Ten Top Tips: Keep your customer service fresh

Customer service is a tricky business at the best of times, but as expectations change, it's important to keep up, says Mike Nigro.

by MT Staff
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
Customer service: it can make or break your business. And as technology changes, so too do the expectations of customers. Enterprise Rent-A-Car has surveyed UK consumers to try to understand how attitudes to customer service are changing. We asked UK managing director Mike Nigro to explain the findings – and how businesses should react.

1. Don’t expect second chances
Customers have more choice than ever before - they can buy almost anything anywhere and they will if they don’t get the right service. Two-thirds of those we surveyed, for example, said they’d never buy from a company again if they got bad service, so make it your mission to deliver a great customer experience every time.

2. Unhappy customers are often invisible
Only about one in three customers complain immediately if they have a problem. One in 12 won’t even bother to complain because they’ve come to expect bad service. Is there a way that you can establish your customers are completely satisfied before they leave - and what you could have done better if they’re not?

3. Pay attention to what’s being said about you online
One person in seven - and almost one in five in the money-spinning age-group between 25 and 44 - said they’d use sites like Facebook or Twitter to complain if they got bad service. Keeping a close eye on what’s being said online, then picking up and handling any complaints immediately, can turn unhappy customers into advocates for your business.

4. Your people are your most important asset
Almost 84% of consumers told us that good customer service means staff who are responsive and helpful when asked, and over 65% think service means employees who know the product and can advise you. Think about how you can drill customer service values into your people so they understand the importance of this.

5. Give staff autonomy
By being responsive you can still be seen as providing good service even when things aren’t quite right. 75% of those we surveyed said good customer service is a company that sorts out problems fast. A problem doesn’t have to be a problem if it’s resolved quickly.

6. Customer service is more important than a strong brand
Two thirds of consumers choose where they shop based on personal experience of customer service. Brand name and reputation do matter - but service comes first.  Consider how powerful both brand and service could be.

7. Efficiency counts
People talk a lot about friendly, old-fashioned customer service, where people go the extra mile. But our survey shows people value a fast and efficient transaction and a business that’s easy to access and quick to respond far more than ‘chatty, friendly’ staff. Ultimately, though, it depends on the individual.  Think about your customer and determine their needs through the transaction.

8. Service is also convenience
Almost 45% said that they chose to shop where they did based on proximity. Even in these days of internet shopping, having ‘bricks and mortar’ suppliers close by can be an important factor in the purchase decision.

9. Recognise your ‘service champions’
Some people’s skills are a more natural fit with good service and everyone can learn from them. Think about how you can use your ‘service champions’ as advocates through the business.

10. Be positive
A significant number of people told us that overall, service in UK shops has improved over the past 10 years. If businesses keep service at the top of their list of priorities, customers will see it and respond.

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