7 ways to speed up customer service and reduce churn

Your customers are all busy people. When something breaks — a payment not received, a shipment delayed, faulty merchandise shipped — you will have to fix it as soon as you can.

The faster you fix the issue, the more trust you will gain, and the stronger your claim will be about great customer service.

After all, that’s one of your selling points, right?

In the recently released 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer report, 55% of customers abandoned a purchase because of subpar customer service.

And even if your customers stick with you through the transaction, they might leave a bad review about you somewhere.

Either way, it’s not smart to sit on customer complaints.

Here’s how you can deal with customer queries and get faster turn around times.

1. Don’t hype your stuff, and don’t overpromise

Let’s start with the basics.

Keep your messaging straight, and don’t talk about things your product can’t do. You don’t want to increase expectations and whip your customers into a frenzy only to stumble and fall short at the finish line. It’s better to do the opposite — underpromise and over-deliver.

2. Keep your website user friendly and informative

File this one in the basics folder too. Lots of websites, though gorgeous, stink when it comes to providing users with actionable information. They may not load fast, they might not be mobile friendly, or there might not be any self service options like FAQ or knowledge base.

Implementing these self service options can cut down the strain on your customer help desk significantly.

3. Educate your staff, and have policies for every kind of situation.

Your employees (especially your help desk staff) are crucial to ensuring a rapid delivery of customer service. Since they are the ones answering phones and emails, you need them to be able to make on-the-spot decisions.

For these decisions to conform to your brand image, you must drill your staff in all types of customer service scenarios. Create a manual or an online resource, update it frequently and distribute it widely.

4. Trust them and give them authority

Most of the best in class companies in customer service have a pretty hands-off approach when dealing with customer facing employees. For example,Ritz Carlton has a policy that lets employees spend up to $2000 without any management sign-off to solve guest issues.

Making your employees run to a supervisor to check every decision not only demotivates them, but results in slower service for your customer.

5. Don’t skimp on technology

Taking advantage of appropriate technology can transform the speed of your service from a plodding pony to a galloping racehorse.

Focus on technology that’s easy to maintain, easy to get trained on, integrates well with existing customer support software like CRM suites, is not costly, and is smart and contextual.

6. Cut back on red tape

This is a biggie, mainly because it has a lot to do with hard to change stuff like corporate culture. One of the biggest reasons why service gets delayed is because departments and people in many big companies don’t talk to each other and are averse to sharing information.

Smaller companies can avoid this more easily. Faster communication equals faster service, giving little guys a one-up on their competitors’ resource and market domination.

7. Be proactive and seek out user problems

There were many times when I randomly tweeted about service issues without any mentions and  got a prompt response from the brand involved. That’s a very smart strategy — not only did these companies demonstrate that they were listening to their users, it also showed they were alert and looking out for issues that might not yet be formally reported.

This is a good example of a stitch in time saving nine. Use technology like Twitter search, Google alerts, etc. to keep yourself up to date with the chatter.

Conclusion

If you are worried about customers jumping ship, try to implement these tips and tell us about the results.

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