Imagine you’ve just invented a new product series and launched your business with startup money you raised from a venture capitalist. You have an amazing, tested product that you know the public wants. You’ve already set up high-quality manufacturing and distribution, and your main office and e-commerce site are open and ready to operate. Your staff is hired and ready to dive in.
From the consumer point of view, your product is so incredible that people should immediately understand how to use it, right? And its design and materials are so sound that the product should function just fine. Plus, you’ve done your homework to hire the best manufacturing and supply chain partners, and you trust them.
Well, something can go wrong any step of the way, and usually, it does. And even when things aren’t going awry, end-users of your product will still need support and information.
That’s all to say that a good customer service team is an essential part of your organization.
Your target customer, even if they are knowledgeable about your type of product, still needs detailed information about how your specific product works. They may need help installing it, putting it together, and understanding how to use it. Or perhaps they are ready to buy the next product series and want to know which parts they can use from the old model, and how to adapt old with new parts.
Product manuals are very useful reference tools, but they don’t tell the whole story, and they can’t replace a phone call, an in-person consultation, or even an online chat with a human being to answer questions and activate a product or service. People’s time is valuable, and if calling up a service representative cuts the orientation period in half for the customer, they will appreciate being able to use that precious time for something else.
It’s impossible to plan for everything. Products have glitches, installation guides might not be clearly written for every audience, people break things, and paperwork gets lost. We all need help sometimes, and a knowledgeable customer service team can make the difference between keeping and losing a customer.
Organizations with bad or non-existent customer service quickly lose customers and may go out of business because they aren’t able to sustain a loyal base. When troubleshooting is needed and a customer doesn’t get the right help, they will become frustrated and return the item, or make a note to avoid buying something from that company in the future.
It’s not enough to just hire someone and have them talking to customers the very next day. Deep training is essential so associates can answer any question. And if they don’t know the answer, they should know where to go to get the right information.
New associates should shadow more experienced employees and develop a skilled understanding of your products, your company’s culture, and why the business is or should be valued by consumers. Only then should they start working with actual customers.
Your customer service team should also be adept at soft skills like good listening, problem-solving, and diplomacy.
Good customer service is also indirect. A well-designed website, clearly stated hours of operation, and contact information all provide a form of service that benefits the customer and provides more tools for them to understand and use your business.
The human touch
Skilled, friendly, and empathetic customer service associates serve as ambassadors for your company. They are the public face of your product and business. They often give customers an initial impression of your operation, good or bad, and they can also change people’s minds for the better.
In today’s fast-paced, digital world, consumers appreciate the human touch, even if it’s in the form of a live agent in a chat window, or a voice coming from a call center in Africa. An investment in good customer service shows that the business cares about its customers and invests in its products. And that commitment makes all the difference between a successful, lasting business, and one that eventually falters.
Companies with excellent service also develop a reputation for standing by their customers, and that reputation spreads. Good reviews lead to repeat purchases, new customers, and increasing profits over time.
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