4 Tips for Establishing Customer Rapport

Building long-lasting client relationships is necessary for creating trust and customer loyalty. By developing a strong rapport with your customers you can expect them to keep returning to you for buying products. Taking care of customer needs and giving preference to what they want will help strengthen trust. What are the fundamental factors for building stronger customer relationships? Here are four simple tips that will help your organization in building better rapport with your customers.

Initiate the Conversation

Be the first to start a conversation with customers so that they feel comfortable and at ease. This is particularly crucial when potential clients call or visit you for the first time. Also, some customers might appear to be reluctant or detached especially if they have never done business with you before. In this case, warmly greet customers, ask them about their well-being and if there is anything you can assist them with. Personalize the conversation by politely asking customers for their names which you can then use to address them throughout the interaction.

Also, use the right words when communicating with clients as this will create the right impression. Your selection of words is fundamental when talking to customers. By initiating conversations and saying the right things, you can attend to customers effectively and convey to them that your business genuinely cares about them.

Active Listening

Listen attentively and with patience when customers ask you questions or communicate with you in general. This enables you to gain valuable knowledge about customer demands and preferences. This information is useful for identifying what truly matters to customers and will help you build better rapport with them. Clients also feel valued when you show that you pay attention to what they are saying, especially if they need you to manage urgent matters or clarify their concerns. Simple gestures like slightly nodding, asking questions for clarification, summarizing what clients have discussed with you and assuring them that you understand goes a long way in showing customers that you are listening. Establishing rapport by attentively listening to customers even in circumstances when they are angry, upset or annoyed conveys your sincerity and helps build trust.

Always Offer Solutions to Customers

While businesses strive to focus on customer satisfaction, there might be situations when customers are unhappy or disappointed. In such scenarios, listening to customers and attending to their needs by offering them alternatives and solutions will help in gaining trust. Similarly, being flexible in your policies and compensating customers is necessary to help build stronger relationships with your customers. For example, offering a full refund on a product that a customer isn’t happy with or giving them the option to exchange it with a different product are important steps for showing them that your company values their business. Therefore, always offer a solution to your customers and follow up with them later on to see if they are happy or not.

Give Priority to Customers

Put your clients ahead of everything else at all times, given that they are the reason why a business exists. While every business strives to increase profits, giving priority to customer needs and preferences eventually leads to more sales. Happier customers are more motivated to make a purchase decision and return to a company that offered them great customer experience. For instance, if a customer is confused about what product to buy, a customer service representative should help by offering product comparisons, list benefits and drawbacks of both products and give an honest opinion to the client. This will make customers feel that your business genuinely puts in effort to help them out and gives them top priority.

In order to build stronger ties with your customers, always fulfill the promises and commitments you make. Stay connected with them on social media and other channels to show that your organization is interested in maintaining a relationship with them even when they are not doing business with you. Make sure to establish rapport with clients at every customer touch point as this enables you to create positive experiences for clients, get valuable feedback and generate more revenue.

How to Maintain Excellent Customer Service in a Rapidly Growing Company

Customers often experience deteriorating customer service standards when dealing with companies that are rapidly growing or expanding. This can be due to a number of factors such as lack of resources to meet customer needs and not having solid customer support processes in place. What businesses don’t realize is that customers are more likely to leave a company based on poor customer experience. Falling customer service standards also impede a company’s ability to win loyal customers who are responsible for further growth of your business.

Optimizing Resources

During times of rapid growth, it is equally important to increase the number of resources available for customer service. It should be ensured that customer service budgets are increased proportionately, given the level of growth the company is experiencing. There should be enough customer care personnel to handle the increased traffic on various communication channels. This would require the business to recruit and train additional customer service representatives, in addition to streamlining the customer service protocols to allow for seamless and effective experience for customers. The business also might need to bring in customer service experts and develop a comprehensive customer service strategy.

Creating a Customer-Centric Culture

A coherent customer service strategy, that is well-integrated into all functional departments of a business, will help educate the workforce about the importance of creating a customer-centric culture. There should be consistency in terms of company’s vision when it comes to customer service. A customer-centric approach should be developed and encouraged throughout the organization. Management should ensure that all departments of the business are in sync with their efforts to provide excellent customer service.

Constantly Monitor Customer Feedback

Rapidly growing businesses often lose track of their customer service performance. This is why it is significant to periodically review, monitor and report the company’s customer service performance. Metrics should be developed to gauge customer satisfaction levels that will present a clear picture as to how well the company has managed to maintain the standard. Monitoring and analyzing data pertaining to customer service would require the company to seek feedback from customers on a regular basis in the form of ratings and satisfaction levels. All the collected data will enable thorough analysis and help identify reasons for any discrepancies from the set standards.

