don’t force them to follow the script, but do provide guidance and help, including scripts, training material and tools until they are confident working with minimum supervision and help.

Encourage them to experiment with their line of work and find the best ways to approach customers, to handle complaints, collect feedback etc.

Listen to your employees and delegate responsibility to them so that they have a sense of belonging. Emotional attachment, freedom that comes along with responsibility will cultivate the most loyal and devoted people in your company.

7. Invest in your frontline.

Preparing, developing strategies, monitoring are all important. But what really makes a difference at the end of the day is a single interaction between the customer and the service representative, interaction happening at any single given time.

If your customer service agent does not possess the right skill, the right attitude for the service job, if they do not have the efficient tools to deliver the best service to the customer, no on-paper strategy will save them.

Pay more attention to hiring people with the right mindset and invest into modern tools to help them become more efficient.

Make sure the people understand your company’s mission, its priorities and culture. Empower them to work together and share their experience and ideas. Encourage employees to bring their personalities to work.

8. Create a customer reward program.

Offering incentives to customers who continuously do business with you is important. It is not necessarily due to the fact that people like free stuff. More than anything else people crave for attention. It is just in our psychology, we want to be recognized and appreciated.

Statistically, 55% of customers expect specialized treatment for being a good customer. It’s more than a half now, and most likely, the number will be growing in the next years.

Adding some extra service to show your appreciation of your clients’ business and maybe their personality too, is something that can help you have higher retention rates.

9. Develop a vision of your company’s mission and communicate it to clients and employees.

This step is actually very important, because a clear vision helps to put all facets of your business together. It puts customer expectations in line with your potential. It brings transparency to your business operations and customer service in particular.

It allows the service agents to steer their efforts into realizing the company vision, to make the right decisions and give promises which can be fulfilled.

10. Make customer service easy to obtain.

I suggest that we turn “Make it easy” into a customer service mantra for 2014. The top customer expectation of 2013 has been “I wish customer service and support were easier and more convenient to obtain”.

Indeed, aren’t we all tired of getting through voice machines, long holds, multiple department transfers or no response at all? Let’s make every effort to deliver a customer service that is easy, fast, effective, rewarding and memorable.

Happy New Year!

Maria Lebed

Maria Lebed

Maria is a Customer Service Advocate and Social Media Coordinator at Provide Support, LLC. She is a writer and blogger on customer experience, customer service innovation and live chat support service.
Maria Lebed

3 thoughts on “10 Steps to Reinventing Your Customer Service Strategy for the New Year

  1. All of these suggestions are excellent but investing in your frontline and hiring the people with the right mindset strikes me as the most important among many very essential elements. Some people simply aren’t at a point or may not become someone who can turn a problem into a success. Don’t underestimate how difficult an angry or upset customer can be to “manage”. After hundreds of hours of listening to employees and customer calls I am sensitive as to how much training and care must be given to get one great employee in customer service. Much can be trained but some must be part of the person from the beginning.

    1. Lisa, you are absolutely right. I can’t help but agree that finding the right people is the most important thing. And while it seems very difficult to screen and train the agents for great performance, I still believe there is a shortcut to this. People will do their best if they happy, if they are engaged and given attention to. If they feel disconnected they will produce poor results even with best training. So if you are not the person who is going to be involved with the support team directly, if you can manage finding one such person who will be managing the team, caring about the people, being really involved with them and with your business, you are done. You will not have to worry about each individual member of the team. If they are cared for, they will give their best.

  2. What is equally as important as investing in frontline is the live feedback. How will you ever know how well or how badly you are performing if you don’t ask? 50% of all disgruntled customers never say a word. And 90% will inform others if their experience. It is very important to ask our customers their opinion as soon as possible. I don’t like the canned version of getting feedback: “So, how did we do?” If I want an honest answer, I’ll ask an honest question: “Was there anything that disappointed you? “What can we do better?” “Was there any occurrences that may deter you from returning?” Pursue feedback as vigorously as you would new customers.

    Great article!

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