Business owners often look solely at sales numbers as their barometer of success: If sales are up, business must therefore be doing well. However, profits could be shrinking if a business’ marketing budget is ballooning in the endless pursuit of new customers. Lowering customer attrition and creating lifelong brand advocates can be accomplished by focusing on the customer experience.
Customer satisfaction is crucial for growing any type of business, but studies show owners tend to have a skewed sense of what it means to deliver a satisfying experience. A survey by American Express found only one-third of respondents think businesses have taken steps to improve customer service, while the businesses themselves believe otherwise.
We’ve broken down five persistent customer service myths that can hurt the attempt to attract and retain customers:
Myth #1: The latest technology will excite and impress customers.
From video conferencing apps to cloud storage, most businesses lean on technology to get the job done. It’s the reality of our modern era. It also makes it easy to believe the fallacy that the more apps and tools you use, the more efficient and successful your business will be. However, not every new innovation is right for your industry, business model or customers. It’s important to ask: Does any of our technology (e.g., website features, point-of-service systems, phone apps) hinder customer service more than it helps? Is any technology a common source of online or in-person complaints? If the answer is yes, get rid of it, and find a new way to accomplish what that troublesome technology was commissioned to do.
Myth #2: More Employees = Better Service
More employees don’t automatically mean better customer service. If you have 20 employees and add 20 more, the only certain impact is a doubled workforce with twice the overhead. Focus instead on providing those original 20 employees with the tools and support they need to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic in engaging and nurturing customers. That’s how you create a winning team.
Myth #3: Customer loyalty is hard to track.
Advances in customer relationship management and point-of-sale software are making it far easier for businesses to set up an effective customer loyalty program. There are a variety of options, ranging in complexity, to fit the needs of any business:
- Points programs: Every time a purchase is made, a customer will receive a certain amount of points in return that can typically be put toward future purchases.
- Paid programs: Customers pay a fee to join a VIP club with exclusive benefits.
- Tier programs: The more a customer buys from a brand, the greater the reward and benefits they’ll receive.
As long as the loyalty system is easy to use and understand, a business can collect a wealth of data and metrics about customer behavior. This valuable information can then help shape future customer experience strategies.
Myth #4: Return policies should be uncompromising and always require receipts.
Studies show the vast majority of customers using coupons or returning items are doing so in an honest way, and trying to catch the “crooks” ends up doing more harm than good. When burdensome requirements are placed on a return or transaction, a customer is more likely to feel as if the business has no interest in fulfilling his or her request. It also places an employee in the challenging position of trying to follow policy while keeping the customer happy.
Unless someone is a “repeat offender,” employees should be encouraged to say yes as often as possible when helping a customer. The goal of long-term customer retention should always be kept in mind.
Myth #5: “A happy customer tells 3 people; an unhappy customer tells 10 people.”
The majority of reviews most businesses collect through Google, Facebook and Yelp are overwhelmingly positive. Plus, when customers conduct research, they seek out positive reviews. They want to know what moisturizer really works or what landscaping company goes above and beyond with their service. Even a single standout review can have a significant impact on potential new customers.
Because most reviews are positive, a business is well-served to remind its customers to put down their thoughts. According to a study conducted by Texas Tech University, “83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience—yet only 29% actually do.” Add links and reminders to your website, on social media posts, and in email marketing. When you want your customer to do something, you can’t assume they’ll do it without you asking for it.
In summation, customer satisfaction is critical to any business of any size, and customer care expectations are higher than ever. Problems with customer retention can usually be traced back to policies and processes, but most people won’t provide feedback because they assume changes won’t happen. It’s important to encourage reviews to ensure you understand the preferences of your customer base, because better customer service is the most direct and cost-effective way to a better bottom line.
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