1. Take complaints and criticism to heart
When a customer comes to you with a complaint, you have three choices.
You can choose to ignore it completely (probably not a good idea).
You can rectify the problem and hope it doesn’t happen again.
Or, you can try to learn something from it to prevent it from happening again.
It’s easy to get defensive when someone complains about your business, especially if they’re harsh about it.
However, by just changing your perspective from treating it like a personal attack to a helpful lesson, you can find that complaints and criticism are two of the best allies you have in perfecting and growing your business.
From time to time there will also be complaints that are completely unfounded, and those are obviously safe to just ignore.
Some customers are probably mostly looking to vent, and those are unlikely to be of use to you for improvement purposes.
Listen to their complaints with a smile and move on!
2. Anticipate problems and establish routines to handle them
After you’ve been in business a while, you probably have a pretty good idea what the most common issues are, and what most customers reach out to your customer service for.
To ensure your customer service is as efficient as possible, try establishing routines for all these common issues.
That way your customer service reps know exactly what to do when they encounter one of them, and they can handle it in the most efficient manner.
Of course, not all problems can be anticipated and categorized, but perhaps you can at least anticipate part of the problems.
Say you run an online store…
There are many things that can go wrong with your payment systems, so it’s impossible to establish routines for every possible scenario.
However, maybe it would be possible to categorize the issues into “credit card payments”, “Paypal payments” and so on.
Then establish routines to handle those things.
It may never be perfect, but it is a lot better than starting from complete scratch with every issue that arises.
3. Get involved personally
When building up a business it can often be tempting to take the less fun parts (like, say, customer service) and hire others to handle it for us as soon as we’re able to afford it.
However, when we do that we also lose the ability to stay directly in touch with what customers think about the business.
Sure, customer service reps could technically relay some of it to you, but it won’t be the same as talking to the customers yourself.
That’s why it can often be a good idea to set aside some time, maybe once a week, or month, where you do some customer service work personally.
That way you can get a feel for how everything is working, and you’ll get firsthand information straight from the source.
It will also allow you to better understand what your service reps are facing in their daily work…
And you may even find yourself appreciating them more when you realize what they deal with every day.
4. Learn from customer feedback
Every interaction you and your staff has with a customer is an opportunity to get genuine feedback and learn how you can improve your business.
A big mistake that lots of companies make is ignoring the feedback they’re getting from customers, either because they think they know better themselves or because they don’t have the routines in place to record and make proper use of it.
Either way, there’s no excuse not to treat customer feedback as the gold it is.
Make sure there is a simple way for your support staff to log suggestions for improvements that they receive from customers.
Even a disgruntled customer that may never buy anything from you again can potentially give you some great pointers to ensure that whatever happened in their case will not happen again with someone else.
To really get the most out of the feedback you receive you must also remember to never take any of it personally (unless it’s specifically about you, of course!).
Every business has its fair share of angry customers, and you can’t let them get to you.
Just analyze the feedback you get from them objectively and determine if there’s anything you can learn from it – if not, just let it go.
Automating your follow-up is an excellent trigger to request feedback.
In my Nurture Facet program, we cover 4 types of campaigns to engage your audience.
Using my strategies will help you get that feedback gold that we know is invaluable!
5. Never stop improving
The quest for great customer service is one that never ends.
Every business needs to stay on their toes, always looking for things they can improve if they want to stay competitive.
Becoming complacent and not caring enough will lead to customers simply taking their business elsewhere.
The easiest way to keep improving is to set a goal for each month:
One thing that could be better with your customer service.
Do everything else as usual but focus on implementing or correcting this one thing.
At the end of the month, evaluate how it went and decide whether the change was for the better or if it actually made things worse.
After a few years of doing this, your customer service will be world class, way ahead of those that stopped improving once they got their basic routines in place years ago.