If your company has experienced a drop in sales, it could be due – in part – to substandard customer service.
More than ever, customer service is critical. Back when people could only write letters or make phone calls, it was fairly easy to track complaints. Positive or negative word-of-mouth was pretty much limited to family and friends.
Thanks to the internet, the purchasers of your company’s goods or services have countless outlets for praise or criticism. They tweet. They write reviews and respond to blog posts. They report to their Facebook crowd.
If your company has a thriving online presence with lots of avenues for communicating directly with you, your customer service individual or staff has a golden opportunity to handle complaints in a way that won’t further damage you. Is this happening in your company? Your answers to these questions will give you an idea.
Are you tracking all customer communications carefully?
Everyone in your company who has any contact with the public participates in the customer service function. So information about interaction with customers is something that should be available to other staff, within reason. You know who should see what information.
A state-of-the-art Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application can help with that. These web-based solutions are often seen as tools for the sales department, but they can be set up to be accessed by more employees than that. At the heart of these applications is a comprehensive profile of each customer; they also have links and screens dedicated to logging and viewing every “touch.” Customers like to feel like they’re a known quantity when they contact you, not just a name on a list.
What do you know about how your customer service staff is interacting with customers?
Anyone can come off as being capable of helpful, friendly communications in a job interview. But you need to develop ways to monitor the conversations that these critical staff members are having with customers. At the very least, follow up on any complaint that a customer makes about a representative.
Is your website welcoming and helpful, and does it give customers easy access to ordering options?
Your website is the crown jewel of your online presence. Is it easy to navigate? Visually appealing? Does it anticipate questions or problems that customers might have and provide FAQs, how-to videos, troubleshooting pages, etc.? Your ordering pages should be easy to find and bulletproof. Customers who get error messages after they’ve entered their credit card numbers will not be completing the order – or returning.
Have you assigned staff to monitor your web-based real estate?
This means more than simply making sure tweets and comments and questions are responded to and handled quickly. Someone should be casting a wide net around the web frequently. Where might negative content about your company appear besides your own sites? This can be a challenge, but you might ward off some unexpected trouble by following through.
The combination of the internet and customer service is a double-edged sword. Your customers can bring you new prospects via their online communication. Or they can do harm by spreading negative comments far and wide. Good customer service is an important part of your overall public image.