See You at the Top: A Guide to Winning at Customer Service

If your customer has a beloved cat, as one company learned, ask after the feline; you'll get results.
See You at the Top: A Guide to Winning at Customer Service
Image credit: shutterstock
CEO, Millionaire Writers Agency
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Quality customer service is one of the major ingredients that make for the success of any business, regardless of its size. You could employ all the native advertising, traditional advertising or content marketing strategies you know. You could get loads of patronage, at least initially. But unless you know how to turn those customers into repeat customers, you may as well kiss your business goodbye.

Related: The Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience

Poor customer service, in fact, can be just plain detrimental: Dissatisfied customers, by word of mouth, may discourage new customers from trying your product or service. On the flip side, satisfied customers, using the same medium, may win you referrals.

That's why your business needs to win at customer service. Below is a guide for succeeding at this important function.

1. Know your customers

Most customers love to be known personally. Get to know them, then. Remember their names, personal details and even previous contacts. Of course, this could be difficult if your business has grown and you have a lot of customers.

The solution, according to this article on Recruiterbox, is to create a database about your customers, to help you remember vital things about them so you can relate with them on a personal level. In the author’s words, “I’ve got a client who is crazy about her cat, whose name is Brutus. Her file in my database lists information on the cat, so that when she calls, I always remember to ask after her favorite feline; and this has helped me to develop a great rapport over the years.”

2. Quality customer service should be your priority.

Once you know your customers and their preferences, the next goal should be to prioritize their satisfaction. One company that does this particularly well is Nordstrom.

While answering a Quora question on why she thought Nordstrom has excellent customer service, Ambra Benjamin listed a couple of things the company does that endear customers. One item listed was separate checkout bays in different departments; another was well-trained salespeople, who offer to “ring up your purchase without you ever having to stand in line.” Salespeople walk customers to where their desired sales items are located, Benjamin wrote; music and ambience are also helpful features.

Related: The 4 Essentials of a Customer Service Plan

3. Recruit and train the right people.

The next thing after setting quality customer service as a goal of your business is to hire and train the right people.

People with the right attitude are critical to a successful customer service strategy. Excellent customer service delivery requires constant training of these staff. Important here are efforts to sustain for your staff a planned training program in both job skills and people skills.

Customers want to encounter well-informed and professional customer-service representatives who have an effective system at their disposal to resolve their, the customers', issues. This can go a long way toward helping companies retain customers and enjoying repeat business.

4. Create a feedback channel for your customers.

Creating a means for customers to give feedback helps you learn from your customers about the areas of your business that need improvement. It can also prevent unhappy customers from expressing their disapproval on public platforms such as social media channels.

You can obtain feedback by using a phone survey at the end of a service call or an email survey sent directly from your customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

5. Get yourself help-desk software.

To achieve quality customer-service delivery, you must be available and accessible. Your customers must be able to reach you whenever they need to make their order, make a complaint or ask a question. But this can be difficult if you are handling customer comment manually, especially if you have a high volume of customers.

To make things easier and more efficient, use help-desk software. That way, your IT department won’t have to manually log in issues, or sort through tons of disorganized mails to address a customer’s request or complaint.

Sarah Lahav, the CEO of Sysaid, describes helpdesk systems as an IT department’s best friend. In her own words, Helpdesk software [programs] are the definition of efficiency, a way to put your IT personnel on steroids -- and that is a good thing.”

6. Resolve customer disputes quickly.

Stay calm when your customers express tension due to an issue they have. When you stay calm, you douse the tension, which will make them to relax and talk to you.

Next, recognize the problem, accept responsibility and apologize, even if you think the problem is not your fault. Then agree to follow through to fix the problem.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric

Excellent customer service is not rocket science. Companies like Amazon, Chick-Fil-A and Apple have been listed by authoritative publications like USA Today and Talkdesk as customer service hall of famers. Your business may not be as big, but by using the steps above, your company can excel at customer service, too.

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Create your business plan in half the time with twice the impact using Entrepreneur's BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan. Try risk free for 60 days.

Latest on Entrepreneur