Building a strong link to your customers can get challenging as the size of your company grows. It’s easy to maintain those relations in the beginning when the size of your customer base is still small, but at some point, you’re going to have to put more effort into ensuring that things keep running smoothly. Improving your connection to your customers isn’t as simple as marking items off a checklist, and it’s an individual process for each company. That said, there are some things that almost every business on the market can benefit from – here are some suggestions to start with.
The Importance of Working with Metrics
You can’t know if your customer service is good without adequate metrics. If you’re not collecting real data to work with, you’ll be shooting blindly at every step. You might make the occasional right move here and there, but ultimately, your performance will suffer. You should start gathering data about the quality of your customer service as early as possible. There are various relatively inexpensive solutions on the market that can help you get started easily.
Analyse Collected Data with Modern Tools
On a related note, you should also run all the data you’re collecting through modern analytical tools. Machine learning and other AI-driven solutions can provide you with interesting insights into your performance, revealing things that would normally get ignored. You will be able to make your future moves with the full knowledge that you’re working in the right direction. These solutions used to be prohibitively expensive for small- and even medium-sized businesses, but that’s no longer the case.
Identify Issues and Investigate Their Root Causes
You’re always going to have some issues on your customer service front no matter what you do. The important thing is that you get on top of them as early as possible and do your best to identify their root causes. This is usually easy when you’ve already been running analytics for some time, and you’ve managed to gather some data.
Make sure to track your results. You should strive to learn something from those situations, especially if you’ve managed to come up with a satisfying solution. Ideally, you should track the results of those investigations in the long term and have some system for revisiting them and reflecting on what you’ve learned.
Bring in Someone with the Skills to Explore the Situation in Detail
The right specialist can make all the difference in many situations, and this applies to customer service just as well. If you don’t have the skills needed to properly evaluate the results of your analysis, you should bring in someone with the right skills as early as you can.
You might also want to promote someone in-house, or even look into obtaining the necessary qualifications yourself. An MSc in business analytics from Aston University is a good opportunity to gain a deeper insight into your business operations. It can also be obtained online, which is often an important factor for leaders with a busy schedule.
Use a Personalized Approach Whenever Possible
As the size of your customer base grows, you’re going to eventually develop various boilerplate replies and other forms of communication prepared in advance. Those can be very useful for streamlining your operations and providing your customers with fast, adequate support in common scenarios. But you must be careful to only use this type of communication where it’s appropriate and makes sense.
Various situations are much better handled with a personalized approach. It’s important to show your customers that you see them as individuals, not just as another source of income. In some cases, it might even make sense for you (or someone else involved in the company’s leadership) to intervene personally and address a specific situation more directly. This can help a lot when it comes to building trust.
Communicate Improvements Openly
Don’t expect people to automatically notice that you’re taking steps to improve things. Sometimes, it can take quite a while for your customers to realize that something has changed. It’s important that you communicate those developments more openly and directly. This will further help you in building a solid image with a good reputation in the eyes of your customers. If appropriate, you may even set up a regular mailing list or something similar, just to remind people that you’re still working on whatever issues are currently most pressing.
The same goes for negative developments. If there are any issues behind the scenes, it’s important to be as open as possible in communicating them to the public and do your best to help your customers understand that you’re working in their interest. People are used to seeing companies go through troubled times. But they will definitely notice if you’re trying to sweep things under the rug.
Get on Top of Major Issues Before They Spin Out of Control
And that brings us to another important point. If you ever get into a truly problematic situation, you must do your best to get on top of it before things get out of control. And that will often happen much faster than you’d expect. Once the word is out that something is wrong, people will start spreading all kinds of rumours and will eventually blow things completely out of proportion. Communicating the current situation in a more objective, level-headed manner will help cool things down, and it will also give you some leverage in fighting against misinformation.
If all of this sounds like a major challenge, that’s because it is. Developing a good relationship with your customers is a never-ending struggle and something which you have to continuously build upon. Those are just some of the most common points to consider, too – there will likely be many additional ones specific to your company’s operations. If you ever start to feel like you’re losing control of your customer relations, it’s important to bring in someone who can wrangle the situation for you. Otherwise, you’ll be on a fast track to seeing your business sink.