Good customer service is an elusive concept to many. For most, the fundamental concepts of excellent customer service are empathy, appreciation and helpfulness. However, just developing these three skills may not be enough to win the customer service battle. What truly works to impress and keep customers may not always be the most obvious thing. There are five surprising studies that provide insight into customer behaviors and values.
In customer service, sometimes you must deliver bad news to the customer. A study at UC-Riverside tested the effectiveness of changing the order in the delivery of both good and bad news, which led to interesting results. People who were given bad news first felt better about the news, and those who were told the bad news last were more likely to act on the news. Customer service is all about making customers feel good, so it is advisable to lead with the bad news, unless the customer needs to act on the news.
Conventional customer service wisdom dictates that the faster you help a customer, the better your results, but a Gallup survey suggests that customers place less emphasis on speed in situations where they feel more highly engaged. At a bank, customers who received quick service were six times more likely to be highly engaged, while customers who gave high ratings on people skills were nine times more likely to be fully engaged. Instead of focusing just on speed, keep a balanced approach that includes attentiveness, helpfulness and friendliness.
One place where speed does matter most is on social media, one study finds. Social Habitat surveyed social media users, and found that 32 percent of users who contact a company expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42 percent expect response within an hour. For most users, the day or time matters very little; 57 percent of users expect the same speed of response at night and on weekends.
A popular customer service concept is creating delight for your customers. Beyond just being extra sweet to them, one study finds that the most effective way to delight customers is to reduce their workload. Customer Contact Council surveyed 75,000 customers in 2007 and found that customers care greatly about the amount of work involved to reach a customer service person or get their problem solved. In order to solve an issue, customers are often told they need to send a letter, fill in a form, send an email or call an 800 number. By being proactive and doing a lot of the leg work for them, customers will appreciate the convenience your company provides.
The fifth surprising study analyzed the most common reason why customers stop dealing with a business. Common assumptions would name price, poor product quality or competitor advertising as the main culprits, but according to a 2010 Experience Report conducted by RightNow, 82 percent of people have left a company because of bad customer service. This is yet another reason why keeping your customers happy and satisfied results in a better bottom line.
Bad customer service can deal a crushing blow to your company's bottom line, while good customer service helps build customer satisfaction, increase customer loyalty and retention, and grow your business. Knowing the fundamental principles of empathy, helpfulness and appreciation is a good start.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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