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While the brands that lead in delivering world-class customer experience tend to be global players, it doesn’t mean they have a monopoly on providing elite-level customer service.
The truth is your company doesn’t have to be part of the Fortune 10, Fortune 100, or Fortune 500 to make the grade. Whether you’re a fledgling startup on the local scene or a corporate giant with global reach, providing 5-star customer service is well within your grasp.
What is 5 star customer service?
Although there is no universally accepted definition, brands with 5-star customer service intimately understand their customers’ behavior, work to significantly exceed customer expectations, prioritize the experience of their customer service agents, and continuously strive to build brand loyalty.
5 star customer service removes friction and increases delight in the customer experience by anticipating customer needs, providing multiple channels for communication, and offering personalized, bespoke recommendations based on each shoppers’ unique history with a brand.
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Delivering 5-Star Customer Experience: The ROI
Delivering a top-of-the-line customer experience is a win-win situation – your customers will benefit and your company will, too.
If anything, your company will get the lion’s share of the benefits. For instance, a 2018 Forrester study found that, in addition to 1.6x higher customer satisfaction rates, ‘experience-led’ companies benefited from delivering world-class customer experience in the following ways:
- 1.6x greater brand awareness;
- 1.5x higher employee satisfaction;
- 1.9x higher average order value;
- 1.7x higher customer retention; and
- 1.9x return on spend.
Companies that place a premium on delivering world-class customer experience also reap a plethora of rewards, which we’ll cover next.
Business Benefits of Five Star Customer Service
1. Increased Cross-Selling (And Up-Selling) Opportunities
Companies use cross-selling and up-selling techniques to prompt existing customers to spend more.
They can be summed up by the old saying, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ In other words, it’s much easier for a company to sell to an existing customer (a bird in the hand) than it is to sell to a prospective customer (a bird in the bush).
Cross-selling encourages customers to buy something complementary to their main purchase. For example, if Bert is going on a cruise and his travel agent asks if he would also like to go on a guided tour when the ship docks, this would be an example of cross-selling.
By contrast, up-selling encourages customers to buy an add-on or upgrade that will make the main purchase more expensive. Let’s say Ernie is on a seven-day vacation. An example of up-selling would involve his travel agent suggesting that he pay an extra $100 for additional time or a luxurious upgrade.
To ace cross-selling and up-selling, agents must suggest a purchase that is suitable for where the customer is at a particular point in time, considering the products and services they’re using and what they still need to achieve their goals.
With complete visibility (via their customer profiles) your company is in great shape to cross-sell and up-sell because customer service agents already have the inside scoop on your customers.
2. Free Advertising via Word-of-Mouth Referrals
Free advertising is one thing that money can’t buy. A word-of-mouth referral from a friend or family member carries more weight than any ad your company could ever run. In fact, according to a Qualtrics report, 94% of customers who described their customer experience as “very good” were likely to recommend the brand to others.
One of the most effective ways to start racking up word-of-mouth referrals is by delivering a customer experience that is so compelling that your customers can’t help but talk about your company to their friends and family.
To that end, make sure to:
- Understand their needs;
- Delight your customers;
- Go above and beyond for them;
- Provide proactive solutions that solve their problems.
When customers have an unforgettable experience with your company, they won’t be able to help themselves – they’ll spread the word far and wide.
3. Improved Customer Crisis Management & Service Recovery
Even the most beloved of brands make mistakes or have problems that affect customer experience. Luckily, providing best-in-class customer service strengthens customer trust and goodwill, which all support teams appreciate when they inevitably have to run through service recovery.
On that note: Service recovery is an indispensable skill for customer service as it serves as your primary defense against customer failure and churn. Even the tiniest of issues can lead to customer failure, and research indicates that a significant 42% of customers would switch brands after encountering just two instances of poor customer service.
[ Read more: Create a Service Recovery Strategy in 4 Steps ]
5-Star Customer Service Skills
To deliver 5-star customer service, your agents need to possess a specific set of skills:
Empathy is crucial to providing exceptional customer service. When agents understand and relate to customer concerns, they can provide personalized and effective solutions.
2. Active Listening
Active listening involves fully focusing on and understanding the customer’s needs. It requires giving full attention, asking clarifying questions, and responding appropriately.
Being able to think critically and find creative solutions is vital for resolving customer issues efficiently and effectively.
Clear and concise communication is key to ensuring customers understand the information and solutions provided. Agents should be able to adapt their communication style to meet individual customer needs.
Dealing with frustrated or upset customers can be challenging. Patience allows agents to remain calm and composed while working towards a resolution.
How to Provide World-Class Customer Service: A Walk-Through
“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”
We totally agree with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. Hsieh has literally written the book about delivering world-class customer service entitled, ‘Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,’ which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list.
In his book, Hsieh says that what distinguishes Zappos from its competitors is that its customer service agents’ sole aim is to create an emotional connection with each caller – irrespective of how long it takes. This could be a fleeting moment or even several hours. (Zappos’ record for the longest customer service call is 10 hours, 51 minutes.) At Zappos, company call parameters simply don’t exist.
Here’s three other ways that Zappos leads the pack in providing world-class customer service.
- They Listen to Their Customers
Many companies hear their customers, but very few listen to them.
Zappos spends time observing and tracking customer behavior with a view to creating more emotional connections with its customers.
- They Personalize Their Customers
Customers are real people, but oftentimes companies treat them like numbers.
Zappos makes every effort to remember customer names, previous conversations and so forth. Customer calls are often earmarked by personal topics like weddings, pregnancies, graduations, birthdays and anniversaries.
- They Anticipate Their Customers’ Needs
The late Steve Jobs once said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
Zappos doesn’t have the benefit of a crystal ball but, as experts in their field, they can anticipate their customers’ needs. So, when responding to customers’ queries, they preempt further questions they may ask.
Final Thoughts: Elements of Five Star Customer Service
The effects of good customer service are undeniable. With free advertising, improved crisis management and increased cross-selling/up-selling opportunities up for grabs, now is as good a time as ever to find out how Gladly can help your company to provide five-star customer service.
Gladly is a customer service platform for digitally-focused B2C companies who want to maximize the lifetime value of their customers. Unlike the legacy approach to customer service software, which is designed around a ticket or case to enable workflows, Gladly enables radically personal customer service centered around people to sustain customer loyalty and drive more revenue.
The world’s most innovative consumer companies like Godiva, JOANN, and TUMI use Gladly to create lasting customer relationships, not one-off experiences.