Ideas for improving your firms’ customer service to win and retain clients

customer service

In today’s cut-throat, increasingly digital marketplace, it’s becoming more important than ever for firms to offer their clients (both potential and existing) the best possible purchasing experience and ongoing customer service. With more and more companies moving to the online sales model (frequently selling the exact same goods as their rivals) very often the service we receive from a firm can be the deciding factor between committing to buying or moving on to the next website.

An increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace

Over the last decade, the e-commerce model has grown exponentially increasing from less than 5% of total global retail sales in 2010 to around 18% today. These figures are expected to grow even more in light of the lockdowns and distancing measures caused by the recent Coronavirus which forced would-be shoppers to purchase online. Indeed, it’s expected COVID has accelerated the growth and take-up of e-commerce by as much as four to six years.

As we entrust more and more of our personal and business data online and the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds continue to blur, the growth of e-commerce shows no signs of slowing – and those firms that continue to ignore its potential do so at their peril.

Your website – ground zero when it comes to modern customer care

It’s estimated that around 70% of today’s consumer journeys start with an online search – either through targeted research or just casual browsing. With so much retail now happening online, it’s essential your firm’s website projects the right image and serves to instill a sense of trust and professionalism.

For most companies these days, their website will be the first point of contact with customers so ensuring you send the right message and display your products and services as attractively as possible is key. You should also ensure there is a structured route through the site’s purchasing process, making it as easy as possible for clients to find and buy your products.

In truth, the customer care doesn’t just begin when a site visitor makes a purchase – it starts well before that in the process of converting them to a client in the first place. Consequently, you should spend some time auditing your website and studying trends (or, better yet, employing the services of a professional web design agency).

The importance of personalization and a customer-centric approach

While the e-commerce model offers undoubted opportunities and benefits to firms of all sizes, one of the biggest drawbacks of selling online as compared to in real-world brick-and-mortar stores is the lack of personal care you can offer clients. Below are some tips you could try so you provide a far better, more customer-centric approach to your online sales:

Audit your website: As noted above, your site is most probably going to be the first stage in winning clients so ensure it is as professional and easy to use as possible.

Cater for our 24-hour society: Today’s shoppers expect to be able to reach out to and connect with firms 24/7/365 – particularly when it comes to after-sales service. You should ensure your social media channels are regularly updated and that you reply to customer queries or emails as quickly as possible – plus also consider using phone answering services to field telephone inquiries or support requests.

Invest in Customer Service Relationship Management (CRM) tools: Modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can automate most of the tasks inherent in looking after clients online and can monitor every stage of their journey – from first contact through to final sales and beyond. If you aren’t already using CRM apps in your firm, you should consider investing in them. Or, you can also consider investing in customer support tools as they’ll remove most of the burden of responsibility from your team plus massively improve the levels of service you provide.

Try to think like one of your customers: Today’s most successful global firms are those that have managed to get under the skin of their clients and realize (often before their customers do) what they want and need. To take a real-world example – Apple’s famed MagSafe cable used on their MacBook models was lauded by most users as the best way to keep their device safe from accidental damage caused by tripping over the power lead. This kind of proactive thinking and taking the time to study what clients might appreciate or need is often what separates the titans of industry from the also-rans, and it’s exactly this kind of deeper thought approach that will improve your client care while also improving their overall experience.

Instill a culture of customer service in your team: Pretty much all successful company CEOs understand the value of great customer service early on when they start their firms. However, the same cannot be said of all your employees – particularly as a firm grows. If you want to ensure you maintain high levels of client care, you need to build a culture in your firm where the customer always comes first. Yes, that term might be slightly cliched but, if you take time to study how your firm operates from a grassroots level right up to the boardroom, you may well be surprised just how often the client is overlooked in favor of generating profit or, worse yet, laziness on the part of your staff. If you educate your staff on the importance of treating customers well, you’ll be much more likely to see this approach trickle down through all parts of your company.

Test this culture internally: As a benchmark for customer Service care, try getting your staff to treat each other as customers – or, in other words, get them to take the same approach with those both outside and inside your firm. If you get your team thinking more about the service they provide internally, they’ll be much more likely to project this same attention to detail and care externally. Moreover, you’ll create a happier work environment while also building a more content and valued workforce.

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