So, your company has a wonderful product or service. It’s novel, it’s new and it has definite demographics that it should appeal to. It has an identity, as does your company, that sets it apart from the competition, and the price point is perfect to make both your company wealthy and the customers happy. Yet, your product or service isn’t selling, you can’t keep a steady customer base and your company is failing. How can this be? Perhaps it is time to evaluate how to improve the customer experience, which is more likely where your problem lays.
Customer experience is the great, white throne judgment of a company, not the product or service, brand or marketing. These are all trappings that lead to patronage by a customer, but they are seldom the thing by which a company is judged, nor are they always what ensures reputability and steady patronage in the future. Customer experience, however, is.
While the things mentioned a moment ago do partially constitute customer experience, the crux of customer experience is CRM, and customer service, which are inevitably needed. No matter what, someone will have problems or questions, and when they do, a company needs to handle these in a very specific and positive way. So, before running for the life rafts and abandoning ship, let’s see if these three tips on how to improve customer service won’t patch the cracks in your hull and get your company sea worthy once again.
#1 – Convenience of Contact
Making it convenient for customers to contact your company is the big one, and this is actually three sub topics that need to be addressed in order. First, make contact information or links plainly visible and not remotely difficult to find. Avoid requiring a lot of navigation or research in order for customers to contact you. They may just find it to inconvenient to find your information, abandon the project, and just choose to not use your service or product again.
Second, do not utilize old, complex methods of contact, such as forums or help desks that require signing up for accounts. Customers will immediately walk away from this most of the time, and respond in a similar manner to the previous issue. It should require no red tape for the customer to access your contact page or what have you.
Third, make sure that whatever methodologies you are using are fast. It should take no more than 24 hours for a representative to email a customer back, or respond to a help desk ticket. A customer should never be on hold over the phone for more than 15 minutes. Slow responses and long wait times will make a customer just not bother, and again, they will abandon the idea altogether and write your company off in the future.
#2 – Keeping Advertising in its Place
Customer experience can go sour when advertising is overzealous. With a free service or product, it is to be expected (within limits), but companies make a colossal mistake constantly. Many paid services and products implement some form of advertisements as well, and customers will not tolerate ads on top of paid service. This is why TV stations on cable providers are going under at amazing speed.
This is especially noticeable when customer service does it, either when a customer is on hold and hears advertisement recordings, or when they receive a chunk of advertising in a response email etc. Including advertising inside packaging is harmless enough, but beyond this, if the service is paid, advertisement belongs far away from it. This and the first issue mentioned are probably the culprits that are sinking your company, if it’s a customer experience issue.
#3 – Poor Communications
This goes above and beyond customer service and encompasses the whole product/service and company. Miscommunication is a serious problem, and can plague marketing, advertising and even usability of a service or product as well. Many times, advertising can misrepresent a product, so that the customer does not receive what they expected from said first impression.
Bad communications can turn customers off of a product by misrepresentation as well, as the Axe Body Spray manufacturers will more than attest to, after their calamitous and much maligned advertising campaign a few years back. But, poor communications are especially evident in customer service, where already frustrated customers will once more abandon their attempts to resolve an issue and will refrain from using your company thence. They will also spread the word that your company’s customer service is poor and that your product is poor and point out your (wrongfully concluded) unwillingness to address it. Don’t believe anyone who says there is no bad PR, because there most definitely is.
These are three key tips on how to improve the customer experience, and while they’re not the only factors to consider, others are a bit more specific to industry and corporate culture. With all likelihood, these have pointed out where the major weak link in your chain is, and you can now begin to mend it and look for a brighter tomorrow for company.