Don’t neglect customers: 8 ways to ramp up your service
12 October 2023
Ever get the feeling that customer service is just not what it used to be?
Turns out you are right. Whether it’s poorly trained customer service execs, long-winded and inefficient complaints processes, or the feeling that a product or service no longer offers value for money, the UK’s consumers are fed up.
According to the Institute of Customer Service, customer satisfaction is at its lowest ebb since 2015. In its report, published in July, the Institute revealed that almost half of the 10,000 customers surveyed said that it took longer than expected for problems to be resolved, with customers more likely to experience a negative response when lodging a complaint, compared to previous years.
Customers are the lifeblood of every business – especially in the UK. In this country, 60% of employees work in customer-facing roles and 80% of our GDP is generated from services.
I’m a passionate advocate for customer experience – this has been the bedrock of every business I have created. It’s disheartening that so many organisations are letting service levels falter. So, here are my eight pillars of advice for stellar customer service.
1. Have a phone number
If a customer has a problem, and needs urgent help, they can call us and speak to a human being. There’s nothing worse than being fobbed off with a chatbot or being issued with a digital ticket when you really need a resolution right now. BigChange is very unusual in this respect – very few tech companies still put an office line on their website, but I believe that human beings, located in the same country as your customers – and speaking the same language – are key to first-class customer service.
2. Resolve problems quickly
At BigChange, we have a smart flagging system, which ensures that issues are highlighted efficiently. When something has a “red flag”, we know we need to take action, and team members will work tirelessly to help that customer. Without a flagging system, all complaints and comments, important and trivial, sit in the same online repository. Not all complaints are equal – it’s important that your organisation is able to tell the difference between a fire that needs fighting now, and a problem that can be handled tomorrow.
3. The same customer service for all
It doesn’t matter how many licenses you hold with BigChange, or how big your organisation is, everyone gets access to our gold-standard customer service team. That, for me, is so important. We do not believe in offering different levels of service to smaller customers. That is unethical and unfair. Unlike some companies in this space, our Roadcrew team members are available for mobile workers on the road, as well as back office staff. If you’re on a job and need advice or help resolving a problem, you can speak to someone straight away – you don’t have to go via your HQ.
4. Measure everything
No business is perfect. There are always ways to improve your customer service offering. But how will you know what needs work unless you ask the right questions? The Net Promoter Score, which rates how likely customers are to recommend you, at every stage of their journey, provides that crucial insight.
5. Invest in customer service
At BigChange, a third of the business is customer-facing. A massive chunk of payroll is dedicated to this vital task. And we really invest in these individuals, putting them through the BigChange University, so they can become grandmasters at using our technology – and are able to pass on these learnings to customers. You need to empower your people through knowledge and training so they can offer the best service possible.
6. Be proactive
Don’t just wait for something to go wrong before speaking to your customers. Keep in regular contact, ask for feedback, and action updates before issues can arise. When our Chief Operating Officer, Ian Burgess, first joined BigChange, he embarked on an ambitious project to really ramp up our customer experience, increasing the number of touchpoints on the customer journey, and creating a customer success platform, which proactively offers help and insights to our user base. We don’t tell them it’s raining, we tell them it will rain next week, and here’s what to do about it – and we don’t charge them for the advice.
7. Foster great communication
You can only offer extraordinary customer service if all your departments communicate well with one another. You can’t have your sales team promising one thing, and your product team creating something different, and your customer service people in the dark about it all. Everyone needs to be working together, pulling in the same direction, and helping each other to create the best possible customer experience. We do this at BigChange through our team events, which bring together people from all over the business, and our habit of allowing people to move across the business, taking knowledge and contacts from one team to another.
8. Give customers a dedicated contact
If you can, make sure that customers speak to the same person, or couple of people, every time they interact with your organisation. This has many benefits – these people will know that customer inside out, and be able to offer unrivalled insight and advice, while the customer will experience that consistency and sense of engagement. It really makes them feel cared for and confident that someone will take ownership in the event of an issue.
Customer service has always set me apart, in every industry I’ve worked in. It’s so important to keep investing in this vital part of your business, especially as you grow. Service levels may be deteriorating but this could be just the opportunity you were waiting for – take your customer service up a notch and you’ll really stand out from the crowd.
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