The main aspect of business success is the customer care. Every time your business contact with your clients it has a chance to improve consumers loyalty, your reputation and increase the possibility of future sales.
Each element of your business, from the way you interact on the telephone to the organization of your systems of orders execution, has an effect the customers’ attitude and loyalty toward your business. But then your company also can use a variety of special programs to raise your customer care levels.
In this guide, you will find everything that involves customer service. It gives an explanation of how to use the feedback from the client, his contacts and loyalty schemes to keep existing customers, increase sales and acquire new customers. The guide also explains how to get ready for complaints and objections of customers.
What is customer care?
The customer care includes the introduction of systems to increase customer satisfaction to your business. The main factor of any business is that profitability and sales depend on the level of happiness of your customers.
We can say that taking care of customers plays the most important role for the business. Undoubtedly the most significant feature in the job descriptions, recruiting and training of personnel which contacts with customers, employees and sales consultants should be the customer care.
But just do not forget that customer care is also important in other elements of the business. For example, transportation and storage departments of your business who contact with customers particularly occasional, but their effectiveness when fulfilling orders significantly affects the degree of satisfaction of customers to your business.
To satisfy customers’ requirements, a large number of factors must be considered. Your customers, as well as representatives of other companies, always pay attention to the following aspects:
- Professionalism, expertise and friendliness of your employees;
- How well your product or service fulfills to the customer's expectations;
- The quality of awareness of your customers;
- The value for money you offer;
- Provided after-sales service;
- Your credibility and effectiveness in the execution of orders.
To provide the highest standard of customer care, you can use training courses that will be very helpful for your company.
Understanding your customers
In business-to-business, to ensure the highest standard of customer service, you often have to know wants and need of your customers. As soon as you have identified customers that are most important and potential for your company, you can concentrate on providing the highest standard of customer care in relation to them. One more approach, especially in the consumer market is the obligation to treat all clients at a high standard.
Collect information about your customers
You can find Information about your customers and what they need over many sources, such as:
- the history of customers’ orders
- information that you can get from your customers about products they buy from your competitors
- records of customers’ contacts with your company – meetings, phone calls and so on
- referrals and feedback from partners
- feedback from your customers - if you ask clients what they want they will usually tell
- opinion about your existing assortment- what they like or don’t like
- changes in the structure of individual customers order
- changes in the general demand for specific products or services
- changes in the services and products offered by your competitors
- enquiries about potential new services or products
Manage your customer information to improve customer care
It is very important to make a plan on how information on customers will be collected and applied in your business. Create a policy of customer care. Appoint a senior Manager as the one in charge of this policy, but make sure all your staff is involved - often personnel from subordinate positions on your company have more direct contact with customers.
Measure levels of your customer service & care
Place, where possible, systems for assessing the work in business areas that considerably influence the level of satisfaction of your company’s customers. Define key performance indicators, which reflects how well you meet expectations of your customers.
For example, you can monitor:
- average time of order-fulfillment
- rates of recurring sales
- the volume of faulty or damaged products returned
- time needed for making an order to delivery
- the volume of complaints or queries about your company’s services or products
- the volume of generated responses and marketing material sent out
- the number of times your company gets in touch with a customer each month
- the amount of complains on your employees
You can get information about key performance indicators mostly reflecting main areas of customer service in your company from your customers and employees. Make sure the elements you measure are driven not by how your business presently runs, but by how your customers would like to see it run.
Some areas of customer care are important and more complicated to measure. A lot of them are human factors, such as the receptionists by phone or sales personnel’s communication during customer visits. In these areas it is absolutely important for you to get feedback from your customers about their perception of your customer service.
Customer surveys, random phone calls to key customers and feedback programs can be a useful means of assessing the level of customer service provided in your business.
Customer feedback and contact programs
There are two ways of communication with your customers: contact programs and customer feedback, which give great potential to listen to your clients and give them more information of what you offer.
