How Can a Business Improve Customer Service

How can a business improve customer service? This is a question that you should never stop asking, because no matter how great your company is, and how solid your service and support departments appear to be, there is always – repeat – always room for improvement in customer service.

This is a challenge in business today. No matter how good your product or service is, it is inevitable that service and support will be necessary for one reason or another, because it’s just the nature of things. Someone will have technical issues, a rare defective product, or they may just have issues with billing or any number of things.

The issue here is that it is your customer service and support that you will ultimately be judged for. If your product or service is amazing, but your customer relations are bad, you will fail. Count on that.

This all brings us to our original question – how can a business improve customer service? There are a number of things you can do to get more efficiency, effectiveness and convenience out of your customer service departments.

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I’ve covered this topic before, so some of you may already be doing some of these things, and if so, great. But keep reading, because you may find something new and very helpful here.

#1 – Go Back to Operators

Now before you scoff at this, hear me out. Your call center is, no matter what, still going to be your main avenue for customers to communicate with you through. It’s reflex that they dial a phone with hopes of getting a human being with some effort.

Over the years, we’ve phased out operators in favor of phone trees and voice recognition. Sure that saved companies a minute amount of money, but it made call centers the reputed hell that customers consider them to be now. Hold times, bad looping adverts and music … these are things that do not help. But, it’s this phone tree system that leads people in merry circles which takes the cake.

It’s ok to have a simple phone tree system with minimal nesting and complexity, but you need to have an operator to whom they may opt out by pressing zero, who can direct them to an agent. No matter how simple a phone tree is, it’s never going to be simple enough for 100% compatibility.

#2 – Take Social Support Seriously

If I had a dime for each time I’ve written about this concept at this point, I’d be richer than the King of Belgium. But, people seem to not get the message, so here we go yet again.

This is mainly regarding Twitter, but you really do need to take the idea of offloading less sensitive support and service issues to this medium. Not only does it spare people who hate using the phone (like myself) from having to call you and tie up your call center yet further, but it’s also a good way to be proactive and engage customers even when they have no complaints.

#3 – Embrace Self Service

Same thing here. I’ve been saying this over and over again and I guess I’ll keep saying it until doomsday if people don’t take it to heart. Self service, where customers can connect and deal with their own issues, is very good for relieving the bottleneck of other channels, and it’s also a way to reduce overhead, and seem more convenient. Customers value the ability to just handle an issue themselves without having to deal with you to do it.

This of course is mostly good just for resolving simple issues, posting complaints or getting account information, but that’s a start.

How can a business improve customer service? Bring human beings back to the call center, and take self service and social support channels seriously. Seriously, take this to heart and don’t make me say it again, business world.

Stefanie Amini
is Specialist in Customer Success and chief writer and editor of I Want It Now, a blog for Customer Service Experts. Follow her @StefWalkMe