Great customer service can turn customers into lifelong brand advocates. Loyalty from customers is important because almost half of customers spend more on brands they are loyal to. Great customer service can be subtle but it makes all the difference to the customer’s experience.
Characteristics of great customer service
The manner of delivering great customer services varies between companies, but the key characteristics of great customer service are:
- Quick response time to queries and requests,
- Responding to all requests and feedback received,
- Frictionless contact channels so that the customer can reach helpdesk easily, and
- Willingness to empathize with customers and find solutions.
Customer service hook
A customer wrote about their stay in a low-priced hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, as an example of great customer service. When they checked in at the front desk, the staff handed them a bottle of water and basket full of jumbo-sized candy bars. They explained that while they may not be a fancy hotel or place fancy mints on guests’ pillows, they did like their guests to have something sweet for their room.
The basket of candy was their hook for great customer service. The candy bar and the bottle of water probably made up 2% of the room rate. However, this 2% is the cost of providing a customer with a unique experience. It is an amenity that the hotel spends on to delight their customers. A little touch like that can charm a customer so that it sparks thoughts of when they will return. They talk about it to their friends and family and champion the brand further.
Here are some examples of customer service hooks:
- Personalize customer experiences – Sweeps is a company that aggregates people to supply on-demand moving assistance and other odd jobs. Personalizing the customer experience for customers as well as the community means listening to the community and anticipating their needs. When it’s snowing, they reach out to customers who have needed snow shovelling services in the past. When someone is sick, they send a care package. On their 100th job, Sweeps surprises Sweepers and customers with a bouquet of flowers or a toolbox.
- Proactively start conversations – At a restaurant, when a chef comes to approaches guests to ask them about the food or make a recommendation, customers are charmed. They are certain to recommend the restaurant further and talk about their delightful conversation with the chef. It is important that these conversations flow naturally and are not forced. Glossier, a skincare and makeup brand, goes out of their way to send e-mails to customers after they have made a purchase to ask them how they like the product. Seeing these e-mails, it is obvious they have been typed by a human being, rather than a scripted bot.
- Reward loyal customers – This hook for customer service makes customers feel valued and is sure to extend their support and loyalty to your brand. A company could partner with community artists to design t-shirts for their biggest promoters. A t-shirt that is well designed can prompt discussion when its worn, giving the company publicity and exposure. Other examples of rewards are special discounts, freebies, and outings for valued customers.
- Small gestures – Little gestures such as keeping umbrellas on hand or offering customers a glass of water show customers that you are focused on providing them a great experience. AirBnB gives hosts ratings and top-rated hosts leave personal touches like a message or bottle of wine or suggestions of what to see, that improve a guest’s experience immensely. These gestures spark joy in customers.
- Friendly customer service representatives – Have you ever noticed that customer service representatives at certain stores or companies are all friendly? Although friendliness and a positive attitude are must-haves on paper for any customer service job, it can appear artificial. Companies that are aware of the importance of quality customer service hire only the best. Their naturally positive energy, desire to help a customer and drive to do their job well are infectious. Also, when all the representatives have these qualities, the image of the company reflects in a positive light.
- Go the extra mile – Going the extra mile to do something thoughtful for customers results in benefits that far outpace the costs. Many of us have read the story of the toddler that wrote a letter to the UK grocery store, Sainsbury’s, to ask why the tiger bread was not called giraffe bread instead. The customer service manager of Sainsbury’s responded saying he thought it was a brilliant idea and the store renamed the bread to giraffe bread six months later. Here, Sainsbury’s was not being indulgent of a three-year-old. They took a suggestion and brought a smile to customers’ faces. Going the distance for your customers does not have to be expensive or indulgent.
Businesses need to be built around delivering excellent customer service. In building a business, it is easy to forget about customer service while marketing and engaging in brand building. The above points illustrate ways of developing a hook for great customer service.