We all know that good customer service is important if you want to create a successful business. Research by Vonage revealed that the consequences of poor customer service costs U.S. businesses up to $62 billion each year, a staggering amount. With 96% of consumers globally saying that customer service is a factor in their choice of brand loyalty, the impact of prioritising your customer service function can’t be ignored. Below, we take a look at five ways to improve your customer service.

1. Map out your customer journey

When creating a new or updated customer service strategy, it’s important to start by understanding the journey that your customers take. Based on their touchpoints with your business, create a chronological map that covers the journey from new customer to the stage in which they either leave or renew.

These insights will not only help you empathise with your customer, but they will also allow you to identify any trends or recurrent gaps in the journey; for example, do customers tend to leave at the six-week mark, and if so, why? Do 60% of your customers ask the same question once they become a customer? The answers to these questions will allow you to predict customer behaviour and prioritise adjustments to your current strategy such as making your live chat available 24/7, creating a self-service knowledge base or making product instructions clearer on the packaging.

2. Create feedback loops

The great thing about feedback loops is that they can work both externally using client feedback, and internally for your customer service team. However, they are only effective if the results of the feedback are reviewed and implemented, so it’s important to monitor all feedback received and to use the analysis gained to help make decisions.

Externally, gathering regular feedback from clients can help you to identify any one-off or reoccurring issues with your current customer service process, and to make adjustments as needed to rectify these or make the process simpler. A simple way to gather feedback from customers includes sending out customer surveys, and you can learn more about surveys here. Surveys questions can range from star ratings to NPS scores and individual agent feedback, so be sure to track and measure the responses to understand the trends and to define any areas for improvement.

Internally, feedback loops can help encourage your team and drive customer service successes. Drive collaboration by encouraging teams to work together to find solutions – keep coordination clear between departments, and drive a customer-centric culture (more on this below) by making all business functions accountable for the customer experience.

3. Create a customer-centric culture

One of the most impactful ways of improving the customer service delivered is by creating a customer-centric culture within your business. This doesn’t always mean a ‘the customer is always right’ approach, but it does mean that your employees should put the customer first and try to lead with a problem-solving attitude. Some ways to build and ensure a customer-centric culture include:

  • Hire solution-focused and empathic employees

  • Make customer insights accessible to all teams

  • Set and measuring customer-centric goals, KPIs and SLAs

  • Create alignment with company-wide incentives or bonuses

  • Define and drive customer-centric values

Beyond the customer service and customer-facing teams, driving a customer-centric culture needs to come consistently from the top, and needs to be applicable to all departments in order to create a company-wide culture.

4. Be where your customers are

Customer and client expectations are ever-evolving, with more and more companies now leading with an ‘always on’ approach to customer service.

Research has shown that millennials, in particular, now expect fast and accessible customer service, with 25% expecting a response within 10 minutes to social media enquiries, and that 65% of 25- to 34-year-olds say that quick responses drastically improve their customer experience.

Going back to your customer journey mapping, think about the different platforms and channels that your customers expect you to be available on, implement this and be sure to deliver a consistent experience, whether they’re speaking to you on the phone, via live chat or through social media.

5. Make it personal

In practical terms, some quick-wins for improving your customer service and communications involve making them personal. Consider segmenting your audience to create more relevant communications, use purchase histories to suggest complementary products and reward your loyal customers wherever possible. Not only does this keep your customers engaged, but it also shows that you have an understanding of the customers wants and needs, improving their service.

To conclude, by understanding the customer journey, gathering feedback and driving a customer-centric culture, you can significantly improve your current customer service strategy.