Forty-eight percent of people who had negative experiences with a company told 10+ people about it, and only twenty-three percent of customers who had a positive experience told 10+ people about it. How many satisfied and unsatisfied customers does your business have? How can we measure customer satisfaction?
When we talk about customer satisfaction, we think of the following measurements:
- Perceived quality
- Attributional satisfaction
- Intention to repurchase
Perceived quality is the overall experience with your company. Loyalty is readiness to recommend your company to a friend. Attributional satisfaction is satisfaction with a part of your business, for example, your location or new interior design. Intention to repurchase shows if you customers want to buy your products on a regular basis, or if they are ready to renew their subscription when it ends.
While you need to ask different questions to measure different types of satisfaction, the following methods may suit for all of them.
1. Examine recent correspondence customers have sent and your live chat archive. See if your customers use a lot of emotive words, whether they are positive or negative. Pay attention at the cases when your customers mention that they are still waiting for a response, or when they contact you via chat because there is no answer via email.
2. Use feedback tools of your help desk and live chat software. Ask your customers to rate your service according to a 5-star system or a 10-point scale. HelpOnClick help desk and live chat software have a 5-star rating system, which allows you to measure customer satisfaction.
3. Conduct a survey. You can create a web-based survey and invite your customers to participate via email. A simple questionnaire can be created via Google forms for free. Make the questionnaire short and clear to attract more respondents.
4. Call random customers and ask them what they think about your products and your company. Or follow up on a recent call and find out if your customers were happy with the service.
5. Monitor social media and review websites. See if you get positive or negative reviews, get in touch with the customers who review your products.
It is important to measure your success, because it is the only way to see if your service gets better. The above methods are very simple and cheap, they are available for every business. No matter how big or small your business is, measuring customer satisfaction is a must for you.
Small companies often provide better customer service than big companies. This sounds ridiculous, because big companies have more resources to provide better service. But it turns out that a big budget does not mean good service at all.
Why big companies provide worse customer service? The main reason is customer service staff. Owners of small businesses often serve customers themselves. They are the most passionate and motivated people in business. They understand the importance of every interaction with customers. They are eager to help customers and win their loyalty. Business owners are the perfect people for customer service, because they understand the importance of great customer service, they know everything about their business, and they are empowered to make any decision on behalf of their customers.
We can see a similar situation in small teams. When a team is dedicated to their business, the can provide the same level of customer service as business owners do.
The problems start when a business grows. Business owners in big companies are unable to work in customer service, and the members of small teams take their places in management teams. They have to hire people who do not know ins and outs of their business and in most cases they are not fully dedicated to their job. The new customer service team is limited in decision making and often lacks proper training.
A real disaster and downgrade in customer service level happens when companies outsource customer service. An outsourcing company can only act according to provided scripts. Their help is similar to assistance of a Virtual Agent, but several times more expensive. Have you ever contacted a service team of a big company, and they could not provide any information beyond the text from their website? This is really annoying because normally you contact support team to get more information, but they are unable to help you, because the company’s website is their only source of information.
Of course, many companies succeed in expanding their support team. When your company grows, you need to realize, that your service should play by different rules. You need to reconsider you support policies, motivation and training programs, communication processes and success metrics. This may sound too complicated to a small business owner, but this is the only way to continue delivering great customer service when your company grows.
Customer service standards determine service quality. But only people can make any system work. Only a well-trained and motivated customer service team can deliver superior customer service. It is not easy to find the right people, but if you know what to look for, your plan may come true.
An ideal service guru should have the following skills:
1. Thick skin
Everyone knows that customer service job is stressful, even if you work for the best company in the world. If a member of a support team is too emotional, he will break down sooner or later, and that does not work for good customer service.
2. Clear communication skills
Customer service is all about communication. In the most cases, customers do not choose the best product in the world, but they choose a company where they feel comfortable, where they can easily get on with the staff and get answers to all their questions.
3. Persuasion skills
The majority of prospects compare several products before making a purchase. The aim of your customers service representatives is to make customers interested in your products and dispel clients’ doubts.
4. Ability to “read” customers
What is said is not always what is meant. Sometimes non-verbal signs say more than words, and can explain a situation better. This skill is the most useful in offline communication, but sometimes it is even possible to read between the lines.
