Amidst growing competition, one of the main factors which can help a company differentiate itself and retain customers is exceptional customer service. Companies need to adopt innovative methods to enhance the experience of their customers. Businesses need to think different, in order to act different. How can companies provide customer service which is unconventional and out of the box? What can companies do for improved customer satisfaction and loyalty? Here are some ideas to follow:

Human Element

Although technology has made customer service immensely automated, companies must not abandon the role and importance of the human element in customer interactions. NICE Systems, conducted a survey which revealed that 88% of customers prefer to speak with a live representative over dealing with IVR or other self-service technologies. Talking to customers makes them feel important and makes the communication clearer and easier. Some customers find it hard to deal with technologies which leads to them getting annoyed and ultimately poor service. Human element is essential since it offers empathy and compassion. The customer feels he is being heard which makes the entire interaction more personalized. Moreover, long-term relationships can’t be built though automation, hence human interaction is paramount to relationship building. While technology facilitates processes, it cannot replace the essential need for human interaction as each customer has unique problems and questions.

Flexible Return Policy

All leading retail companies have one thing in common: Favorable Return Policy. One of the main reasons for Amazon’s tremendous success and growth is its flexible and accommodating return policy. The company is hailed for providing hassle-free return and exchange. Amazon allows customers to return goods within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. The company also pays return shipping cost if return is a result of their error. A convenient return policy is important to customers, since it is an essential element of customers’ buying decisions.

Multiple Communication Channels

Organizations must invest their energy and effort into establishing multiple communication channels with the aim to offer convenience, more choice and better access to customers. The main purpose of multichannel customer service is to provide customers with options for how they would like to communicate with a company, through their preferred medium of choice. The customer service quality should be maintained across all channels, which entails seamless experience on all fronts. It is also important that all communication channels are well integrated with each other, which will ensure smooth and easy transition if needed. Since customers are dealing with a single company, they expect all channels to be in sync so that they don’t have to start all over again in case of a transaction.

Decentralized Decision Making

Decentralized organizations have an advantage of fast and swift decision making. Customer service staff should be empowered to make decisions when faced with certain situations or issues. They should not have to keep reverting back to managers for every small decision. Decentralization empowers the staff which helps to serve customers better and improve overall customer experience.

Always Offer a Solution

In case of complaints, customers must be dealt with instantly, through quick response and practical solutions. Businesses should also train their staff to think out of the box and come up with ideas and instant solutions to help customers.

Always offer a solution even if it is temporary one so the customer doesn’t feel disappointed with the product or service. For example, if a customer cannot use their login to use a service or a website account, they can be offered a temporary account, which serves the purpose till the technical team fixes the error.

The same holds true for product based companies, for example a customer might feel agitated when their gadget isn’t functioning for them. Offer them support by listening to their problems carefully, and offering instant solutions, like a phone to use till their phone is fixed etc. The list is endless when it comes to accommodating the customer and making him or her happy.

Working on such strategies, will pay back in the long run, generating loyal and satisfied customers, who will see your business as the most accommodating and reliable in the market.