Corrective Action

Effective monitoring will give way to effective control and corrective actions. Once it has been determined that customers are experiencing falling service standards, managers should move to find out what areas need to improve and remove discrepancies in the system. Corrective action may include hiring more customer service representatives and offering more interactive channels for customer support such as assistance on social media or live chat on the company’s website. Customers could be asked to suggest ways to meet their needs in a more effective manner, in addition to hiring customer service experts who could help the business identify loopholes. Businesses should aim to adhere to customer service standards prior to the growth phase, which would act as a benchmark.

Adding a Personal Touch

Never ignore the importance of personal touch in the delivery of products and service no matter what the size of your business is and how much it has grown. Management should ensure that the element of personal touch continues to be an integral part of the company’s persona. Personal touch wins companies loyal customers who are invaluable to growth. Moreover, personal touch enables companies to acquire honest feedback, which is needed for improving product design and service delivery. Make sure to provide a unique experience to every customer that your company is selling to. While business growth often leads to automation and technology driven solutions, the necessary personalized human element must always be incorporated to connect better with your clients and effectively meet their customer support needs.

5 Ways to Create a Customer Oriented Business Culture

For any business the secret to success lies in making customers the top priority. Creating a customer oriented business culture significantly helps brands with customer retention and loyalty. A customer focused approach involves understanding the needs and expectations of customers with the goal to serve them in the best possible manner. Implementing a strategy that focuses on making customers happy and contented by utilizing all resources and efforts can win you brand advocates. Therefore, if you want your business to succeed and stand out among your competitors devise a customer centric strategy. Define your customer service goals and evaluate your performance regularly to know if you are moving in the right direction. Here are five tips to make your business culture truly customer oriented!

Define Customer Value Proposition

Defining a customer value proposition would help you in coming up with an effective strategy for customer loyalty. Creating a customer value proposition makes it easier for businesses to come up with a list of benefits that a customer would be offered in return for his/her loyalty. Making your customers feel valued should be the top most priority of a business. Thus, the first step towards creating a customer focused business is to concentrate efforts towards retaining customers. Based on your budget you can define your CVP, offering your regular customers loyalty cards and gifts.

Set Your Customer Service Goals and Keep a Track of Them

In order to create a customer oriented business culture set your service goals and develop an evaluation system to keep a track of your performance. Many businesses claim to offer exemplary customer service but fail because there are no set goals. Therefore, in order to ensure your business is committed towards customer service you need to define what you endeavor to offer. For instance, if you are running a restaurant, set your goals for quality customer service like maximum delivery time 30 minutes, complimentary drinks for all guests and remembering the preferences of your regular customers. Conduct weekly staff meetings to see if you are meeting your objectives or not.

Make Customer Service Training Mandatory for All Departments

All customer focused companies stress on training all their employees for offering great service. The notion that only frontline staff should be well-acquainted with the do’s and dont’s of customer service is wrong. If you want to promote a customer centric culture, all your employees should be trained to understand customers’ needs, how to deal with customer complaints and being proactive in customer support. Design a customer service manual for your staff and list down all the essentials they need to learn in order to offer customers a delightful experience.

Hire Friendly, Emotionally Sensitive and Smart CSRs

Another vital factor for creating a customer oriented culture is to hire friendly, emotionally sensitive and smart CSRs. Look out for people who are empathetic, possess good communication skills and are good at handling difficult situations. Build a team of emotionally intelligent people who can improvise to set things right for customers. For a customer centric culture, it is imperative to have CSRs on board who have team spirit, are enthusiastic about serving customers and have great listening and verbal skills. CSRs who have the right kind of attitude can help you grow your business.

Give Value to Customers’ Opinions and Suggestions

Listening and giving value to your customers’ opinions is essential for serving them the way they want. Value every customer’s opinion and make him/her feel part of the business. An important step towards creating a customer focused business culture is to know what customers want. Therefore, collect feedback from your customers on modifying the service and experience according to their suggestions. Start off with most recurrent opinions and try to implement them in minimal time. Another advantage of listening to your customers’ suggestions is that you learn about the flaws in your product/service from customers. This is important for creating and executing a customer centric strategy.

How to Win Back Disgruntled Customers?

Customer service representatives often find themselves in situations where they have to deal with disgruntled customers. It is quite inevitable that some customers might not be happy with the service or might feel that they have been treated poorly, since it is almost impossible to please every single customer who walks into a store or logs on to an online retail store. CSRs must be equipped to diffuse an escalated situation through dialogue and effectively solve problems.

Instead of avoiding or refusing service to angry customers, such situations should be used to learn more because angry customers can provide invaluable insight about the service/products, since they won’t hold back and will be brutally honest. CSRs should not only resolve the problem, but should aim for winning them back for future purchases too. Some of the ways through which businesses can win back disgruntled customers are as follows:

Proactive Communication

The first step to resolve any confusion or misunderstanding is effective communication. Disgruntled customers should be proactively approached to get their side of the story. CSRs must be tactful while interacting with an angry customer, so that the situation does not escalate any further. CSRs must remember not to take anything personally, since the customer is angry with the service/product and not the personnel working at the company. Customers should be allowed to vent, and CSRs should possess good listening skills to fully understand the issue, which will enable effective resolution. At the same time, CSRs should be able to fully empathize with the customer regarding the issue he/she is facing. Always remember that an indifferent attitude will further aggravate the situation. For example, customers calling an internet service provider to complain about poor service shouldn’t be greeted with statements such as, “Everybody is facing slow browsing, you’d just have to wait” or “There must be something wrong with your computer”.

