In today’s competitive market it’s hard for a rising business to stand out. Only a handful of startups blow up and get a piece of the cake controlled by large corporations. Many factors are involved when it comes to the success of a business, all of which amount to customer satisfaction. Quality, utility, price, and more, all play a role in the success of the business. However, not all the factors are related to the product, there is also the experience involved with the brand. One of the most important aspects that determine a brand’s success is customer care. In the end, every customer invests money in return for not only a product, but the service as well. This is why customer satisfaction is considered by many the ultimate metric for evaluating the success of a business and its potential. And customer care is where it all starts.
What Is Customer Care?
Customer care or customer service is an integral part of any business. It is concerned with supporting the clients before, during, and after the purchase. Customer service isn’t a perk offered to customers after they purchase your product or service. In fact, it’s a powerful tool that can help drive and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. Most of us associate customer service with answering questions, and usually they are from confused or angry customers. However, that is an example of bad customer care. In reality a company should provide customer support throughout the user’s experience with the brand in general.
When we are experiencing a problem with a product, most of us usually try everything from the internet to trial and error to solve the problem before contacting customer support. Why? Because honestly, we all dread that long hold on the phone, or the difficulty of email customer care.
This doesn’t have to be the case. The goal is for your customer care team to be the number one source of information on your product. It should be the easy way to solve a problem or inquire on something regarding your products.
Why Is Customer Care So Important?
Before learning how to improve your customer experience through customer care, it’s important to know why.
1. Keeping Customers is Cheaper Than Making New Ones
If you’re in the business word you probably heard this phrase a lot. This is because it is simply true. Maintaining a relationship with existing clients is not only easier but also much cheaper. Studies show that it can be cheaper by up to 6 times than acquiring new customers. Why is that?
Because most of a product’s sales expenses are concerned with introducing a customer to your product. Your existing customers already know about your product, they just need a reason to keep coming back for it. This is done by maintaining a quality standard, but in today’s every changing market can’t be guaranteed. A more practical approach is to maintain a quality standard for your customer care.
In the catering industry, for example, a survey showed that 74% of people would rather choose where to dine based on the quality of service, rather than the quality of food itself. This has a crucial indication that customers buy a good customer service as well as the product itself, if not more so.
2. Increasing Your Brand Loyalty
There is no doubt that when we’re browsing for a new product, we start our search with the brands we already know. This happens both consciously and subconsciously, because it’s simply safer to bet on a provider we know. You can see this is in almost all markets, from clothes, to electronics, to fast food.
Providing good customer care is a major deciding factor when it comes to brand loyalty. Imagine you want to buy new shoes, you will automatically think of the shop where you had the best shopping experience, even before thinking where you last found the best shoes you got.
3. Free Advertisement
How many times have you bought a certain brand just because a friend told you about it, or saw reviews online? The internet nowadays, made a brand’s reputation hang on the thin thread. Thanks to social media websites and review blogs replacing word of mouth, the masses can now decide the fate of your brand. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the positive spreads just as much as the negative.
It all starts with the way you treat your customers. In the end, if you provide them with good customer care and an overall positive experience they will spread the word. Meaning, your clients can become free brand ambassadors if treated right.
4. Increasing Revenue
The fact is, people are willing to pay more money for a better service. If you are confident in your overall customer experience, starting with the customer care team, you may mark up your product at a higher price. Your clients, in the end, are looking for value for their money and that includes a valuable consumer/producer relationship. In fact, most of our decisions to buy consumables, especially are highly biased and personalized according to our experiences.
How to Improve Your Customer Experience with Customer Care?
Customer service isn’t just about smiling and being polite, although that’s a start. It’s a set of skills that everyone working in the customer care team needs to perfect. But before learning how to react with customers it’s important to learn how to read the customer.
Types of Customers
1. Potential Buyers
These are the people that are not your clients yet but can be, if you manage to persuade them. They are already aware of your product but need a little push to purchase your product. Customer care can be the deciding factor in gaining this client. This is done making a clear line of communication available to anyone that needs more information about the product. In short, you need to show them you’re here to answer any concerns about your product easily, and honestly.