Using customer feedback you can get complete data about how your business is accepted. It is the opportunity for customers to express objections, offer changes or support your existing processes, and for you - to listen to what they say and take steps upon it.
The aim of customer contact programs is to assist you to bring tailored information to your clients. It can be an information about special offers or reminders for a customer. Contact programs are especially useful for reactivating relationships with previous customers.
Always try to make sure that your company’s customers consider an additional contact useful and relevant for them. Unwanted marketing material or calls may be counter-productive. Email bulletins and newsletters allow you to stay in touch with your customers with the help of useful information.
Customers loyalty programs
As a good overall service is the best way to generate loyalty of customer, with the help of customer loyalty programs you can strengthen new relationships or refresh old ones.
These are programs that use additional products, fixed or percentage discounts or prizes to encourage customers for behavior that makes revenue for your business. Such programs can also be used to convince customers to give you one more try if you feel that you have successfully solved previous problems with the customer service.
You may choose to offer rewards based on:
- prompt payment
- cumulative amount spent
- length of relationship
- repeated orders
- orders in large volumes or of high value
For example, a car wash company might offer free cleaning every tenth visit or a free product if the customer will take a deluxe service. Mail order, the company may attempt to revive the interest of previous customers by offering a voucher for the shop, response rates with such vouchers could be improved by setting the expiration date.
You can also give to the most important customers’ loyalty cards that enable them to a discount on all further purchases.
Employees working with customers’ orders must be well informed on actual offers and always give this information to customers. Brochures and other marketing materials can be the most efficient way of information about new discounts and promotions.
Remember that the impression of your customers from the entire service you provide will impact their loyalty much more than temporary promotions, actions and discount.
Using customer care for increase of sales
Existing customers are one of the most significant resources of your business - they selected you and not your competitors. Retaining these customers is significantly low-cost than attracting new ones. So you should do everything that they are satisfied with service provided.
There are a lot of various techniques you can use, such as:
- follow up sales with a well-mannered call
- provision of the free phone hotline for customers
- send reminders when services or check-ups are due
- provide your customers with free products for taking care of the items they purchased from you
- answers to commonly asked questions by customers on company’s website
- offer preferential discounts to regular customers on their purchases
Existing client relationships are opportunities to boost sales, as your customers already have confidence in your recommendations.
Up-sales and cross-sales are ways to increase the range or the value of what you sell, putting new buying opportunities for these clients.
Notification of customers when new, upgraded or complimentary products become available – perhaps with the help of regular newsletters or emails - is one of the ways of increasing sales.
If you don’t want to lose customers' trust, never try to sell them products that obviously does not meet their requirements. Don’t forget; it is more important to build a long-lasting relationship with your customers than to make a quick one-off sale.
Satisfied customers will be with your business for many years; they will regularly purchase and give recommendations and referrals of your company.
How to deal with complaints of your customers
Each company has situations when things in customer care go wrong from a customer's point of view.
If such a situation happens, do not treat with contempt for your customer's problem, even when you're sure it's not your fault. Although it may seem contradictory, in fact, the customer’s complaint is a real opportunity for your business.
If you solve the situation with a complaint successfully, your client is likely to be more loyal than if the problem situation has not occurred.
People do not like to complain, and possibly by complaining, your client warns you about a problem that many other customers have, but they just silently went to your competitors.
Complaints should be solved sympathetically and courteously and most importantly - fast.
Always make sure your company has the approved procedure for handling of customers claims and appeals, and the all your employees knows it. At least, the system of complaints handling should include:
- listen sensitively to find out the details of the complaint
- record the details together with the relevant data, such as a sales receipt or damaged products particulars
- offer solution - whether by replacement, refund or repair
- necessary follow-up actions, such as a phone call or a letter of apology to make sure that the problem was solved appropriately
If you are proud of how you've fixed the problems - by offering refunds, without superfluous questions, for example - make sure your customers know about it. Your method of your customer care department for solving customers’ problems is another way to stay ahead of your competitors.