These days, it feels like there’s nothing that hasn’t already been invented; as though there’s a product or solution for every imagined need. So much so that when someone mentions, “We should make something something that…,” my gut reaction is, “I guarantee someone, somewhere, already has.”
This doesn’t mean that new solutions aren’t being created every day, or to discourage invention or innovation.
Rather, it’s meant to point out that what differentiates brands anymore isn’t their product. Products (and services) can, most of the time, be replicated and improved upon.
When searching for something I need, I know that most of the time the products are going to be fairly comparable. So, I stop shopping for the product, and start shopping for something bigger: Service.
No matter the product, customer service is what I’m shopping for
Let me give you an example.
Recently, I decided to re-launch my personal blog. My old one hadn’t been updated in ages, and the account I was using to manage it had since been deleted from the platform.
Instead of re-activating it, I decided to start fresh, which meant shopping around for a new hosting site. I went through the usual process – some light googling, and reaching out to friends to ask about their experiences with different sites.
Overall, the various options all seemed pretty similar. Similar user experiences, similar templates and technical functionalities, even similar price points. It felt like it was just a matter of picking one and diving in.
Since I had a good idea of what I wanted the site to look like, and knew I’d want to tinker with it until it was *just right,* the #1 thing I started looking into was the customer service, and how easy it would be to find answers to the questions I ran into.
The site that built their messaging and reputation around their stellar customer service won my business. And within weeks, I put it to the test when I was struggling to organize the category pages as I wanted.
Five-star customer experience requires six-star service
Using the site’s customer service chat function, I explained what I wanted to do, where I hit the roadblock, and asked if they could help.
The person on the other end – from all indicators in the chat – seemed to be a real person, who reacted to my verbiage like a person, not a robot. She was able to pull up my site template, understand what I was trying to do, ensure me that it was possible, and direct me to four helpful resources on the back end of the site.
Some were videos, some how-to manuals, and some customer Q&A’s. She recommended certain how-to pages to learn about customizing my blog, even after sorting out the singular issue I’d been concerned with. She was upfront about the limitations of the template I chose, but assured me it could do all of the things I was hoping.
I left the chat with a list of links that I’ve since referenced multiple times, because they’re actually helpful.
With one customer service interaction, they won me over as a brand evangelist. I’ve told this story to several people and heart the reply, “Oh, so their podcast ads aren’t lying.” They’re not. Their service really is that great.
4 ways to improve customer service (thereby improving the customer experience)
When buying a product or service, I expect a certain type of relationship, and have no qualms with the fact that the relationship will be mainly transactional.
The chance for brands to differentiate themselves is when there’s an issue or question that consumers can’t answer themselves.
Here are four ways to improve customer service in the crucial moments that make or break customer loyalty:
1.) Help me help myself: I’ll always try to fix the issue before contacting customer service. Provide FAQs, or a customer forum where I may be able to find what I’m looking for on my own.
2.) Make the process clear: As a consumer, I know there will be things I can’t fix on my own. I also know your company and service agents have limitations to what they can provide. Don’t make me jump through hoops – if you know there’s a limitation to the service you can provide (maybe you can’t initiate returns via chat, for example), state that clearly so 20 minutes aren’t wasted trying to figure out how to do that.
3.) Offer multiple service channels: Provide the opportunity to browse FAQs, call, or chat, based on what’s easier for me in the moment.
4.) Make it human: Regardless of how I reach out, give me the option to connect to an actual person. I don’t mind going through automated menus to direct me to the right department, or searching documents to find what I’m looking for, but eventually I want to be able to explain my situation without peppering key words into phrasing.
Every customer, every interaction, and every day is different. Brands have to be over-prepared in order to deliver a five-star experience to customers with varied preferences. It can feel like a big investment, but the returns will be bigger.
In a world where you can get just about anything you can imagine to solve any issue you’re having, products themselves are no longer your only differentiator. Frankly, there are times when the ‘best’ product may lose out to the product with the best service.
Customers want to know that you’ll help troubleshoot, or answer questions as they arise in the lifecycle of your product. I need to know that I’ll be treated like a human, with consideration for my own needs and priorities.
Though you’ll always be evolving and innovating your product offering, if you can provide a top-tier CX, with efficient, human service interactions, you’ll win me for life.
Make customer service the heart of your brand. Get the details here!