How to take your customer service to the next level
Customer service is one of the most important parts of running any business; good service will keep your customers coming back for more, as well as sharing their experience with other potential customers. There are always ways to up your customer service game: remember, once a sale has been made the customer experience is still not over and there is so much more you can do to nurture that customer relationship.
Things have changed since COVID restrictions were imposed; you may feel distant from your customers because of having to wear masks, being behind screens and needing to keep your distance. In some businesses, it has not always been possible to have in-person interactions, but customers still expect a high level of customer service, so you need to do everything possible to make their experience the best it can be (albeit virtually) so that they feel valued and, indeed, loved.
So how do you show your customers that you love them and take their experience to the next level?
- Set up loyalty programmes and schemes
- Provide excellent customer service and support
- Create an exceptional customer experience
- Listen to your customers and act accordingly
- Engage on social media
- Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’
- Ensure your customers are safe and protected by Public Liability cover
Loyalty schemes and programmes
This might not work for all retail businesses, but if it suits yours, why not set up a customer loyalty scheme? Your patrons can be rewarded or receive exclusive incentives and benefits for showing loyal buying behaviour. There are many ways to do this, but whatever loyalty programme you choose, ensure customers are rewarded relatively quickly. This should lead to you achieving better customer retention, more referrals and good online reviews – and don’t forget it is a lot more cost-effective to retain an existing customer than to win a new one. Statistics support this, with a survey in the Harvard Business Review stating that to acquire a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing purchaser. Using a loyalty card or a stamp card can be very effective for increasing customer retention and enhancing the buying experience.
Going above and beyond with customer experience
This is all about exceeding expectations. All customers expect a basic level of customer service but when you go above and beyond, it will really make you stand out from your competition.
In the current climate, this can create a unique opportunity. If you think about the wedding industry, there are brides who should be trying on their wedding dresses and getting excited about their special day. Offering a virtual appointment with as many of the details you would offer in-store as possible can give the bride-to-be that special feeling they are looking for.
If you are an essential business and remain open, something as simple as being friendly and engaging or making the extra effect to make your customers feel safe and special can make a big difference. A happy customer is more likely to return and could possibly leave you a good review.
Prioritise customer service
Although customer service is only one aspect of the customer journey, it’s a crucial part and every one of your employees needs to be service orientated. This involves a thorough knowledge of the products and services that you are offering and being courteous to customers at all times. Although it is an old cliché, ‘the customer is always right’ rings as true today as when Harry Gordon Selfridge coined the phrase in 1909. Of course, it can be tough sometimes and dealing with someone who is rude in a calm and tactful way is not human nature, however, your team should be trained to handle difficult customers.
Listen to your customers and implement change
Only by listening can you learn and understand what your customers like and don’t like, the good and the bad, which in turn can help you to implement changes so that your retail business becomes even more successful. The key here is actually listening, and if a customer does have a complaint, address it, thank them for making you aware and reassure them that their experience will be better in the future. Don’t be afraid of reviews; it’s so important to receive customer feedback and then to analyse it, learn from it and act on it. A good way to gather this information could be:
- Carrying out customer satisfaction surveys
- Asking for customer reviews for feedback
- Conducting market research
- Offering continual customer support
Engage with your customers on social media
Social media now plays a bigger role for businesses than ever, and when face-to-face interaction is limited, it is a great way for your customers to engage not just with you but with each other, generating even more recommendations for your business.
People love to share their experiences on social media, and it’s a great platform to share helpful and interesting information, such as current opening times, stock releases and your response to national lockdowns and local tier restrictions. Engaging productively and effectively with your customers is all about knowing who your target customers are. Experiment with the various media and use the ones you enjoy and which bring the most productive results.
You don’t have to juggle all the social media plates, as concentrating on just one could bring the results you are looking for. But whichever channel or channels you use, make sure you post regularly and always respond quickly to any comments.
Say thank you to your customers
Thanking your customers will build relationships and really demonstrate that you value them. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just enough to show your human side. They are giving a lot to you and a thank you could just make their day! You could try:
- Sending a thank you letter or email
- Calling personally by phone
- Sending thank you cards at specific times of the year such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day
- Offer post-purchase discounts
- Provide free gifts or samples
Making sure they are safe
As a retailer, you need to ensure your customers are safe. Social distancing measures should be in place and your store should follow the latest Government guidance.
If a customer were to injure themselves or their property be damaged as a consequence of your business activities, you could be held liable. Public Liability can cover compensation payments and legal costs, should this happen. You are responsible for providing a safe environment for your customers, and as a retail business owner, you have a duty of care to ensure they are as safe as possible. For example, if a customer injures themselves through a slip or a trip on a slippery floor, they may claim compensation.
Accidents do happen but identifying risks can help reduce the chances of accidents occurring and help to safeguard your business. Performing a risk assessment will identify areas for improvement and where to put preventative measures in place. As a cover provider, we see the impact of these incidents and so we have put together a free guide to help you navigate the potential risks in your business.