5. Ability to use “positive language”
Customers do not want to hear about problems, difficult situations and out-of-stock products. They want to hear about your solution, challenging experience and new arrivals. Customers describe your company in the words you do.
6. Goal oriented focus
Communication in customer service is not a mere chit-chat. Every interaction should be focused at solving customers’ issues. Ability to reach goals is important for those employees who want to be good at customer service.
7. Closing ability
Many deals fail only because of inability of a customer service representative to close a deal. Without this skill, all other skills become almost useless, because customers won’t buy even if your rep is a great person with good communication skills. They will be happy to talk and then buy in another place.
8. Work ethic
Working with people requires ethic. Companies may set up their own standards, but basic standards are essential for everyone.
9. Willingness to help
Those who do not like helping people, cannot succeed in customer service. Great customer service can only be provided by people who is ready to go an extra mile to help others.
10. Willingness to learn
Willingness to learn is a key success factor in any profession, including customer service. Effective team is a well-trained team. Your customer service people may lack many of the above skills when you hire them, but if they really want to learn, they may become your best employees.
If customer service is your job, and you want to succeed in it, this article is for you. Wether you have large experience or you are new at customer service, it is never late to improve your skills.
Learn to listen to your customers.
Only great listeners can become great at customer service. Learn how to listen actively, ask questions and summarize the answers. Show genuine interest and willingness to help.
Know your product.
Deep knowledge of your product is important. No matter if you sell used furniture or a complicated software, you must be an expert in it. If you are not able to explain customers how your product works, you will not sell it. If you are not able to understand what kind of issues your customers experience with your product, you will not be able to help them, and you may lose them. Ask yourself “Am I able to answer all possible questions about my products?” If not, start learning the answers right now!
Customer service is a very stressful job if you are not able to manage your emotions. You may find some useful advice in our post “How to keep calm at work”. To be good at customer service, you should learn how to stay cool under pressure, and also how to calm down a customer (See our post “How to calm an angry customer”). Sometimes customers think that the world is falling down due to their current problem, and it is your job to stop their panic and continue with a positive and meaningful dialog.
Admit that you may need help.
When you learn how to work under pressure and how to listen to customers, and you know your products pretty well, the situation still may run out of control. When you ask someone for help, it does not mean that you show your weakness. It means that you are doing your best to help your customers. You need to know who, when and how you may ask for help, if any extraordinary situations happen. Work out a “Plan B” if there is no one to help.
Be ready to go an extra mile.
Good customer service is when you match customers’ expectations. WOW customer service is when you exceed them. If you are able to do more than your customers expect, and you do that with enthusiasm and willingness to make your customers happy, you have a great future in customer service.
Big companies spend a fortune on numerous researches to learn who their customers are. With the HelpOnClick live chat even small companies may learn more about their website visitors, with no extra cost.
We have released a new feature, an integration with the FullContact software. From now on, when you start a chat with your website visitors, the system searches the web for the information about them. The search is based on the provided email address. Once any information is found, you may see your visitor’s picture, full name, related websites, and their social profiles. (Note: if the customers’ emails are not used for any social registrations, you may not see any additional information about them.)
It is really a great feature because now you are able to make a portrait of your current and potential customers absolutely for free! Why is it important to create a portrait of your client? It is vital to know your customers, their age, gender, education, occupation, interests, family relations, etc. With this information you are able to focus your propositions on those aspects that are important to your customers. Now you do not have to guess, you may know exactly what they like.
How can you learn this information? Our FullContact feature shows your customers’ profiles and related websites. Social profiles are now one of the best and the cheapest source of information about people. Once you get the list of social profiles of your customers, you may learn about them a lot. It is useful that this information is not only available during a chat, but also it gets saved in the archive. You may browse the chat archive anytime, and see who your current and potential customers are, what they are interested in, and much more.
A portrait of a client is the main point of any marketing program. Without it, it is impossible to work out an effective proposition. With the HelpOnClick live chat you may learn about your customers effortless and without extra costs.
Log in to your account now to see how it works.
Following rules is one of the most difficult part of life and of business. Some rules should be followed day after day, for many years, for as long as a company lives. But these rules finally bring companies to success.