Investigating Why Customers Left

If a customer feels unsatisfied with the products or service, it should be a priority for customer service representatives to investigate why the problem occurred. The investigation should start with interviewing the disgruntled customer and finding out the reason for the lapse in service. It should be determined which staff members were responsible for the mix-up or negligence. This will not only allow CSRs to effectively address the issue, but it will also provide valuable lessons for the future.

Secondly, the company representatives should also admit their mistake if the investigation reveals that the company was at fault. For example, If a customer is shipped the wrong product, it is important for the company to send out an apology letter, admitting the shipping mistake.

Making It Right

After the investigation has been carried out, companies should devise a way to correct the error and resolve the customer’s grievances. For example, if the customer has been overbilled at the retail shop, it is essential that it is fully explained how that might have happened. The overbilled amount should be refunded immediately and a sincere apology should be offered. Admitting mistake and rectifying the error is likely to calm down the customer, and even appreciate the swift corrective action. If these issues are resolved on an urgent basis, the customer might even come to appreciate the level of diligence and customer support. Whatever solution the company ends up offering should be implemented with the consent of the customer. In fact, the customer should be asked as to how the company can make it right, hence the situation should be dealt in such a manner that it pleases the customer.

Compensating for Inconvenience

Customers should be fairly compensated for all the trouble they might have had to go through, especially if it was caused by company negligence. There are several ways to compensate customers including free gifts, store credit and free loyalty card membership. If the compensation encourages customers to maintain their connection with the company, it is likely to dissipate the tension and would help CSRs win back disgruntled customers. For example, if a customer is compensated in form of store credit for a faulty product, he/she would have to come back in order to use the gifted store credit, which presents another opportunity for CSRs to win them over with better and improved service.

Staying in Touch With Customers for Periodic Feedback

After the issue has been resolved, and the disgruntled customer fairly compensated for the inconvenience, the CSRs should reach out and seek feedback regarding the service. This activity will provide an opportunity to the company to stay in touch and gain insights regarding products and service. Customers in such situations will give honest feedback with the overall experience, and he/she might even suggest ways to avoid the lapse in service in the future.

Customer Service Lessons from Leading Entrepreneurs

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has built around 400 companies in different industries while simultaneously establishing the gold standard for customer service throughout his career. One of the core values at Microsoft, the revolutionary company co-founded by Bill Gates, is to have ‘’passion for customers’’. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. continuously advocated for customer service excellence at Apple, making the company one of the very best at providing customer support.

Entrepreneurs such as Bransonand Gates breathe customer service because they believe in the power of the people. They believe in people-to-people contact and in empowering those people to prioritize customer service as a means to garner value for the company.

Here is a list of the actions needed to enable businesses to focus on customer service and experience.

Hire People with the Right Attitude

Every company should be selective when it comes to hiring the right people for a specific task. Hire friendly, positive, and optimistic people who see the glass as half full and are ready to go the extra mile to serve customers. Successful entrepreneurs hire people with a zest for life, a can-do attitude, leadership potential, and above all, an inherent need to better serve customers. Customer service is always a top priority.

Empower Your Employees

Once you hire the right people and give them the best training, empower them to effectively solve problems by being creative, original, and thinking outside the box. When people know that they are completely in control of their tasks and activities, and that they will be rewarded for great work, they will give their utmost and go above-and-beyond to perform better at their job. Empowered employees tend to take the lead, face the challenges, and relish the chance to make the impossible, possible!

Treat Employees as Company Assets

Your employees are your greatest assets. Successful entrepreneurs treat their employees exactly as assets. Employee productivity relies on how they are treated by their seniors and if they are properly rewarded for their hard work, they are encouraged to perform even better and help customers.

Foster Commitment to Serve Customers

If every employee is trained to make customer service a priority, it will undoubtedly become the most valued service at your organization. When employees treat customers with an aim to provide the most memorable experience for them, customers want to return to the company. Organizations which proactively focus on customer experience, tend to make loyal customers.

Don’t forget to have fun!

The secret to delivering great customer service is not just in the commitment to deliver memorable customer experience, it’s in having fun while you’re at it. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates make it a point to laugh and have a good time while interacting with employees. They encourage hard work along with having a good time. This is the main reason why the hiring process at companies such as Microsoft is highly stringent. They look for competent people who are ready to take on any challenge, and enjoy that challenge along the way.

In a nutshell, great companies are built by people with a vision. A vision that stays with them throughout their lives and is reverberated through their companies. These entrepreneurs have taught us the significant power of the people, and how the main focus should be on providing memorable customer experiences; and actually build companies around service excellence.