10 Customer Service Best Practices for Customer Retention
In today’s economy, following customer service best practices is critical to retain customers. Companies are struggling to hire workers and finding great customer service reps is challenging. Yes, customer service expectations have dropped. Who goes the extra mile anymore? Exceptional customer service – is there such a thing?
Keep in mind, investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. And, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by between 25% and 95%!
“It takes months to find a customer… seconds to lose one.” – Vince Lombardi, former American football player, coach, and National Football League Executive
What is Customer Service?
You’re the voice of the company. You’re the direct link to your customers and clients. In today's world customer service terms vary from customer success, guest relations, or customer call center to help desk or brand ambassador.
Modern customer service goes beyond your traditional customer service rep answering a call. A customer service rep may be selling a product or service or entering data in their downtime. And anyone who is client-facing has a role in customer service – delivery drivers, service technicians, sales reps, retail store stockers, and the list goes on.
Show you value your customers – follow these 10 best practices for customer retention.
10 Customer Service Best Practices for Customer Retention
#1: Hire a dedicated customer support team.
Why? Once again, it all boils down to customer retention. Of approximately 1,000 consumers polled by Gladly’s Customer Service Expectations Survey, 92% will do business elsewhere after 3 or fewer bad experiences. And 26% stop after just one bad customer experience. My research shows hiring a dedicated customer support team is essential to retain unsatisfied customers.
But don’t just hire people to fill the positions. Hire qualified employees who fit the role. The following traits noted below should be in the job description and should be assessed during the interview process.
- Effective communication and active listening skills
- Effective record keeper
- Friendly, respectful, positive attitude
- Knows when to escalate customer issues
- Natural knack for building customer relationships
- Service-oriented mindset
- Skilled at asking good questions
- Professional appearance and demeanor (Applies to customer/client facing role.)
Please download our interview checklist PDF that goes into more specifics. HSI hopes you’ll find it helpful to use when interviewing job candidates.
#2: Employ a diverse customer support team.
Research shows measurable benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce. The benefits go beyond having different perspectives on how to solve problems.
“Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers.” – Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and author focuses on the global talent market and trends impacting business workforces around the world
Embrace the diverse cultural backgrounds and life experiences of all customer support candidates. Interview qualified job seekers within underrepresented groups, such as those with disabilities, people of color, and other minority groups. Try to attract more diverse candidates; not only those who mirror today’s customers but your future customers, too. Keep in mind customer service positions are usually entry-level positions and personalized training may be necessary.
#3: Have an informative website.
Approximately 83% of the world's population are internet users. Why do companies bury relevant information on their site? I recently wasted 15 minutes of my time and still do not have the company’s phone number!
Here are some self-service tools to make your site more informative:
- Click to call: Some customers prefer to make phone calls. Have this number easy to locate. And be sure you have ample phone support so you do not keep customers on hold for a long time!
- Contact information: Display your phone number, address, and email address, as this allows for a better user experience and builds trust by showing you’re legitimate. Directions to your company office are also appreciated, where applicable. Once on a company’s homepage, 64% of visitors want to see their contact details. And 44% of website visitors will leave the company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number.
- Foreign language support: Have customer support information in Spanish or other languages. This shows you value all your customers.
- FAQ: This webpage makes it easy to quickly find answers to frequently asked questions.
- Mobile friendly: 70% of web traffic comes from mobile phones.
- Shipping and returns policy: If it’s difficult to find a shipping and returns policy customers will get frustrated and will most likely not be repeat customers.
#4: Make social media your friend.
Wow! 95% of adults between the ages of 18-34 follow a brand on social media, according to MarketingSherpa. Think about all the people your brand or service could connect with if you use social media! In a short amount of time your company can reach thousands of new and current customers. After all, approximately 51% of the world population uses social media.
Social media is much more than a platform to attract new customers and promote new products and services. Use it to also retain customers. As customers follow you on social media, their trust and loyalty grow, which builds into a relationship.
Here are some helpful social media tips:
- Respond and interact. You’ll get noticed. If you converse with people on your social media pages, you'll receive valuable and useful information about your customers and potential customers. This also applies to your product or service.
- Create content that is valuable to your audience. Connect with your customers by asking them to like or share your content. Be sure to thank them when they do so. Simple things like this make customers feel appreciated.
- Ask opinions by posting polls or customer queries. Listen to what they say. Then, show how you implemented their suggestions on social media. They’ll see you are taking their customer feedback seriously. Customer loyalty and retention will follow.
- Use a social media monitoring tool, like Meltwater or Sprout Social. Learn who your customers are and what people are saying about your product or service.
#5: Monitor customer review sites.
After every positive interaction with a customer, ask them to post a review. Most customers are more likely to leave reviews after a negative experience. The more varied the types of reviews, the better.
