Providing good customer service isn’t just a thing to say, like “Service with a smile” or “Smiles are free.” It’s about connecting with your customers, whether they are a consumer in the general public or another business needing your products or services. While price is important, it is not the main driving force for many when they look for who to do business with.
Connection in Customer Service
We live in an age where technology has allowed us to remain more connected than ever before. Almost anywhere we go, we can text, email, phone, or video call friends and family. Despite this, research has revealed that many of us are reporting that we feel more disconnected than ever. Psychologists are encountering a growing number of people who feel alone, unheard, and vulnerable.
As one might expect, the events of the last few years have contributed massively to this feeling. People became isolated as they were forced apart and many turned to online sources to obtain the items they needed when they were unable to venture out to stores.
As life returned to normal, it was interesting to see that many consumers started turning to local businesses. They shopped at stores in their neighbourhood, connecting with small business owners and their employees.
You may be wondering how this relates to customer service, but this is an indicator of just how important customer service is right now. Customers who bring their business to you are looking for more than just another transaction. They want to chat, smile, and know they are being heard. In short, they want to feel that human connection that they have been missing.
How do you connect with your customers? More than anything else, you must find the commonality between you and them. What experiences, likes, and interests do you share? What can bring you together?
When a customer feels a connection with you, they will go out of their way to do business with you. This is what will set you apart from competitors who may offer the same services but not the same service. Value is what lies at the heart of customer service. Providing your customers with a great product will make them happy, but providing world-class service that makes them feel appreciated will be what leaves a lasting impression and brings them back to you time and again.
Advertising and great prices might attract customers, but forming a bond with them is what creates loyalty. Providing excellent service can be one of the simplest ways to increase revenue. It is also one of the cheapest because it really costs very little to treat people the way they want to be treated.
Doing Business with Other Businesses
So how does the customer relationship for businesses selling to businesses work then? Many businesses are feeling the crunch in our current market environment. Times are tougher than they have been in previous years and it seems that doing more with less is the norm. So, how do you stay ahead of the game when your client is a business that is making use of your services? What happens when they are cutting back on their expenses and one of the cost centres they might eliminate or reduce is for the service you provide?
Although it can be intimidating and even a bit uncomfortable, a direct conversation is the answer. Remember that while the how of customer service is based on the building of a strong relationship, the what of customer service is helping the client meet their needs. They come to you because you offer something they need. You are their partner in reaching their goals, whether it is a short-term goal such as obtaining a product or service, or something longer term like building strategies to help their business grow.
As your client’s partner, your job is to help them find solutions. If they are struggling, they need to know that you are there for them and can help them get through the rough patches. Show them that moving away from those who can offer them support and guidance isn’t their best strategy.
- Discuss events with your client. Start with high-level, open-ended questions and demonstrate that you are truly hearing and understanding them.
- Acknowledge their concerns and really drill down to the main issues at play.
- Be empathic, but stay calm even when a crisis seems to be looming.
- Match your energy to theirs and let them be the one to guide the flow of your conversation, but once you have heard and understood their concerns, be bold with your response and confident in your ability to resolve everything to their satisfaction.
You know your client, but if you are serving a business, you must be sure to know that industry as well. Do your research so that you can have the necessary insight to help them tackle their problems. Knowing the unique aspects of their industry will allow you to be more insightful into their challenges, empathetic to their needs, and able to give more thoughtful support.
Depending on the type of business you offer, you might consider strategizing with them to help them reach their objectives step-by-step, with 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals. Commit to regular monthly reports to keep them informed of the progress you are making together. Customer service is about….the customer, so your focus is on what they need and what they want. Keep your focus on those things and not on what you want to sell them.
For example, a digital marketing agency may know all about optimizing images and all the technical aspects of their work, but their client won’t want to hear about that. What will be important to them is actual sales and a visible boost in revenue, so it’s up to the digital marketing agency to ensure that the client understands what is being done even if they don’t necessarily understand the process behind it.
For example, at Marwick Marketing, when we first onboard a client we invest heavily in the early stages of developing the overarching strategy with goals and objectives to ensure everyone is on the same page. We then provide a 30-60-90 day plan so the client knows exactly what they can expect from their team. As the relationship grows, we provide that level of customer service we’ve been talking about by making every single team member available to them whenever they need, not something most agencies do. We also take the time each month to review results with the client on monthly update calls, in addition to the client receiving their monthly report. This is what results in value for our clients.
Value is at the heart of customer service, so you want the client to feel valued and to also see the value that your relationship brings. This is especially true with new customers because providing that value early and then consistently is what they will be looking for.
Short term goals should start providing that value and lay the foundation for longer-term and more significant goals in the future, keeping you both invested and working together.
Ultimately, providing the absolute best customer service possible should always be your goal.