Top ways to create a great customer experience

Providing optimal customer service has become essential in today's business environments.  Companies that do not treat customers fairly or with higher levels of respect are likely going to find themselves easily beat out by the competition.


Consumers today have plenty of options for choosing who to do business with, and settling for substandard customer service is one avenue most won't take these days. The Internet has globalized many markets and, as a result, competition is high. Customers who are not happy with the level or quality of customer service given will quickly turn to a competitor with better service. Even if a product is superior, without good service to back it up, some customers will simply walk away (I've done it myself).

In this respect, the quality of customer service can either make or break a business. Successful businesses recognize offering quality customer service is a priority.

Image courtesy: Pixabay/Geralt  CC0 Public Domain
Top ways to create a good customer service experience:

Provide friendly service 

There is still a lot to be said for "service with a smile". When a customer enters an establishment, employees should always greet their visitors with a welcoming word. A concentrated effort to make customers feel wanted will go a long way.

Even if the rest of the day has been downright awful, it is essential for a business owner or customer service representative to put those feelings aside and put primary focus on the customer. Customer service policies which make attentive and friendly service a priority create an environment that customers will want to return to.

A friendly and pleasant experience is oft remembered and there is not only a good chance people will return, but also tell their family and friends when they encounter solid quality customer service. Not to mention the potential of putting a good word out on social media.

Offer personalization

Putting a primary focus on the individual needs of customers is crucial, and this includes either knowing their name, or creating a system where this information can be easily retrieved. It is important to be friendly, courteous, and to take the time to get to know who customers are. And wherever possible, greet them by name and set the conditions for a welcoming environment.

Customers don't like to be treated like an account number or market segment, they want to be treated as individuals. Fortunately for today's businesses, the ability to manage large groups of customers and still offer high levels of individualized attention and personalization is available through the use of technology.

Personalization also covers individual shopper desires as well, and this can be defined as customization.

Customization

Through customer relationship management technologies (CRM), businesses can keep track of customer preferences and needs; this helps the company deliver precisely what the customer wants, when they want it.

Doing market research is a vital part of providing good customer service. Without customized products and services designed to appeal to the targeted market, the business may not meet its potential and customers could be unhappy with offerings. However, by investing the time to learn about the things consumers prefer as individuals and then offering these customized preferences, customers are more likely to be inclined to buy.

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Listen to customers

Consumer sales are largely connected to a company's ability to profit. If a business can't sell, it cannot survive. In order to remain in business, a company needs to be able to not only grow and develop relationships with customers, but listen to what they have to say, even seeking out the information.

Customer complaints should never be dismissed nor should they be perceived as disgruntled shoppers. Rather than focus on the negative, good customer service philosophies view a complaint as an opportunity to improve. It is always important to carefully listen to customers and digest what they are saying.  After all, they could be right. Once this is done, all attempts should be made to create satisfaction and resolve the problem.

Businesses who tend to dismiss customer complaints, needs or desires quickly learn they'll not gain any customer loyalty.  Companies who want customers to be loyal and return need to understand this is a two-way street. Chances are another competitor will be very happy to listen to their gripes or needs.

Try to provide solutions and accommodation

In optimal customer service environments, representatives are always ready and willing to look or provide a solution for a problem. No matter what the complaint is, there should consistently be a strong effort to find a mutually workable resolution. It may not always be the easiest task to undertake, but it is an important one. Even when the customer is wrong, there may be a different solution or a compromise involved.

Even if there isn't a solution, then be accommodating. This includes prepared to refer to another business who can; even though this sale is lost, chances are the customer will remember the willingness to put their needs or wants above your own.

Everyone should get involved
Image courtesy: Pixabay/Geralt 

All employees from front line to management should always make a strong effort to be involved with customers. It is a good practice to greet them when they enter the building and also offer a good-bye when they leave, even if a purchase wasn't made.

A policy, whether formal or informal, should be developed where everyone is involved with customers, and this is especially true for managers. It goes a long way in a customer's perception when managers take the time to stop and ask how their experience is going and whether or not they can help.

Managers that remain hidden and unknown behind closed doors aren't helping their business prosper as much as they could be doing.

Follow up on sales

Smart businesses realize that a sale doesn't end with the exchange of money. One significant aspect of customer service is to follow up on the sale and check to ensure the customer's experience was satisfactory.

Customer satisfaction is one of the primary keys to business success. Even if high sales are made, if customers aren't completely satisfied, this reduces the possibility of them returning for future purchasing needs.

Not only does it increase personalization efforts, but also is a great way to get feedback on how the business is faring in terms of customer service. It is smart to follow up and ensure customers were satisfied, because if they weren't, this should be rectified.

Technology can help

As mentioned above, technology can be used to help deliver an optimum customer experience. CRM systems can help reach the goal of great customer experiences. Technology can help maintain information, but also track and mine information to help decision makers obtain a full picture of customer needs and wants. It is important to remember, technology cannot take the place of good customer service - but it can help enhance it.

Be open to criticism

Since good customer service equates to wanting to give consumers a great experience, this includes being open to accepting criticism. If a customer offers feedback, whether good or bad, but open and willing to accept and seriously consider the comments. The best way to learn how to shape and grow a business is to know the market, and what better way to do this than asking customers? Surveys and other solicited ways of asking for customer input can go a long way in learning what customers are not happy with; once a problem is identified, it can be solved.

Be open to change

If consumers are less than satisfied, a large part of good customer service is to be willing to change the problem. Times evolve, market preferences change and customer desires change too. A part of good service means to be willing to change with the times. To sustain and provide what customers want, openness to change is important.

Strong customer service lies at the center of success in business. Consistency in the level of good customer service is also essential. Companies that can actively seek and follow ways to provide the best customer service possible are the ones that are likely to maintain an active and profitable business in the long run because customers will return again and again due to getting a top experience from their visits.

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