2. Fresh Buyers
They are those who already bought something from you. New customers are where most the customer care efforts should take place. There can be no room for error, because new clients are very volatile. It comes down to the same concept as first impressions in person. In fact, a good practice is to advise your team to assume all clients are fresh buyers. This gives your team a sense of priority and delicacy when treating every customer.
3. Deal Hunters
Those are the customers that only visit you because you’re offering a discount on a certain product. This means they are the most challenging when it comes to adding value through customer care. However, this doesn’t make supporting them of lesser importance. Deal hunters are actually a great pool for new market segments. If they are treated well, they can come back even when you’re off sale, or at least next time you do have a sale.
4. Loyal Clients
It’s important to distinguish your loyal customers that frequent your brand from others. Why? For two reasons: Firstly, you have a guaranteed client and you want to keep it that way. Another reason is to attract others to the benefits of frequenting your brand. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to go to a restaurant or a shop where employees know you by name?
Skills Needed for a Better Customer Care Experience
Customer service goes beyond your day to day personality, just like any profession. In order to stand out you need a few specific skills, directly related with your line of work.
You simply need to be able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes in any and all situations. Because no matter how absurd the client’s concerns or questions may seem they probably have context from their point of view. You need to understand what the customer needs exactly, and the best way to deliver it to each one.
Needless to say it’s important for anyone dealing with a customer to have the maximum amount of patience. This means being able to take as much time to address the customer’s needs as they want. Most of the time clients – especially those contacting customer care – are frustrated and confused and need a certain degree of patience.
The ability to pay attention to customers goes a long way beyond simply listening to their questions. It’s about reading what’s between the lines and understanding what the customer really needs. The client in the end is probably not an expert and may be describing a common problem with new language to you.
Not only is attentiveness important for solving the current issues. It provides your business with insights on something that needs fixing in the product or the brand as a whole. For example, a client with problems finding a certain feature on your software or website could mean bigger problems. With feedback from enough clients your customer care team can provide recommendations to the developers. A good employee can tell what’s wrong without the customer saying it explicitly.
4. Product Awareness
Having the proper knowledge on a product promotes trust from the client, not only to the employee but to the brand as a whole. Because when the customer contacts customer service, he’s usually just calling the company, without department distinction.
Nothing aggravates with customer care more than “I don’t know, let me get back to you.” It’s important to have as much background on the products as possible, this reduces the response time and gives a good impression that you know what you’re doing.
5. Communication Skills
Having the proper knowledge on the product and the ability to listen to the customer only covers the input part of customer care. What about the output? At the end of the day, being a good listener is great and all, but without being able to respond quickly and on point you aren’t of much use to the customer.
It’s important to know how to relay your information to every individual client in simple and clear terms. A simple act of miscommunication can mean loss of that client’s trust or loss of the client altogether.
6. Positive Language
There is a huge difference in saying “Your SIM card will not work for the next 2 hours.” And saying “Your SIM card will work shortly in the next 2 hours.” Even though they both basically say the same information. However, the first uses negative language and that automatically gives the client a feeling that they will be immobilized for the next two hours. On the other hand, using positive language promotes a feeling of relief, that in the next two hours my problems will be solved.
7. Emotional Intelligence
The truth is you’re not going to be happy dealing with your customers all the time. Sometimes, the customer can be extra annoying, or you could just be having a bad day. This however cannot reflect on your ability to do your job which is solve their problem. Emotional intelligence means being in control of your emotions and knowing when to smile, even if you’re not feeling like it. This only means you’re a professional and can work under pressure.
The skills needed for good customer care are useful in all careers and life in general. However, it’s all about how you harness and condition these skills in the situation at hand, which is in this case helping a customer.
Customer Care Means Taking Care of Your Business
Open any company website and you’ll find it all seemingly customer oriented. Starting from the company’s vision, mission and values, everything says in one way or the other that it’s for the customers. These statements are not only words and empty promises. They should be the general theme of how every department operates and the standards that they’re held by. Customer care is the store front to your company values, and your business will be judged according to the care and support it has for its customers.