It’s tough to meet customer expectations, let alone exceed them.
But it is possible. Here are 12 ideas to help you improve customer satisfaction.
1. Understand why your customers call
The majority of customer service operations still do not measure the reason why customers call, at least not in an ongoing and analytical way.
This should be the first port of call in your journey to exceeding customer expectations. If you learn why your customers call, you can publish answers to FAQs on your website and help your customers to help themselves.
With thanks to Mats Rennstam at Bright
2. Pair customers up with the same agent every time they call
With CLI you can identify existing customers by their phone number when they call. Your CTI layer can then automatically pop the customer’s information on to the agent’s screen, cutting down the amount of time it takes to identity check.
In addition to this, you can give your customers a more consistent experience by pairing them up, as far as possible, with an agent they have spoken to before. You can also identify high-value customers and push them through to a dedicated team or to your more experienced agents.
With thanks to Carl Adkins, Infinity CCS
3. Go the extra mile and send out birthday cards
For a truly exceptional service, go the extra mile and do something your customers won’t expect.
Send a birthday card, a Christmas gift, or a box of chocolates to celebrate their promotion. Even a coupon for their next shopping experience with you will help them feel rewarded.
The ripple effects of outstanding customer service extend beyond satisfaction and retention. It distinguishes your brand, builds repeat business and improves employee morale.
4. Use guiding prompts rather than entire scripts
Make sure your agents sound human not robotic!
Try giving out guiding prompts rather than entire scripts to make your agents sound more knowledgeable, confident and engaging.
With thanks to Jonathan Gale, NewVoiceMedia
5. Be proactive rather than reactive
Handling customer complaints proactively rather than reactively is a great way to exceed customer expectations.
Customers don’t want to spend their time chasing up complaints, which is why many decide to show their dissatisfaction by simply not doing business with you again. They may also choose to share their bad experiences with friends and family, resulting in a muddied reputation and potential loss of income.
Stand out from the crowd by contacting your customers before they’ve had the chance to make a complaint or, better still, before they’re even aware of a problem. A truly customer-centric approach to complaints will earn respect, trust and loyalty that will last long into the future.
With thanks to Laura Campos, Ultra Communications
6. Focus your time on your customers’ real priorities
Always ensure you focus your time and resources on your customers’ actual priorities, rather than pandering to industry myths.
This will enable you to run a cost efficient operation and exceed your customers’ expectations.
With thanks to Mats Rennstam, Bright
7. Personalise your customer interactions
Personalise each interaction using your customer database.
With analytics and background information at their fingertips, agents can be better equipped to deal with customers – anticipating possible issues, demonstrating knowledge of previous contacts and allowing them to recommend solutions then-and-there.
8. Speed up your problem-solving service
Speed is of the essence. Ensuring that a customer’s problem is understood quickly and that they do not have to re-explain themselves will help to guarantee that the customer leaves feeling positive about their experience.
With thanks to Mark King, Senior Vice President Europe and Africa at Aspect
9. Use accurate forecasting to meet customer demand
Long call-waiting times can be a major cause of customer service dissatisfaction. The use of accurate forecasting and workforce optimisation software can help you to balance customer demand with the number of agents.
By maintaining this balance, call-waiting times and abandoned call rates can be reduced and resolution times increased. The costs associated with under or over staffing, including loss of sales, can also be minimised.
10. Look after your customers on hold
If you do have a queue situation, look after your customers on hold by using multiple comfort prompts such as ‘position in queue’ or ‘time to answer’ announcements. This will help to reassure your customers, as well as manage their expectations.
Allowing customers to remove themselves from a queue and instead receive a call when an agent is available can also improve your customers’ perception of your business, as well as reduce call waiting times.
With thanks to Richard Farrell, Chief Technical Officer, Netcall
11. Create consistency across all channels
Enabling your agents to handle multiple types of transaction has numerous benefits for the overall customer experience. It means that if your customer has several problems which need dealing with in the course of one interaction they do not need to be transferred from department to department.
This is where intelligent workflow really comes into its own. It can take a long time to train even the most capable agent to handle multiple types of transaction and queries, especially if they are complex and require the use of different back-office systems. An intelligent workflow, run in the agent’s desktop, not only guides the agent through the process for each transaction type, but also acts as the agent’s only interface.
Whether your customers are contacting you by phone, email, chat or social media, they expect a consistently high level of service and a fast, knowledgeable response which solves their problem quickly.
With thanks to Carl Adkins, Infinity CCS
12. Develop new products in line with customer needs
If a customer needs something you don’t provide, it’s worth considering whether it is something your other clients might use as well.
If a valid business case can be made (which in our experience is frequent), launching a new product, and informing the original customer about it, will not only make the customer feel that they are being looked after but also increase sales.
With thanks to Simon Beeching, Syntec
For more on the topic of understanding, managing and exceeding customer expectations, read our articles:
Build customer relationship with one call resolution and make customer happy prior ending the call.
As a customer service representative in a busy call center, I take to heart the lessons I read in the book INSIDE THE MAGIC KINGDOM, Disney’s Keys to Success by Tom Connellan. Specifically, I focus on one of the first lessons or keys that he reveals. And that is, that whoever I may be working for, and whatever service or product they may provide, that the person calling into my line is judging us and comparing us to other companies. And not just other companies that provide the same services…but with every other company that they have called in to and spoken to a customer service representative. That means that they are comparing my company and myself to the airlines, banks, utility companies, and any other company they have called into. And sadly, with the perceived attitude of calls per hour being king and everything else must be sacrificed to meet that metric, often the caller, wherever they are calling to face customer service reps who are curt, rude, and don’t communicate that they care about the caller or their situation. This results in high degrees of frustration and anger in the caller…and it is understandable. We have all called into some business, waited on hold and then talked to a representative who clearly couldn’t be bothered. We all have gotten that type of response at least once. So have our customers! And so, they are comparing us…our company with every other company they’ve ever called to. And in many cases they are expecting to be treated in a negative way. It is a sad truth, but poor customer service from call center representatives is almost pandemic across the board.
And so the person who calls in is expecting this same experience… no wonder they are often already agitated and upset when they call in. They are expecting the same run around as they have gotten from every other company!
But imagine the power that we have as customer service and call center professionals.
We answer the phone with a smile and cheerful voice… and we listen carefully to the caller. If they are unhappy we let them vent, and try to determine what the root problem is. We make sure that we give them our name and assure them that we will help them. We research the options before us and find the best possible solution. If needed, we get their name and ask their permission to call back and set an appointment to call them back with either a solution or updates… and we follow through on our promise! We call them by their preferred name (the use of mister or ms with their last name is always acceptable unless they tell you to call them by their first names). If it is a problem, we thank them for bringing this to our attention so that we can fix it and try to prevent it happening in the future.
In doing these simple things, we have placed our own company and it’s reputation for this customer at a very high level! They are pleased to actually have someone who treats them like an individual…as a person… and we become not just someone at the other end of the phone to them… but someone they can believe in and have faith in.
Results! Because a representative who does these things exceeds the customer’s expectations just in the phone conversation alone, this places our company above all the others that they havve ever called… It places us in a position where they will remember us… and if asked about the best place to call for the service or product we provide, they will remember us… and recommend us to their colleagues and/or friends.
They go from being just a client or customer to a vocal advocate for our company… and that is priceless.