What is exceptional customer service anyway?
Fundamentally speaking, the ideal customer service experience is one in which the customer reaches their ideal outcome with as little friction as possible. This is somewhat vague, but that’s by nature, as the ideal outcome can vary by industry, company, or product.
What you must consider is how you can go beyond good enough and really wow your customers.
What Does an Exceptional Customer Service Experience Look Like?
Customer experience — or CX — refers to the sum of every interaction a customer has with a business, both pre- and post-sale. An ideal customer experience can take many forms, depending on the type of interaction and the method of communication.
However, here are some aspects of an exceptional customer service experience:
It makes your customers feel special.
Every interaction needs to revolve around the concept of individual value, mutual respect, and a shared vision for your future together as their brand of choice. Consider how you can let your customers know that:
- They are more than a transaction to your organization.
- Their time and money allow you to continue to pursue your mission.
- Their journey as a person is a part of your journey as a business.
It goes beyond their expectations.
Setting expectations is an integral part of customer service. The flip side of the coin is delivering on those expectations you set.
If you fail to deliver, you create a bad experience. If you deliver, you fulfill the agreement, which is what the customer expects (no more and no less). They may be satisfied but not delighted. After all, why would your customers praise you for doing the job they paid you for?
However, if you go above and beyond what the customer expects, you pave the way for an exceptional experience from their perspective. This kind of customer delight has myriad of benefits for your business.
It goes beyond what competitors deliver.
In some cases, you may think you’re going above and beyond when you might simply be meeting the status quo set by your industry. Exceptional customer service doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If your customers know what kind of experience your competitors offer, and it’s equal or better than yours, you may not be delighting them the way you’d expect.
For example, that free 30-day guarantee may not be as big a selling point as you’d think if everyone in your industry offers one. This is doubly true if it is more difficult for the customer to actually take advantage of the guarantee than it is for them to do so with your competitors.
Always keep a pulse on how your competition is innovating their customer experience.
It does all of this without friction or inconvenience.
Your customers want the process of doing business with you to be simple and easy. When they do come up with issues, they want the process of rectifying them to be simple, timely, and on a channel that feels comfortable to them.
Communicating with your customers to understand their needs and wants is a sure-fire way to find the friction points in your customer experience and eliminate them. Solving for the customer should be an ongoing process in your organization.
Ways to Create an Exceptional Customer Service Experience
To help you establish some best practices that revolve around these basic principles, here are some helpful strategies for creating a great customer service experience.
Begin and end customer interactions with “thank you.”
The simplest solutions are often the most effective; beginning and ending every customer interaction with a thank you is one of the best ways to improve customer service experience.
Starting every interaction with a thank you shows the customer that you appreciate that, out of all the places they could have chosen, they have chosen your business first.
Saying thank you after concluding your business — even if it doesn’t result in a transaction — is simply good manners, and it leaves the potential customer with a positive view of both your people and your business. Simple courtesy goes a long way toward inspiring a follow-up visit to make a purchase in the future, too.
Use digital resources to put people first.
Thanks to the arrival of the smartphone, people are more connected digitally than at any prior period of history. This presents a unique opportunity for service providers, retailers, and restaurants to leverage this connectivity to provide superior CX via smartphones and other mobile devices.
Allowing customers to manage account services and features is also absolutely critical to creating a desirable CX, as sometimes customers have a basic question or problem, they need to resolve that can easily be handled on a mobile app or direct chat.
The ability to place orders for products or services online independently is also an absolute godsend to customers who have limited time to commit to your business. Avoid over-directing customers to your app for assistance too, as this is a surefire way to irritate and turn them off to your brand.
Employ effective social media strategies.
Social media provides more opportunities for creating personal connections than any other publicly available resource. Individuals can comment, share, and demonstrate interest in your business, brand, products, and services anywhere in the world at any time of day.
If you aren’t leveraging the personal touch social media adds to CX, you need to start right away. Using social media to make customers feel like insiders and close confidants with your brand is a high-level CX strategy.
Talk to your customers where they are.
Proactive post-transaction and post-visit follow up using customer contact information is vital to the success of your customer experience strategy. These calls and messages are opportunities to review the benefits of their potential or newly purchased product or services in case they have run into trouble or thought of new questions to ask since their visit.
More important to your CX strategy, it also demonstrates a tangible interest in their journey with your brand even after they have left your location or spent their money with you. Don’t let those opportunities pass you by.
Get feedback from customers and implement it.
You don’t have to guess when it comes to improving your customer service experience. Your customers will tell you if you actively obtain their feedback. Whether you conduct a survey via email or use an NPS (Net Promoter Score) system, you can get a pulse on the satisfaction of your customer base and the areas where you’re not keeping up with expectations.
NPS is a customer satisfaction benchmark that measures how likely your customers are to recommend your business to a friend. The NPS is determined by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors (negative feedback) from the percentage who are promoters (positive feedback).
By Rafi Cohen
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