Client service, broadly defined, means supplying your customers with what they want, when they want it and how they want it, in a friendly and professional way. Client service is a vital ingredient in any business. In fact, a good service interaction can hike business-to-business transactions by 62 percent. It can raise business-to-consumer transactions by 42 percent.
So delivery of great client service needs to be on your mind for both growing your business and robust retention rates.
But what are the best ways to deliver dynamic service to clients? Here are six.
1. Always available wins the game
Clients like to know that people are available to them -- always be available to respond to their needs, whether they are asking about shipment dates or product features. Answer phone calls, e-mails and texts as quickly as possible, but certainly within 24 hours.
If a client is asking about something you need to check on, whether it’s product specifications or a billing date, don’t let that stop the quickness of your response. Tell the client you need to take a thorough look at the spec sheet once you’re back in the office, or you want to touch base with the accounting department. Then, of course, follow up with the answer. Clients will appreciate knowing their needs are on your mind.
2. Listen to their needs, not your quota
The best client service comes from people listening to other people. All businesses have needs. Products and services are purchased because those needs are filled. If your company is offering goods and services that interface only with certain software, for example, it might be a genuine problem for companies that have already invested in a different software type.
Rather than suggesting that the client change something they have already put capital and training time in to, listen to why they use it. Could your product be reconfigured to fit what they already have? If so, you may come to be seen as a client service star.
3. Use a business phone answering system
Quick response to a client often takes place over e-mail or even text. You may not be in a place where you can comfortably take a call during the day, especially one where you want to lay the groundwork for even better customer service, like listening attentively and taking notes. You could be in meetings, on a call or walking through a plant floor. Clients themselves may also be out of the office and not always reachable by phone.
But a direct conversation will often yield insights and data that purely electronic communication can’t. It can be perceived as warmer and friendlier to communicate by phone than by e-mail as well. For those reasons, telephone communication needs to be part of your business plan. A business phone answering system answers all your calls and makes sure you never miss one, professionally and accurately. It reassures your clients that they can reach you anytime and anywhere.
4. Train your staff
All staff providing support to you needs to be trained in their role toward clients. They need to be able to answer questions that don’t need your attention, for instance.
Make sure you have touched base regarding business etiquette, too. Emphasize the need to be polite and not as casual as you’d be with friends. This is especially important if you have a young staff who might think social media rules apply in business. Not all of them do. Also, make sure your staff knows to be available to clients for their level of support. The 24-hour rule needs to be in effect for them as well.
5. Be thoroughly familiar with your product
Don’t expect a client to be impressed if they ask a routine question about your product or service, and you can’t answer it off the top of your head. Yes, there may be times when a question requires specialized knowledge, and you’ll need to check. But you should be familiar enough with your product that answering most questions is second nature to you.
Product familiarity is in part a matter of experience. But if you’re just starting out or provide so many products that keeping up is a challenge, take the time to familiarize yourself outside of work. Study the products like you’d study for a test until you know them backward, forward and upside down. That way, you’ll be able to speak expertly about what you can provide.
6. Put a feedback plan in place
A continuous feedback loop is ideal for driving better client service. Clients tell you how well you met their needs. If everything is fine, great! If there are areas in which you need to step up your game, you will know about them specifically. Then, you strive to improve in the areas where they’d like to see improvement -- and the feedback loop continues.
Ideally, a feedback plan gives real-time feedback. Just delivered a major new system? That’s a good time to ask for feedback about timing, knowledge, quality of service and so on. If you’re going to ask for feedback, though, be sure to do it right away. Otherwise, clients may not remember their experience as well -- and it can be annoying having to provide feedback after the fact.
Customer service is an important part of any business. Use these tips to help your company excel with it.