Take the Time to Get Customer Service Right

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With CRM systems, call center software and other innovations, it’s tempting to try to automate customer service. But going the extra mile when it really matters could make a big difference with your customers.

Bain & Company researchers examined customer experience surveys from more than 97,000 account holders in North America to try to figure out why so many people prefer standing in line for a teller over the convenience of ATMs and online banking. According to their results, and more than 5,000 follow-up interviews, customers crave personal connections at critical moments. These make-or-break moments, like replacing a lost credit card, processing an urgent payment, or just getting a receipt for a deposit, heavily influence a customer’s perception of a business.

So the message from that research is simple: Don’t forget the importance of a personal touch with your customers.

For example, if your fancy schmancy CRM system prompts your customer service agent to ask for an account number after a customer has just waded (and waited) through an automated answering system, you might want to rethink that. Make sure you deal with problems first, and try to complete customer profiles after problems are resolved or at less urgent times.

When potential customers call up and ask about specific product features, don’t try to rush straight to a big sale. Drew Zarges of Sales Benchmark Index recommends a discovery process to uncover where a prospect stands in the purchasing cycle. Suggesting a few stopgap measures on the way to a broader solution may not help you make this quarter’s sales goal, but it can help you build the kind of trust that lands far bigger deals while keeping your competitors from undercutting you on price.

And don’t bombard sales prospects with pitches either. Online games, social media posts and informational newsletters can build customer perceptions of your business, especially if they don’t contain too much sales content. Giving customers something useful or fun without expecting anything in return is a great way to build good will with potential customers so they’ll think of you when it’s time to buy.

In the age of social media, a single happy customer can influence hundreds, if not thousands, of people, so do your best to give all your customers a positive experience.

Adapted from 4 Ways Slower Customer Experiences Boost Sales by Joe Taylor Jr. at Small Business Computing.