Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of ecommerce giant Amazon, has described his company’s customer service philosophy as follows: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little better.” With this mandate, is it any wonder Amazon.com has topped USA Today’s “Customer Service Hall of Fame” for the past five years?
To capitalize on market trends of double-digit U.S. ecommerce growth and pervasive internet access, there is no better time than now to enhance your company’s online “customer experience.” Here are some tips to help you in your quest for excellence.
- Use social media to your advantage. These days, a rant about your company can be tweeted to hundreds, if not thousands, of people, and retweeted to hundreds, if not thousands, more. A survey of 690 social media users revealed 42 percent of those who contact a company on social media expect a response in one hour or less and 24 percent expect a reply within 30 minutes. Even if your company lacks the resources to deliver this degree of service, you could monitor your company’s social media sites regularly and respond within a reasonable timeframe—a delayed response is much better than none.
- Pay attention to email etiquette. Examine your company’s emails to customers. Are they professionally written or are there misspellings, excessive exclamation points and smiley faces? More importantly, do they show genuine care for customers’ concerns and complaints? Bear in mind, when receiving a written communication the recipient is unable to observe the facial expression or tone of voice of the sender. Through words alone the customer service message must impart empathy for the customer and the intention to rapidly address the customer’s concerns. Finally, attempted humor in a customer service email is always risky; your customer may wind up offended or simply confused. Steer clear of this practice.
- Provide regular customer updates. If resolving a customer service issue is taking longer than it should, send an update email to the customer as a reassurance a resolution is in the works. This brief message goes a long way in maintaining good relations.
- Implement employee incentives. If a customer reaches out to your company to praise an employee by name, be sure to give that employee public recognition and a reward, such as a small gift card. This gesture motivates the employee to continue delivering quality customer service and sets a good example for co-workers.
“It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little better.”
Remember, if you’re the only game in town, customers may not have a choice of suppliers. However, this scenario is highly unlikely. In a survey by Lee Resources, results showed that 91 percent of unhappy customers will not willingly do business again with the same company. Clearly, the best way to keep your customers is to keep them happy and give them the best possible customer experience.