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8 Ways to Go Beyond Customer Service

Bill Wichert

Customer Service is a basic structure for supporting your customers. When treated badly, it is simply a job to be done. Great companies look beyond customer service and build support structures that drive enhanced customer satisfaction. They provide such great support that their customers truly love them. The following are ways you can go above and beyond basic customer service and head towards delighted partners in a business experience.

Define Your Customer's Expectations

Great customer service starts with defining customers' expectations so that you can support them effectively. You need to define what your customer base expects when it comes to your products or services. This should include, but not be limited to the speed of delivery, price of products, warranty offerings, additional services, and many others.  Expectations should be clear on both sides, so you know what you need to supply to provide an excellent customer experience. Having a clear understanding of what your customers are asking for will give you the foundation for achieving top customer satisfaction.

Identify Customer Needs

Customer needs are the result of successful use of your product or service.  Defining those needs are what enables businesses to support customers that are always looking for new solutions. High performing businesses understand their customers' needs and plan around them. With the right kind of planning, companies are able to provide the right support that meets the customer's needs. When customers ask a question, it's your job to be helpful. When customers ask how to do something or how to do it right, it's your job to do it right.

Design Your Support Structure

Before you implement any of these ideas, you need to know what structure your organization needs to provide great customer service. There are a lot of different ways to do it, so you need to figure out which structure is best for you.  Depending upon your type of business and your target market, you may have different support structures to drive satisfaction.  These should include direct customer support, work order management, billing services, training and education, and product development.  These services will create the baseline for supporting your customers and developing world class customer satisfaction.

Monitor Your Service Levels

The best way to show your customers that you care is by monitoring and enhancing customer satisfaction. That means measuring the right things. For instance, while customer service managers might measure numbers of ticket inquiries, software vendors might use more precise statistics like customer retention rates. To keep improving your customer satisfaction, set standards and goals. Establish values so that you always have the right things to work toward. Determine how satisfied your customers should be and work with them to ensure these standards are always true. For instance, low response rates are a significant indication that your customer support is far from stellar.  Ensure that your service levels are always exceeding what your customer expects and they will continue to be satisfied.

Create a Service Continuity Plan

When you depend on a single service for your needs, you have a major task ahead of you. You need to document everything that has happened and what needs to happen going forward. Make sure that the necessary staff are aware of this plan so that nothing is overlooked. With a service continuity plan in place, you can ensure that customers receive the best service possible.  Review your processes so you can save a lot of time and effort. If you have been performing a particular task on a regular basis, review that process before starting a new one. This can also help you to spot potential weaknesses in your procedures and support you with the training required to avoid them. You need to make sure that your procedures are up to date with the latest technology.

Use the Right Technology

With the right technology in place, you can stay in close contact with your customers at any time and place. Collect feedback from customers, check into their online and offline experiences, and quickly respond to customer issues and questions in order to exceed customer expectations. The right technology tools allow you to gather feedback and get real-time customer service responses. These customer relationships are a huge part of your business. Being a good friend to your customers is great, but as your customers and prospects grow, you must take the relationship to the next level and reach out with a lot of great customer service. Invest in customer service training for your employees to improve the performance of your customer service team.

Use the Right Process

Customer satisfaction has many forms. The customer support process should be the foundation of the organization. It should drive customer success, rather than merely product offerings. Customer satisfaction starts with the customer service process. The three levels of process are: 1) Completion, 2) Suggestions, and 3) Complaints. Completion is all about creating a positive customer experience. Customer should be delighted with the journey from inquiry to the satisfaction of providing a solution. With suggestion, you can keep that story going with endless options that can make life easier. Customer should have the ability to get the very best from the customer support experience. Then you have the complaints process.  These processes should take complaint and problem resolution very seriously.  Focus on expedited handling of these critical issues and they may win back a customer who was considering a change.

Use the Right Communication

As of late, we’ve seen an explosion of online customer support forums that are connected to your organization. These types of forums are great for getting instant answers and information on your customers’ problems, but forums are not the best place for having an emotional, supportive conversation. Being able to solve customer’s problems and boost their satisfaction is a connection that is more permanent and lasting. Communication is a powerful tool for any business that can build a lasting, positive relationship with your customers.

Use the Right Metrics

Consider your customers’ experiences and how it compares to the experiences of other customers. Try to use customer service metrics that show how you are doing compared to your competition and other companies. There are great metrics that prove exactly how you are doing. Use the right ones to enhance customer satisfaction. Be Proactive and inform customers that something is wrong and will remedy the situation as soon as possible. Provide some type of solution and follow up to make sure you did not miss anything. Customers will always try to find fault with your product. It is your job to make it right and give them a positive experience. Have real relationships with your customers based upon the right metrics.

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