Guest Post by Peggy Carlaw, founder of Impact Learning Systems (Learn more about Peggy at the bottom of this post)
You know that providing top-notch customer service is good business practice. But do you know just how good?
Customers Spend More for Good Customer Service
According to the American Express 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer, over half of customers over 81 in 11 countries indicated they have spent more with a company because of positive customer service experiences. In the U.S., this figure is a whopping 75%. What would it mean to your business if 75% of your customers would buy more of your products and services?
Many companies try to elicit additional sales through up-selling or cross-selling. What they don’t realize is that the chances of a customer service rep being able to make that sale is just about zero if they haven’t first provided the customer with stellar service leading to a good customer experience.
First, teach customer service reps how to provide good service. Arm them with the tools and processes they need to handle customer requests expeditiously. And build enthusiasm by helping them see the higher purpose of their job. For example, a customer service rep in a credit card call center, doesn’t just offer balance transfer, they help people save money and reduce anxiety by combining their credit cards into one. Get testimonials from current customers as to how balance transfers made their lives easier and less stressful. Your reps’ new vision of themselves and their job will translate to an improved customer experience.
If you want customers to spend more, rather than tack a cross-sell offer on to the end of a transaction teach customer service employees to listen to customer’s needs, read between the lines, and bridge to the offer. For example, “Janna, you mentioned earlier that skiing is your favorite sport. Now I know you’re probably not thinking of hitting the slopes yet this year, but I do want to let you know about a fabulous parka we have on sale…”
Poor Service Leads to Lost Sales
According to the same American Express survey, 40% of consumers have not completed a transition or made a purchase because of poor customer service. In the U.S., that figure rises to 55%! So if your service isn’t excellent, you may have lost over half your sales.
In addition to hiring the right people and providing them with training and tools as indicated earlier, the most important thing you can do to prevent poor service is to monitor and coach your service staff.
Set standards for performance and hold all employees to the same standards. Offering praise is the most effective coaching strategy. Tell reps not only what they’re doing right, tell them why their actions matter to the customer or the employee. If you need to correct behavior, tell the employee what behavior is expected, why it’s important to maintain that standard, and what you observed the employee doing instead. Then help the employee work out a plan to improve performance.
It’s easy to focus on sales as a way of increasing revenue. Remember that the type of customer service you provide impacts the bottom line as well.
About the Author: Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems, a provider of customer service training. She is an advocate for providing customers the best experience possible. Impact Learning Systems is an international customer service training organization that creates breakthrough improvement in the performance of sales, service, and support staff. Visit <a href=”http://www.impactlearning.com/ http://www.impactlearning.com/. to learn more!