A wise man once said that modern and successful companies know that great customer relationships today require more than just a good product.
Keeping this quote in mind, what according to you forms the basis of a solid customer – company relationship? What impresses your customer the most about the company?
Is it the infrastructure, tools and systems such as the best call center software that you use to service them? Is it the quality of staff you are hiring? Or, is it, quite simply the end product or service you are selling?
Let’s get one thing clear at the very beginning. While the above mentioned points may seem like the “be all, and end all” of it and that may be your priority when you start out, you will soon realize that customer relationships aren’t all that simple.
What attracts and endears customers is how much effort you put into the relationship. If you were to look at this relationship like a marriage, you would see that a certain amount of understanding and compassion is of the utmost importance.
Unless both parties are satisfied and convinced that this relationship is for the greater good, it wouldn’t last long.
In the race to the top, more often than not, we tend to lose sight of what is in front of us. We end up taking our customers for granted and in the process, we lose their trust and loyalty.
If there is one piece of advice we can bestow upon you, it is this – customer loyalty is the very foundation on which your entire company rests.
The impact of the last sentence still resonates in your mind, doesn’t it? Good. That is precisely what we wanted.
Irrespective of whether you run a small business or a large one, your customer and the relationship you share with the customer should be your top priority.
Simply getting the right tools such as a call center software for small business wouldn’t suffice. You need to go the extra mile.
You need to do whatever it takes to win over your customer.
Well, thankfully, your customers aren’t impossible to please. There are certain things you could do that could help you score some brownie points.
They are certainly hard to please – but that’s the fun part. Ready for the challenge that you’re faced it? Got your game face on? There, that’s the spirit. Now you are ready for the 25 tips that can help you enhance your customer relationships:
1. Address your customer by the name. When you call up a customer, irrespective of the reason, most agents tend to ask for details like phone number and address.
While these little minute bits of information are actually important, they make the customer feel puny and insignificant.
When you address a customer by their name, it makes them feel like a person and immediately warms them up to you. The name should be enough to provide you with whatever information you need.
2. Smile while speaking to your customers. It might seem a tad bit weird to you because you will be speaking to your customers via phone and technically, they cannot see you. But the reality is, when you smile, your customers can sense it in your voice.
Your voice sounds cheery and you come off as someone who is glad to help the customers out. A smile can melt hearts; even if your customer is calling you up with an agitated voice, a smile can calm them down.
3. Customer care agents are trained for a lot of things. They are trained to handle customers and the systems at their disposal such as the call center management software.
Another thing they are trained for is being able to understand the customer’s perspective. Empathy is one skill that you need to work on.
When your customers call you up to tell you about their problems, the last thing they want is a hint of sympathy in your voice. They would rather you understood their point of view and worked accordingly.
4. Irrespective of the situation, when your customers call you, they are bound to come with a list of things they consider they prioritize.
This is when your listening skills come into play. You need to listen and understand your customers’ priorities and share them too.
You need to follow what the customer is trying to say and work with them, not over them. That always makes the customer feel important.
5. Chances are, when customers call up customer care, they are in deep trouble and need your help. They are likely to be agitated, if not furious and frustrated.
In that case, you need to let your customer rant and ramble on for as long as they want. Until your customers are able to actually get it out, they wouldn’t be prepared to receive anything you have to offer.
Once you feel that your customer is done, you can proceed to the solutions. A good listener is always appreciated.
6. Most customers feel that customer care reps don’t pay much attention to what they are saying. This is where you can prove them wrong.
When your customer finishes speaking, repeat what you heard – without being redundant of course. You wouldn’t be repeating the whole time since that would be wasting valuable time.
Instead, you just give the impression that you were indeed listening and that you are cautious and want to be sure.
7. Your customer’s problem is your problem. This is something you need to get into your head in the very beginning.
Do not treat your customers as separate beings. Is that how you would treat your friend, if he or she came up to you with problems?
The answer is, no. Empathy and compassion are the keys to good customer service. Adopt your customer’s problem it as your own and approach it the way you would if you were in their shoes.
8. Apologize for any shortcomings. If your company is in the wrong or if your customer calls you up with a complaint, then a simple apology can go a long way in solving the problem.
It doesn’t matter how enraged your customer is; a simple “sorry” could melt their hearts and make them more receptive to what you have to say. Don’t try to defend your company or prove yourself right – that may infuriate them further.
9. When it comes to building a solid rapport with your customers, you really do not need to have anything in common with your customers.
The concept of rapport that applies to other relationships isn’t applicable here. You are the customer service agent – how the conversation turns out is in your hands.
If you have the best skills as far as communication is concerned, you wouldn’t have to worry about having things in common with your customer.
10. A good customer care agents is adaptable, flexible and versatile. No two customers are the same; neither do they have the same expectations.
As a trained agent in customer care, you should be able to adapt to the situation. Complicated situations may arise at any moment – however, it is your duty to approach the problem as it comes, adapt to it and come up with meaningful solutions. This is a skill that you develop over time.
11. What we are about to say is a legitimate psychological trick that has been proven to be immensely helpful. While speaking to your customers, make sure you have a tone of urgency in your voice.
Show your excitement and eagerness. That matches their mood and also reassures them that you’ve paid due attention. While you move to the solution part of it, calm down and start speaking in a more relaxed manner.
That has a calming effect on the customer as well.
