Delivering five-star customer service is easier said than done. But the good news is that your company doesn’t have to be a world-beater to deliver world-class customer service.
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 world-class customer service is well within your grasp.
World-Class Customer Service: A Definition
According to the founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club, Sam Walton, “The goal, as a company, is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.”
Even though attempts to define world-class customer service have fallen short of a universally accepted definition, the general consensus is that world-class customer service involves intimately understanding customer behavior, significantly exceeding customer expectations and building considerable brand loyalty.
Delivering World-Class Customer Experience: The ROI
Delivering world-class 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 these three rewards:
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.
Free advertising is one thing that money can’t buy.
Continually delivering excellent customer service will produce satisfied, loyal customers who enthusiastically spread the word about your company’s products or services (without you ever having to ask them to). In the words of Hubspot cofounder, Dharmesh Shah, “The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy.”
Improved Customer Crisis Management
Good customer service creates goodwill, which is one of the ‘hidden’ benefits of providing world-class customer service.
If an unforeseen crisis hits your company, two factors determine how effectively it can be managed:
How Well You Know Your Customers
The success of any customer experience strategy lies in how well-acquainted a company is with its customers.
In a crisis scenario, a company that has carried out a ‘deep dive’ for customer information (for example, identifying their behavior, needs and preferences) can manage its customers more effectively than a company that only knows its customers on a superficial level (such as sales figures, accounting numbers and the like).
Knowing your customers means building personal relationships. A smart and effective strategy is to route agents to customers based on who the customer is, what their situation is and what they need. Let’s say Alice is not pleased with the service she’s received from your company to date. Routing her will promptly assign Alice a solutions-focused agent who is well-versed with handling dissatisfied customers in a tactful and diplomatic manner to offer her great customer service.
How Satisfied Your Customers Are With The Experience You Deliver
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou
Brands that focus on improving the elements of customer experience succeed at forming an emotional connection with their customers. When a customer’s experience with a company is seamless and they associate the company with overwhelmingly positive emotions, they will be far more likely to give the company the benefit of the doubt (and even afford them some leeway) when things go wrong.
How to Provide World-Class Customer Service: A Walk-Through
“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”
This quote is credited to Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer. 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 the customer service stakes.
- 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 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 watch our demo to find out how Gladly can help your company to provide five-star customer service.