By Andrew Tillery
Brands breathe. You can create a product, build a company, and hire employees, but the moment you land your first customer is the moment your brand is born. Just as it is for any proud new parent, it is up to you to protect your newborn from the dangers of the outside world.
Nothing is more harmful to your brand than a poor customer support experience. Even if a customer receives an extremely flawed product, they are far more likely to forgive and forget this experience if they feel like the company listens to them, cares about their experience, and makes a genuine effort to improve their situation. This level of care and attention can be expensive and difficult to maintain.
It is no wonder why there are thousands of tools and strategies designed to make supporting customers easier for companies trying to build their brand. Even though many of these can be helpful, it is important to keep in mind that no matter what you are selling, when your product moves off the shelf or the services have been rendered, and revenue comes in, that isn’t just a sale; that is a relationship activity between you and your customer. That means regardless of what you are selling, you are in the business of relationships—and relationships take work.
Even though creating a solid customer support experience requires a substantial amount of energy and effort, the path is fairly simple when you pay attention. We are all customers of brands we enjoy and we all know how we want to be treated. By spending some time creating a strategy and following a few helpful tips, you can create an experience that will establish and cement your customers as lifelong fans of your brand.
Here are six ways to elevate your customer service to superstar status:
1. Set expectations early and clearly
One of the easiest ways to clear up any potential customer issue is to clearly define what the expectations should be. As we mentioned earlier, you are curating a relationship. The goal should be to set up the relationship for success from the very beginning. This means you should clearly communicate what the customer can expect from your products and/or services as well as make sure your policies are easy to understand, easy to access, and easy to follow.
Information that is easy to access and understand is your front line of defense against a poor customer experience. Mastering this can set you apart from your competition, improve overall interactions with your customers, and protect your brand from the cancer of confusion.
Strategy tip: Start by looking at each customer question as a wrinkle in the customer life cycle. Each time you try to smooth out one of these wrinkles, ask yourself two questions: “At what point does the customer run into this question?” and “How can I provide the answer to this question before it occurs to the customer to ask?” Each time you can effectively answer these questions and deploy the appropriate responses, your efforts will, from that point on, continue to reward you and your future customers.
2. Stay engaged and responsive in your channels of communication
Regardless of how clearly you define what the expectations should be, relationships still require communication. Creating the ability for your customers to “self-serve” can be an incredibly valuable asset. However, if customers have no way of connecting to an actual person, they can quickly translate that into feeling like they aren’t heard, cared about, or listened to.