12. Don’t rush your customers. This is a common mistake we have noticed. Customer care agents, as soon as they hear the problem of the customer, rush to offer solutions from the available options.
But that shouldn’t be your course of action. No matter what your customer tells you, build a solid rapport first. The call center software solutions that you deploy must have features such as Notes, Remarks, Call Recording, and tracking of historical interactions.
This helps the agent to reel in your customer and establish a solid foundation for a relationship. Only after having done that, should you move on to the solutions.
13. Do not generalize your customers or treat them merely in a professional manner. Show that you are personally interested in them.
Customers have often spoken about how they feel like one of the many faces in a crowd – having no value or significance whatsoever. However, that should not be the case.
Show that you are genuinely interested in your customers and make them feel wanted and special.
14. Know your stuff. This is probably one of the most important pieces of advice we can give you. Before dealing with customers, you really need to know your product.
Stepping into the field unprepared is one of the biggest crimes you can commit in the customer care business. Know your product and the services you offer inside out.
That way, when your customers call you up about a specific problem, you know what they’re speaking of.
15. Be respectful towards your customers; treat them with respect not just because they are your customers and you are expected to serve them but as a fellow human being.
They are calling you up with their problems because they trust you to help them. Treat them with the respect they deserve.
16. Start the call with something positive and optimistic. That sets the tone for the rest of call. So what if your customer is calling you up with a grave issue?
That doesn’t mean you have to start the call in a gloomy way? How would you feel if someone did that to you? Start the call with a cheery tone – that would brighten up the mood of your customer too. Haven’t you heard the saying that positivity is projected?
17. Stay focused throughout the call. It is quite easy to zone out or get distracted while speaking to your customers; this is more so in the case of long phone calls of after a hard day’s work.
No matter how hard it is, you need to stay focused and actually listen to what the customer has to say. Otherwise, you might miss out on something important and that could further infuriate the customer.
Paying close attention would help you in coming up with solutions.
18. Don’t get chatty with all customers. Customers who are already furious do not want to get into a friendly conversation.
For them, it is purely business. They want you to know they are displeased and expect you to fix it as soon as possible.
Chatting them up might worsen the situation. As a customer care rep, you are expected to understand intonation and sense the tone of the customer who calls you up.
19. Do not make assumptions. Customers haven’t called you up and waited so long to hear something like, “I guess…” If you want to prevent your customers from hanging up, be sure and confident of what you say.
Don’t give off the impression that you do not know the answer and that you are merely groping about in the dark.
20. While it is perfectly all right to be jovial and cheery throughout the call, inappropriate humor is uncalled for. No one likes sarcasm, especially if they are in trouble.
Similarly, an inappropriate joke may result in a complaint and a black mark to your name. We encourage a light hearted conversation; but don’t forget that this is your customer you’re speaking to – not your friend.
21. If you are working as a customer care agent, you are going to have at least one tough call a day and challenging customers galore. So what do you do? Do you linger on them and let it ruin the rest of the calls for you? Of course NOT!
22. Don’t keep your customers waiting. If your call volumes have increased and you are unable to handle a particular customer, use cloud call center software solutions that are suited to handle such peaks and have features like giving customers the option to wait or expect a call back.
23. Maintain open lines of communication with your customers. Your customer relationship should be a two way street. Both the customer care agent and the customer should be able to express their points of view clearly. No one party should try to override the other.
24. Take the opinions of your customers into account. Customers want their feedback to be validated. If they have some complaints, look into it. Empty promises of you fixing it will not suffice. Since you are taking feedback, make sure you do something about it.
25. Lastly, let us take a look at the various stages in customer loyalty. Suspect. Prospect. First time customer. Repeat customer. Client advocate. Once you have a clear idea of each stage, you should be able to satisfy your customers better and retain them as well.
The case study
There are several ways of improving customer relationships, some of which have been mentioned in the points above. Customers are pretty finicky – they come to you with high hopes and expectations and expect you to live up to them.
We are providing you with a detailed case study that tells you exactly what to do and how to improve customer relationships in the future.
“Build A Bear” is a company that has been around for some fifteen years and is dedicated mainly to children. The company allows the kids to design and create their own soft toys and teddy bears. Innovative, isn’t it? This way the kids get to explore their own creativity and let their imagination run wild.
In 16 years, the company has expanded to more than 400 stores where kids have created over 115 million stuffed toys. Even today, this company remains the only one to provide such an experience.
However, with the development in technology and science, it was important to come up with solutions that would allow the kids to design better toys and experiment with new and advanced technologies.
They wanted to combine the benefits of a hands-on experience and the virtual world for the kids. Kids today are very different from what they were 16 years ago. Today, they expect you to combine the pleasure associated with traditional teddy bears and toys with the thrill of digital play.
It took years for Build A Bear to come up with a solution they really liked. The company went with the solutions put forth by one of the largest technological giants in the world today.
The new technology provided took into account each step in the process of designing and making teddy bears. It used touch screen displays and other tools which made the experience all the more enjoyable.
Basically, the new technology provided a wholesome personalized experience for all the kids participating in digital play. Consequently, Build A Bear saw a tremendous surge in traffic and at least a 30 % boost in sales.
If Build A Bear could do it, so can you. Once you get the hang of it, pleasing customers shouldn’t be that complicated a task. After all, a company that really understands the customer’s needs is a company that reaches the top. So, think – where do you see yourself in five years?
Case study link: