2021.7.13

How To Improve Customer Service

Written by Aine Hendron

happy customer v2

Improving customer service goes beyond changing your employees’ mannerisms and making sure they smile at customers as they arrive. Having a true understanding of how customers view your business is also more complicated than gauging their emotions. This guide outlines four strategies designed to improve customer service in business.

Compare and reflect

In order to make actionable changes that improve customer satisfaction and retention, you’ll have to do a bit of research.

To view your business objectively, we recommend conducting some research into how your business operates. 

Understand churn rate

Customer churn is the rate that consumers end a relationship with a company after a certain period of time. Depending on the industry, churn rate is generally measured monthly or yearly. 

It’s important to learn your churn rate so you can uncover patterns of customer behaviour and gain a better understanding of why they leave. If you have many customers leaving at once, reflect on recent changes your business has made. 

Are there seasonal patterns? Have you introduced a new product or service that might upset customers? Has your competitor recently introduced a new product which is attracting customers to shop with them instead?

Create a customer satisfaction survey

If your churn rate analysis isn’t revealing any clear patterns, another way to gain insight into your consumers’ thoughts is by creating a customer satisfaction survey. Ask customers directly for their opinions on your business and operations through multiple-choice surveys, or by asking for written feedback. 

You’ll want customers to provide constructive feedback on how you need to improve, or highlight what you’re doing right, so you can continue doing it.

Some things you might want to ask include:

  • How would you rate the ease of use of our product/service?
  • How would you rate the quality of product/service?
  • Would you recommend our business to others?
  • Is there anything lacking or that you wish our business offered?
  • Why did you choose our product instead of our competitors?
  • How easy is it to navigate our website / social media?
  • Are you happy with the customer service you received?
  • How would you describe our business to a friend?

Analyse your results

This survey gives you the opportunity to address issues that could negatively affect customer retention. If the feedback repeatedly highlights specific issues, then you have a clear insight into what you need to improve. Again, the importance of asking detailed questions is important to avoid surface-level, unactionable feedback. 

Building a relationship with a customer by asking for feedback and acting on their response will lead to a lower churn rate, and better business overall. Each returning customer will help sustain recurring revenue, as well as reduce marketing cost to acquire new customers. While these insights can be disheartening to read, they provide the opportunity to uncover and correct shortcomings and improve customer retention

Conduct competitor analyses

Competitor analyses are when you study your competition’s strengths and weaknesses to see how you perform in the marketplace. You will analyse a variety of factors to gather an understanding of what makes them successful. 

You’ll want to create a list of your competitors, then take a detailed look at each restaurant’s business structure and overall success. Note every aspect of their business that could influence their bottom line. 

By doing so, you can see what they do right, any shortcomings they may have, and how they can improve. Once you have this information, you can learn ways to replicate a competitor’s success and see what you need to offer to gain a competitive edge. You can fill the gaps that they’re missing, and incorporate some of their business ideas into your own strategy.

Strategize and plan

Complaints and customer recovery strategy 

Human error is inevitably going to impact your business from time to time. When something does go wrong, it can be extremely beneficial to have a plan in place on how to handle complaints. Standardise how you deal with customer complaints to reduce stress for employees, and give customers better customer service. A company-wide strategy will also reduce the risk of simple complaints escalating into negative publicity for the business. Customers will always receive the same high-quality apology and resolution if employees are trained to handle complaints in the same way. 

When dealing with a customer complaint, you’ll want to REACT:

React

Empathise

Apologise 

Communicate

Train

If complaints are resolved correctly, it can actually result in customers having a more positive view of the business than if they hadn’t had an issue in the first place. This is a phenomenon called the service recovery paradox. 

After you read this blog, you might want to read our complete guide on the REACT method.

Use technology

Attract new customers and keep your current customers happy, by managing your customer relationship via your point of sale (POS) system. 

Select a POS system that is tailored to your industry: retail, or hospitality. You’ll want to make sure your POS has all the necessary integrations that you need to support your customers’ needs and requests. 

Epos Now’s systems are customer-orientated, yet designed with the business’s profits in mind. Some features include:

  • Reports on how products are selling and how much revenue each item brings.
  • Overview of your busiest hours and days, along with seasonal trends.
  • Loyalty systems, gift cards and personalised discounts.
  • Payment processing for customer convenience.
  • Personalised customer profiles, where you can include notes and record order history. This creates relevant suggestions for each customer to increase sales.
  • Integrations with marketing software, connect your SMS, email and social media with ease.
  • Omnichannel, if you operate in multiple stores.

If you’re interested in expanding your business with a POS system, get in touch today

Anticipate your customers’ needs

Good customer service should make customers feel cared for and looked after. Anticipate your customers’ needs and meet them, ideally before they even have to ask. This doesn’t mean adding things onto their bill without asking; rather, making relevant and useful suggestions, or going the extra mile with free gestures. 

Little details and efforts can make a huge difference. For example, if you’re a server in a restaurant and you see a family arriving in your establishment, greet them with childrens’ menus in hand, and offer to carry a baby seat over to their table. If a customer is struggling to select a drink, make a suggestion based on what will compliment their food. 

Ensuring your serving staff are attuned to the needs of customers, and meet these needs with a positive attitude will allow for a great customer experience. It can also lead to better reviews, increased customer loyalty and perhaps even some cash tips from patrons

Use a customer loyalty program

People like feeling that their dedicated, continued support of your company will be rewarded. Customer loyalty programs can take the form of stamp cards, annual discounts on customers’ sign-up anniversary, or a certain percentage discount after a set number of purchases.  

Create a loyalty structure that is rewarding for patrons, yet won’t cost your business too much money once customers cash in their rewards. The cost of the prize or discount you provide should always be covered by the customer’s previous purchases. 

Make it special

Above all, if you treat customers kindly and greet them with a smile, they are sure to have a more positive experience. Speak to customers using warm and friendly language, and mirror this through your facial expression and body language. Be known for keeping an exceptionally high standard of customer service, and remind patrons that they’re always welcome to return. 

Shockingly, employees only ask for the customer's name 21% of the time. Speak to customers using their name. This will show them that you don’t view your interaction as a simple transaction, but a meaningful conversation. You want to let them know that they’re appreciated and valued as customers. 

You want your business to be associated with a good time, and so your word choices should reflect that. Show your gratitude, and turn positives into negatives with your phrasing and language.

For example: 

Replace “Sorry for the wait.”, with “Thank you for your patience.” 

Replace “We don’t have that.” with “That’s something we are still working on at the moment. However, I can suggest XYZ.”

Replace “I don’t know.” with “Let me find out for you!”

Providing a positive response, rather than a negative apology, still acknowledges that there was room for improvement on your end, while showing gratitude to the customer. Move attention away from the error or shortcoming on the company’s behalf, and onto the patience and understanding of the customer. 

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