Some rules are not obligatory, but when we speak about the Golden rules, you cannot afford ignoring them. In customers service there are core rules, that sound simple, but in real life they are very hard to follow. Those who manage to provide customer service by following these rules, stand out from their competitors.
1. Customer service is everyone’s job.
Every contact with your clients is important. Customers do not make the difference between the staff who is supposed to help them and who is not. They expect responsiveness and support from everyone in your company.
2. Ask questions and listen to the answers.
The less questions you ask, the more chances are that you misunderstand your customers. Last week I called a bank to solve a small problem, and they switched me to the wrong assistants three times in a row, because they thought they understood what I was telling them. But they were absolutely wrong. They did not even try to ask questions and identify the problem correctly. As a result – from their loyal customer I have downgraded to a customer with a negative attitude.
Ask questions and listen to the answers. Also pay attention to the words, tone of voice, body language, when possible, and try to understand how your customers feel. You cannot help your customers if you are not able to understand them.
3. Promise only what you can deliver, and then over deliver.
There’s nothing worse than disappointing customers’ expectations, and there’s nothing better than delivering WOW-service. Providing WOW-service means significantly exceeding customers’ expectations. WOW-service is the best way to win loyal customers.
4. Know how to apologize.
Sometimes things go wrong. Do not just give angry customers their money back and let them go away angry. Admit you were wrong and issue a great apology. When you let customers go away angry, you lose customers. When you go an extra mile to make the situation right, you may win the customer back. Humility can calm anger faster than a refund.
5. Treat employees well.
None of customer service strategies is viable without well-trained, enthusiastic and capable employees. Unhappy employees are not able to make customers happy. Give your employees the most effective training and proper motivation. Show that you value and respect them, and they will pass this attitude to your customers.
Following these rules is not as easy as it seems, but if you start following them just little by little every day, it will bring your customer service to an absolutely different level months and years after.
We are happy to introduce you our new amazing contact toolbar, which includes several contact options for your website visitors. Log in to your HelpOnClick operator panel now to check out the new toolbar!
The HelpOnClick live chat software offers several engagement options for the online chat, such as a widget, a button, a direct link, and an iframe. Now we have added another powerful option, that may become the main contact point on your website. You can find it in your operator panel under the following tabs: “Admin” —> “Code”, and on the “Code” page choose “Toolbar”.
The contact toolbar is a set of buttons that allow website visitors to enter a chat, send an email, contact you via Skype, or read your Twitter and Facebook feeds.
The toolbar can be placed on the bottom of your website, or on a side (vertical position). You can customize the color of the toolbar, buttons names, and select icons. You decide if you want to use all available contact options, or only some of them. There is also a possibility to create up to three custom buttons. Live preview will help you estimate the results of customization in the real time. To access the toolbar editor, click on the “Open widget builder” button on the “Code” page.
Another great tool that is released is eye-catchers. Eye-catchers grasp your visitors’ attention and engage them to start a chat, or contact you via other available options.
You can select an eye-catcher from the library (“Admin” —> “Code” —> “Toolbar” —> “Open widget builder” —> “Invitation” —> “Custom image” —> “Choose from library”), or upload your own design.
The eye-catchers use the same automated invitation rules, that apply to the chat widget. There are two types of the eye-catchers. The first one has a classic view: a picture of an operator and an invitation text. It is fully synchronized with the invitation rules regarding timing and messages. The second one is more creative. It is a custom image which pops up in correspondence with the invitation rules, but the invitation text stays unchanged, as it is a part of the image.
Customer service today is one of the most important aspects of any business. Bad customer service can ruin a company. Good customer service can always be improved. See what you can do to improve your customer service.
1. Listen to your customers.
Your customers are a great source of learning. They would be glad to tell you how you can deliver better service if you are ready to listen to them. You can ask them in person or conduct a small survey. In any case you may be surprised with the number of things that your customers think you could improve.
2. Let customers get to know you.
Online business is much more anonymous than offline business. To assure customers that you will not disappear overnight, add some personal information to your website. This can be your office address with a map, some pictures of your office or your employees. Personal information can minimize concerns of accessibility, trust or safety.
3. Set and communicate clear standards.
Many small businesses do not have communication standards, because their owners think that they do not need them. As a result, all employees behave according to their own idea of good service. Does this look familiar to you? Here is the room to improve. Service standards ensure that the service is consistently good, in every location, from everyone, every day. And, of course, your staff need to know what you expect of them.
