In a customer driven market, excellent customer service is key to success. With the increase of online businesses which are providing quicker, cheaper and easier access to products and solutions, impressive online customer service is paramount. No longer are customers relying on the friendly, knowledgeable in-store sales person to increase their confidence in accepting a deal, but customers require an online equivalent – good service and peace of mind through your website.

 
Importance of Excellent Customer Service

When a customer has a positive experience, they tend to share this with only a handful of close friends and family members. When they have a negative experience, they pass this on to many more, averaging at 12 others. It has been found that to make up for one bad experience, it takes twelve positive experiences, but customers are unlikely to return after an initial disappointment. After a negative experience, 86% of customers cease business with a company altogether. As well as losing custom, businesses in turn receive bad press and bad reviews.

With the growing popularity of social media sites, people turn to these to express their disappointment, not only resulting in the publication of negative customer experience but furthermore, customers are aware that sharing on these public domains and more direct sources - such as live chat services - is more likely to get them some kind of resolve.

Not only do negative customer experiences need to be avoided but in order to get customers to talk about positive experiences with your brand, you need to provide not just good, but excellent customer service.


Social Media

While social media sites are great for marketing a company, they can quickly display negative press. Customer participation makes these sites a more honest representation of a business – the content is created by both the business and its users. This public participation results in social media sites being somewhere that a company should focus a lot of attention. An unanswered piece of negative feedback quickly becomes bad press; other customers wonder why there was no resolution and fear they too may be subject to a similar experience, turning their custom elsewhere.

Not only do other potential customers pick up negative reviews and comments, but marketing teams for competitors and often, news channels who will broadcast your bad service, tarnishing your reputation. It is increasingly important to provide excellent customer service on all channels. Those privately and those publicly if you desire to keep your customers.


Meet Customer Needs

It is important to meet your customer needs, changing your offerings to suit the customer driven market, not trying to alter the customer's expectations. Mass marketing is no longer as effective as it once was. Businesses must turn to target marketing and identify the areas of the market they can best serve successfully and profitably. Know who you are providing for and adjust your approach to provide the most positive customer experience you can for them. You won’t be able to provide excellent customer service if you cannot provide the right product for your target audience.


Customer Feedback

In order to meet your customers’ needs, it is important to respond to feedback and act upon it. For every customer that complains, 26 will have a negative experience and not report this to you. Those who speak up may be your only chance to discover where problems in your business lie. If someone is frustrated and doesn't get an answer to a query, there is another host of potential customers with the same query, lost to competitors.

It's difficult in the customer driven market as your customers expect outstanding levels of service. The companies who are succeeding may well be the more expensive brands, but this is because of their better customer service. 60% of consumers will pay more for a better experience. Having quick response and problem resolution times result in positive customer experience. Investing in customer relations is worthwhile.


Referral Schemes

Praising customer loyalty is also an important factor in acquiring customer satisfaction. Referral schemes where customers receive rewards for signing up new customers or rewards for returning customers (loyalty points, free gifts, delivery etc) attract customers and result in positive customer experience. You don't have to wait for multiple transactions from one customer before initiating this, businesses often experience single transactions from a high number of consumers – the key is finding out how to keep them. A positive experience is the first step but more can be done. After an initial transaction, send a lure to the customer to inspire a return. If they return, they will be rewarded. Customer engagement through incentives increases customer loyalty, repeat business and increase brand turnover. Most importantly, loyalty results in positive word of mouth.

 

The key to success is providing excellent customer experience. Slip ups occur and things may not always go to plan but it is important to address issues as soon as possible. Be aware that customers may have issues and have your resolutions at the ready. If someone is disappointed and considering going elsewhere, prove that you can turn it around. Bowl over your customer with quick response and resolution. In today's customer driven market, if your business provides customer satisfaction, your business will thrive.