With the end of 2014 nearly upon us, many businesses have already started the process of finalizing their fiscal plans for 2015 and creating sound sales and marketing strategies that will hopefully improve next year’s bottom line. However, when designing exciting new strategies to build your customer base with it’s important to continue maintaining and improving relationships with existing customers.
While this remains important for companies of any size, small business entrepreneurs really depend on nurturing and growing existing customer bases in order to stay in business.
Most businesses take a specific approach concerning customer service that mirrors their overall company philosophy. That individual philosophy helps to shape a business in how it deals not only with current customers, but future customers, as well. Understanding your business’ service strategy can help you better navigate predictable traps that can otherwise derail a company’s customer relations.
Here are a few of the most common personas businesses take when dealing with customer service.
A lot can be said about using the tested and reliable method of customer service where the relationship with the customer is paramount. However, an overemphasis on maintaining direct relationships with customers does not address areas contemporary customers find most exciting: self-service, innovation and the implementation of growing and existing technologies.
A tried-and-true company focuses solely on relationships but not emerging technology. This type of company can easily develop the reputation as one that doesn’t implement new technologies before clients demand their use. This can be a serious disadvantage, as many customers increasingly prefer self-service tools to solve issues, and the cost of offering a consistent one-to-one touch point in real-time for every client can be prohibitive.
Businesses that realize that a comprehensive customer-care strategy involves a mixture of agent-based services and technology are the ones that can avoid falling into this category.
Lead From the Top
A Lead From the Top firm has committed leadership involvement but lacks overall effectiveness. Companies like this understand the important of customer service as part of their overall strategy. While businesses of this type typically believe that an investment in customer service technology helps to improve customer satisfaction, they fail to fully understand how to effectively integrate and utilize this type of technology into existing systems. For example, they may not provide cross-channel capabilities for problem solving or have a solid presence on social media.
Keep in mind that it’s not enough for management to value customer service. You need to practice what you preach by encouraging the organization from the top down to continuously improve and innovate new engagement channels.
No matter how developed a business’ brand, it means nothing without a solid and loyal customer base. A business can sit at the cutting edge of technology, well ahead of its contemporaries in customer service functionality and innovation, but if these facets of the business exist solely to reduce costs and serve individual interests, a business runs the risk of neglecting the individual needs of customers.
A self-serving company innovates but only as a means of serving its own bottom line driven agenda. The innovative nature of this type of business can cause its representatives to believe their enterprise as flawless and that they do a better job addressing the needs of clients than what their customers would report.
It’s hard to master something that constantly changes, and customer sentiment is no different. Any belief to the contrary is destined to alienate the customer base needed to sustain a business.
Stickler organizations utilize well-defined protocols, placing a specific emphasis on representatives being able to provide detailed explanations of corporate policy and POV. However, this approach can easily cause a business to become weighed down by procedures, rules and a formalized approach to client relations.
While rules and procedures have their place, businesses also need flexibility to address the needs of their customers. Corporate policy matters far less to customers when trying to navigate protocols that take a one size fits all mentality.
While no one persona can adequately address a company’s customer service needs, it’s important to find a balance between improving the bottom line and delivering outstanding customer service.
The initial step comes from understanding the type of approach your business currently employs and how to avoid the potential traps that come with that type of persona. Navigate around them and take steps to implement a strategy that both takes advantage of new technology and optimizes your representative’s ability to better utilize that technology when addressing customer needs.