When you respond to reviews, it shows that you care about how your business is perceived. When you care, your customers or potential customers will take notice, and customer retention is likely to result. Be sure to not only respond to negative reviews but positive ones as well. An effective way to do so is through Google Business Profile.
#6: Leverage technology.
Technology is worth the ROI as it boosts productivity in solving problems. It can also reduce costs and improve profitability. Here are some helpful tips:
Invest in a customer service software program/CRM tool, such as Salesforce, or Monday.com. You’ll be able to manage and track customer interactions, and it is the best way to pull data reflecting the most frequent questions or issues. This type of data will give insight into what should populate the FAQ page on your website.
Use chat features. They allow you to talk with your site visitors, leads and customers in real time. You can answer questions and resolve issues. A chatbot is a form of artificial intelligence used in messaging apps. The automated customer service program interacts with customers like a human would with minimal cost. Typically, a chat widget will respond to a question. A live chat with a human then takes place as the questions get more specific, or as the customer needs become clearer and a more detailed response is necessary.
Did you know Millennials prefer live chat for customer service over any other communication channels?
#7: Follow through on problem resolution.
A customer will not be satisfied if the issue is not resolved on time and in the mutually agreed upon manner. Remember, after a great customer service experience, 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase, according to Salesforce Research. You can see why it’s extremely important to follow through on resolving the problem or potentially you’ll lose the customer.
Commit to a timeframe of problem resolution. Your company should establish an average response time, such as responding within 24 hours of last speaking with the customer.
Deliver on promises for the resolution. When you meet their expectations, customers will do business with you again. Delivering on your promise and resolving their problem quickly and fairly is key to customer retention.
#8: Follow up with customers.
The customer journey should not end once the issue is resolved. It continues with a follow-up. Feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch products and services, according to Vonage. On the other hand, if their customer service experience is positive, 78% of consumers will do business with a company again after a mistake, according to Salesforce Research.
Following up with the customer to express gratitude is as simple as sending a brief thank you email or text message, giving a coupon or gift card toward their next purchase or making a quick phone call.
80% of companies use customer satisfaction scores to analyze and improve the customer experience, states Harvard Business Review.
#9: Collaborate with other departments.
Be sure your customer service team is not working in a silo. Remember, retention is all about the customer journey along all touch points. Department collaboration and sharing information is key to customer retention.
Years ago, I worked at a large grocery store chain. Our customer service strategy called for a designated customer service department in all 100+ stores and at our corporate office. The corporate office staff was responsible for larger-scope problem resolutions, and they collaborated closely with the store teams. Our marketing research team worked closely with customer service on customer satisfaction surveys. Marketing was always involved in providing email templates, as well as, posting on social media platforms. It was critical that the corporate office departments collaborated closely with each other and the stores. After all, everyone’s goal was to understand and resolve problems and retain customers.
#10: Provide customer service training.
59% of customers say most businesses need to improve the training of their customer service team members.
It’s also important to have ongoing training for those in potential customer-facing roles. This includes anyone from a technician installing cable TV to a high-school kid stocking shelves at a grocery store. And don’t forget about your marketing folks who respond to social media posts and tweets.
Expanding and refining employees' skill sets is a step in the right direction. Offering an employee training and development program teaches your employees the additional skills they need. HSI’s Business Skills library has all the courses you need to curate a customer service training curriculum.
- Call Center Training Topics:
- Active Listening
- Phone Etiquette
- Escalating Issues
- Don’t Say This!
- Asking Good Questions
- Handling Angry Callers
- Skills for the Customer Service Reps
- Duties of the Customer Service Reps
- Creating Great Customer Conversations
- Customer Service Basics
- Customer Service Chat
- Social Media Feedback
- Customer Service Later (Stop Exceeding Expectations)
- Excellent Customer Service
- Telephone Techniques: Taking Messages
- Front Desk Customer Service:
- Etiquette and Presentation
- Check-in and Check-out
- Communicating with Guests
- Telephone Techniques
- Handling Upset Guests
- How Customers Want to be Treated
- Tourist Attractions: Serving the Guest
- Working in Retail
- And more!
Many of our clients open their HSI training library to their employees for self-directed learning. Employees can choose off-the-shelf training video courses best suited for their unique needs. Request a free trial of our HSI LMS. You will have access to our Business Skills library, to watch any of the courses mentioned.
Speaking of Customer Service
As a HSI partner, you’ll have a Customer Success Manager every step of the way. Questions about which courses best fit your learning needs? Ask your CSM! Need help navigating all the tools available to you in our HSI LMS? Your CSM can help you as they’ll know and understand your learning goals. We aren't just your training provider, we're your training partner. That partnership begins with implementation. We provide you with step-by-step help to smoothly implement your HSI learning solution. Learn more about our Customer Success Managers here!
- How to Deal with Rude and Upset Customers
- Customer Service Training for the Modern Team
- Ring, Ring! What Call Center Training Do You Need Today?