It’s our job to help companies grow their business. That’s our core objective and we take it very personally—your goals are our goals. However, the longer we do this, the more we realize that online marketing—giving our companies a solid online presence, functional and impressive website, and top rankings on all the major search engines—does no good if the company doesn’t have customer service to back it up.
The most common client objective is to grow their business. We deliver with higher search rankings, a solid social media presence and quality content on their website (to see why read our content marketing post). Our partnership with them and online marketing efforts produce customer leads through comments, online forms, emails and calls.
But what good are those leads if no one follows up? Most company owners do not set out to build a company with poor customer service, but customer inquiries often fall through the cracks. The result: a company providing poor customer service. So how can your company improve your customer service?
- Don’t make email inquiries your last priority. We live in a digital world, with smart phones, tablets and computers becoming more common—and being used more and more to make purchasing decisions.
- Set a standard operating procedure for handling customer inquiries. Don’t just handle customer inquiries without a strategy. Set a plan in place for handling phone calls, email inquiries and social media messages—and stick to it.
- Make sure everyone answering the phones and emails are trained on SOPs and how to respond. A poorly trained employee is a liability when answering the phones. Don’t just throw your employees into the fire. Train and educate them. Inform them of SOPs and make sure they know proper protocols for answering the phones, handling customer questions and dealing with angry customers.
- Designate someone responsible for answering and following through on each inquiry. This doesn’t mean you triple one employee’s workload. Choose an employee to answer phones, another to answer emails and a third to check your social media sites for messages. Be flexible. An employee completely overwhelmed by emails or phone calls is not in a good position to deliver exceptional customer service. Though you’ve designated employees, let them know to jump in if the phone is ringing off the hook or the inbox is full.
- Offer customer service online, but don’t feel like you need to answer customer questions 24/7. Today’s consumers expect businesses to answer them within an hour, thanks to the instantaneous of the internet. However, you don’t need to provide that service all day and night. Put your business hours on your online form, and make it clear that inquiries are answered during that time.
- Remember, every customer counts. It only takes one person’s bad experience to ruin a business’ reputation, and news travels fast on social media. One wrong response, or dropped inquiry can spread across the internet like wildfire. Though it may be tempting to just let that inquiry go because of a complex answer or a large workload, answer each inquiry as soon and completely as possible.
Study after study has proven that testimonials, and in our modern day, online reviews (like on Facebook), play a role in customers’ decision whether to purchase a company’s service or product. If you are not delivering good customer service, unfavorable reviews pile up on your social media sites and word spreads about your subpar customer service. The result: you can’t reach your goals no matter how much marketing tools you employ. We can create the marketing tools on your behalf, but you need to back it up with exceptional customer service. The good news: by using our customer service tips, you can achieve your goals and customers’ goals—two targets that should be in sync, or at least overlap.