It's common to hear about the importance of customer experience. When your customers are happy, your business is happy.
But have you considered there's another reason why it's important to have good customer service in your business? It turns out that investing in shoring up your customer service strategy now can help improve your business prospects for the future.
To help your business make moves now to help future-proof your business in any economic climate, check out the following tips. Advice from these two leaders just might help you kick your own customer service efforts into overdrive.
The Value of Customer Service
Harry Poole is the vice president of client services at Alexandria, Virginia-based RedPeg, a brand experience marketing agency. His company invests heavily in the overall client relationship, moving technology to the back burner while other businesses might have put tech at the forefront.
"We can't become overly reliant on technology," he says, "regardless of how much easier technology has made things. We've really made it a priority to be present with our clients and develop human connections and relationships through as much face time as possible."
The real value of customer service comes from clients seeing businesses they engage with as partners, not vendors. That implies a deep relationship where companies make an effort to learn about their clients' businesses on every level.
"If we can be well-positioned with our clients before things potentially go bad, we are then seen as part of the solution to navigate the challenging times, rather than one of the things that need to be a part of cost cutting," he says.
For Matt Caywood, CEO and co-founder of TransitScreen, a Washington, D.C.-based software company known for its real-time displays of mobility options, there's an additional reason his company has invested so heavily in customer service: industry strength.
“You can have the best product, but if you don't provide the right kind of support then you're going to have a difficult time becoming a top competitor throughout an industry," he says. The client support his team at TransitScreen creates with its customers begets glowing testimonials, one of the company's most powerful sales tools.
“Satisfying one customer creates opportunities for exposure—your existing client could have contacts for another business that you can sell to and pass along a glowing review," says Caywood. “You can go on and on about how great your product is, but what people really want to see before they buy is how real users enjoy it."
The relationship-based service culture these two leaders have created in their respective businesses highlight why it's important to have good customer service. But their examples also demonstrate how shifting your customer service strategies now can help secure business in the future.
Shoring Up Your Customer Service Strategies
Poole and Caywood are ready with actionable advice to help your business make meaningful adjustments in your customer service strategies. Here are their best tips, and ones they use in their own companies, to use customer service as a future-proofing tool.
Seems intuitive, right? Yet sometimes businesses are all-too-ready with solutions without genuinely listening to hear the challenges their clients need help solving. Legendary service begins with your ears, not your PowerPoint deck.
"We need to try to get insights from [our clients] to help guide our thinking in terms of how we solve a challenge for them. We won't always have the answer or solution, but we can find it if we spend more time listening," says Poole.
2. Focus on the up-front work.
“This sounds like common sense, but oddly enough there are many companies that don't make important information easily accessible to customers," Caywood says.
You can have the best product, but if you don't provide the right kind of support then you're going to have a difficult time becoming a top competitor throughout an industry.
—Matt Caywood, CEO and co-founder, TransitScreen
Make sure your clients have what they need to succeed from day one, including simple things like access to the FAQ, customer portals and even how-to videos to get them up and running with ease.
3. Schedule a visit.
While company budget, office locations and customer locations are factors for in-person visits, taking the time to meet your customers face-to-face can reassure customers in any economy that you're committed to the relationship.
“It's easy to get lost in the confusion of emails and rescheduled phone calls, but meeting the people behind the emails will only improve your conversations moving forward," says Caywood.
Don't save your client outreach for times when problems arise.
“If there's a problem, or you sense there could be a problem on the horizon, start the communication early before it snowballs," says Poole. "If things are going well and you forecast more good results ahead, communicate that early as well."
5. Start a cadence.
Speaking of communication, Caywood doesn't think businesses should wait until customers reach out to them.
“You can't assume someone will reach out to you, and you shouldn't make the customer feel like they have to do all the work after making a purchase," he says.
Make sure your customer service team has a continued and scheduled process for staying in touch with clients. This makes continuous service a given in the relationship instead of an emergency action.
6. Act as a partner.
To shift out of the transactional mindset, Poole suggests thinking of customers as partners. "Partners" implies a relationship, not a bottom line.
"It's important that we don't treat clients like transactions, but instead like long-term partners that can grow together," he says.
Partners are in it for the long haul, which is likely the future-proofing your business craves.
From Poole and Caywood's tips, it's easy to see why good customer service is important to any business. It's perhaps the most powerful resource your business can cultivate to make you indispensable in any economy.
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