4. Be available to your customers.
People hate waiting. As well as they hate writing to nowhere. When you offer phone, live chat support, or email support, make sure that your customers can reach you via these channels. If you are not able to provide 24/7 support, specify your office hours on the website. If a customer can’t get hold of you when they need to, you could lose them forever.
5. Train your staff.
There are a huge number of staff training methods available today. Start from hiring the right people and continue with improving their skills, work at their motivation and objectives. Here is an example of a cheap and effective method: send staff as “mystery shoppers” to your competitors. Let them see for themselves what others are doing. Get them to share their experience and see what best practice you can adopt.
Good luck in improving your service!
When you open a business, you need to decide which customer service channels you are going to implement. If you have a website, you will probably choose to show your phone number and email address on your contact page. And what about a live chat? Do you think that your clients might need it?
Software Advice, a consulting company for customer service software buyers, conducted a survey of 346 respondents and 30 businesses to find out the impact of demographics on live chat customer service.
The research shows that younger people (ages 18 to 34) are more likely to have used live chat once or several times, while older people (aged 55 and over) are more likely to have never used live chat, or to have used it without success.
There is also a strong relationship between a consumer’s age and their preference for using live chat versus the phone. Look at the charts below too see how the relationship persists across three types of queries.
Financial Queries: Preferences for Live Chat vs. Phone by Age
Simple Queries: Preferences for Live Chat vs. Phone by Age
Online Shopping Queries: Preferences for Live Chat vs. Phone by Age
Younger customers prefer chat over phone for simple queries and online shopping queries. The most obvious reason for using chat during online shopping is that the customers are already online, and thus can use live chat with little effort: they do not need to reach for the phone or worry about hold times, and they can expect a quicker answer than if they called or emailed.
Some companies also state, that they successfully provide chat help to the middle-aged people. Lesley Cowie, marketing manager of Everblue, provider of sustainability training and certification, explains that its audience is primarily men aged 35 to 55.
“These individuals often come from occupations that include architect, engineer, construction manager, general contractor, home inspector, home builder or facilities manager,” Cowie says. “I don’t believe that there has been too much of a learning curve for our audience to use live chat. We’ve been pleased with the number of individuals who reach out to us through live chat on a daily basis.”
A majority of U.S. adults surveyed have used live chat at least once—and many express a clear preference for it over more traditional customer service channels. As an online service channel, live chat meets customers exactly where most of them seek pre-sales product information and post-sales support. When you start a business, do not forget to add live chat service to your website.
Retaining customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones, and customer experience management is the most cost-effective way to drive customer satisfaction. Loyal customers ensure sales, reduce costs associated with consumer education, and recommend you to their friends.
However, not every customer who regularly purchases your products is loyal to your company. There are many reasons why they repeat purchasing from you:
- You are currently the low cost provider;
- It takes too many efforts or it is to expensive to change suppliers;
- They are used to using your products, and habits are hard to break;
- They may have relationships with one of your employees;
- Your location is currently the most convenient to them;
- You are currently the only available supplier to them;
- There is a contractual arrangement with your company.
All these reasons mean that as soon as a desirable competitor comes around, they may switch to them easily. On the contrary, loyal customers believe that your products and services are superior to those of the competition. They do not seek for alternatives, even when they have options.
Customer loyalty does not mean, that customers are loyal to your company alone. In the real world, customers are more often loyal to several companies, when it is possible. That means that they may tend to purchase brand A 60 percent of the time, brand B 30 percent, and brand C 10 percent of the time. They are loyal to these brands, but not to others, and yet 100% loyal to none. In this case the objective of companies is to make customers as loyal as possible, to maximize customer share of wallet.
Loyal customers may represent no more than 20 percent of your customer base, but make up more that 50 percent of your sales. You need to be communicating with these customers on a regular basis. These people are the ones who can and should influence your marketing decisions. Nothing will make a loyal customer feel better than soliciting their input and showing them how much you value it. Still you need to consider the fact, that not all regular customers are loyal to your company (see the reasons above). You need to be able to classify your customers and identify the loyal ones correctly if you plan to make marketing decisions based on their interests.