20 ways to deliver exceptional customer service – free checklist
Some of you might know why it’s important to deliver exceptional customer service, some might pay it lip service. First up I want to explain to you why it’s financially important to your success.
Why it’s important to deliver exceptional customer service
The biggest reason I can ever think of is that it’s easier to retain a client than to acquire a new one. The benefit of keeping a client is that it grows their lifetime value and your profit margin on that client. Then that client will go on and refer others, with no marketing cost to you. Can you see the $ you’re making just by keeping one client?
Then there’s the fact that some customers will pay more for better customer service, don’t you want a customer who will pay more? This becomes your competitive advantage and what represents your brand.
So now you know a little more about why you and your business should care about delivering exceptional customer service, how do you make it happen? Well, I’ve outlined 20 ways to make it happen.
1. Know your product or service
While most of us can excuse a new staff member not knowing the ins and outs of everything, we are also pleasantly surprised when they do.
Education is empowering and teaching your staff and yourself about how the features and benefits meet the needs and other drivers a customer has makes their lives easier. If you can understand why product A is a better option for client A but can listen and discern the subtle differences each client brings, you’re in front from the start.
2. Personalise your service
Even fast-food chains allow you to personalize your burger. But there’s more to a personalized service than this.
Almost half of your customers want more from you. That means they want to feel like more than just a number. Let’s face it, no one likes to feel used or unimportant. You know that people want to do business with people and this is where personalizing your service comes in. For some businesses it’s the hand-written note, others it’s a birthday discount or gift, for some it’s a parcel out of the blue!
3. Give them ways to help themselves
In a 24/7 online world, questions come when shops are closed but clients still want answers. It’s one thing to enable online shopping it’s another to have online helping.
Giving customers ways to help themselves through online shopping, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), chatbots with their automated answer sequences, and online chat all provide different ways to meet the customer service needs of your audience.
4. Help without expecting a sale
This is my favourite way to provide exceptional customer service because I can do it to anyone, it costs my time, and I never know where it will lead (to the law of reciprocity would disagree).
While I have been doing this for many years in my business, it was the book, Youtility by Jay Baer, that really taught me the financial benefit to my business. It also helped me overcome the misgivings I had about people “stealing” ideas or never buying from me. Boy how I was wrong.
5. Remain positive
I first came across the science behind what I had done with my staff during my Masters study. I read an article which said that positive staff were happy staff and happy staff made for happy clients.
A few years later, while researching the psychology of social media, I learnt that happy clients buy more.
Time to put a smile on your dial and a spring in your step!
6. Do what you say
When you say you deliver exceptional service, it’s not you who determines what that is, it’s your customers – they set the bar. So when you say you do something, you need to at least do it and preferably do more.
TIP: The extra mile is never crowded – Wayne Dyer
Do you know what the logical next step is for your client? What is the normal progression? Remember it’s cheaper to retain a client than to make a new one.
Proactively help your client through their next steps and thereby to the next level in your sales funnel. It’s exceptional service and proactive sales. (It doesn’t have to be pushy either)
8. Tell them how you’ll meet their expectations
Your client comes to you with a set of expectations, save yourself some time and potential heartache by taking the time to understand them. Simple active listening techniques of saying what general expectations are of clients and asking them if theirs are any different and repeating their answer back to them can often be all that’s needed to clear a situation before it occurs.
It shows that you understand what your general client expectations are, that you are prepared to and can potentially personalize their service, that you listen, value their input in the situation and look for a way forward.
I have recently read Peak by Chip Conley and in it he goes into the Client Expectation Hierarchy. This hierarchy marries drivers, expectations, and what results when expectations are met. It’s a fabulous read if you’re serious in delivering exceptional customer service.
9. Model it in your actions and for your staff
You want and expect your staff to offer exceptional customer service, you not only need to do the same to the customers but your staff too. Not only will it make the staff happier, and happy staff = happy clients, but it role models the behaviour to staff and helps it to become ingrained.
10. Know and leverage touchpoints
It can take 7-12 touches to create a sale. Do you know where all of yours are and do you use them to maintain the client relationship and customer service after?
Social media, email, newsletters, and after-sale service are as important as leverage up to and sealing the deal as they are afterwards in maintaining the client relationship and continuing a profitable relationship. Remember, it’s cheaper to maintain than acquire a client.
11. Respond ASAP
Customers understand that businesses can be busy and they hope that they’re not your only customer, but as a customer, our time is as valuable as yours or the next customer. Please show that you understand that and let us know when we can expect a response or admit to a delay. It allows customers to plan their time effectively and it shows that you care for our time.
12. Good listener
Listening is what the other person does and feeling heard is what we want and how we feel when we believe they’ve listened. Both rely on the perspective of the person doing the listening or wanting to be heard.
Customers like to feel heard because it validates us and what we’ve said, plus it validates the drivers behind what we said.
Looking for tips on how to become a better listener and improve your customer service, then I suggest reading this article with many tips on improving your listening skills.
13. Encourage feedback
Not just reviews and testimonials but warts and all stuff too. It’s not personal, it’s business. Getting feedback from clients allows you to assess and improve your product, service, or customer service. Acting on the feedback, and especially letting the person know that you have, validates their feedback and the drivers which brought them to giving the feedback in the first place.
14. Own your mistakes
Customers know you can’t get it right all the time and admitting that you make mistakes doesn’t show weakness it shows humanity. It also doesn’t mean that you were wrong, sometimes we miss things or have bad days and that’s ok – I’m fairly certain your clients aren’t always perfect either.
TIP: It’s one thing to have high expectations of yourself it’s another to judge yourself when you don’t achieve them through no fault of your own. You’re allowed to cut yourself some slack for bad days.
15. Apologise for your mistakes
So you’ve admitted a mistake, please apologise for it. While you may not have made the mistake intentionally (that’s why it’s called a mistake), apologising is acknowledging that there may be hurt on the part of the other person and you regret that. It starts to repair a relationship, which may not be badly damaged and strengthens relationships. Most people respect an apology.
16. Fix your mistakes
So you’ve messed up, apologised, now’s the time to set it right. I don’t mean sucking up and going OTT. Just do what was expected in the first place. If you did point 8 then you will know what they are and can restore the wrong.
17. Don’t complain & don’t explain
A former boss told me, “Don’t complain & don’t explain”. When it comes to fixing mistakes, your customer rarely wants to hear you complain about what went wrong or why it happened. We want to know that you’re sorry, that you’re taking steps not to have it happen again, and that you’ll fix it. We don’t particularly want or care to know why it happened, that’s information for you. To us, it happened and now we’d like it fixed.
18. Go the extra mile
As I mentioned earlier, the extra mile is rarely crowded. And the little extras can make us feel important. Better still, refer to point 2 and personalize the way you go the extra mile. So few businesses take that extra step but it’s these unexpected things which show our custom is important to you.
19. Front and centre
Put the client at the centre of your business, without them your business ceases to exist.
20. Understand their drivers
Understand what drives your customers as it relates to you, your staff, your business, and your product or service. You can read more on why understanding customer drivers are important in this post, you can read more about the driver theory in this post, and you can learn how to embed customer drivers in your marketing over here.
Now you’ve read my 20 ways to deliver exceptional customer service, I’d like to hear which one you’re going to bring into your business and which one you appreciate most as a client. Leave a comment below.