Strong customer support is one of the most effective ways to build good relationships. The power of customer relationships shouldn’t be underestimated. Especially if you care about customer loyalty, positive reviews and word-of-mouth advertising.
Most businesses could benefit from a better customer support process. Here is an inside look at the questions I ask myself when I want to improve our customer service processes and relationships. If you answer “no” to any of these, your current strategy may need an overhaul.
1. Is customer support evident pre-sale?
By this, I don’t mean you need to shove a brochure in the hands of every potential customer. Instead, make it a clear part of your sales presentation. Ensure potential clients know that help is available when they run into problems and clearly illustrate how they can receive that help.
I have seen customers make their final decision based on the level of support they would receive if they chose to do business with us. If you worry that it’s a difficult or boring conversation to have, consider the next question.
2. Are your support policies easy to understand?
Customer support is valuable for your business, but only if you can communicate that value in a way customers can easily understand. Things can easily get complicated. Review your customer support policies, break them down by scenario and use copy that is less boilerplate and more readable and user-friendly.
Review your support and warranty information. Look for ways to present it in a way that makes it easy for the customer. For example, a searchable knowledge base or FAQ provides easy and convenient access. Make it easy for customers to understand what they’re offered and how to take advantage of it.
3. Who is the first point of contact for customer support?
When customers need pre- or post-purchase support who is the first person they talk to? If you’ve ever struggled with customer support you know many companies are terrible at this. Answers may include your company website (which makes it deliberately difficult to reach a real person), social media, an automated answering service, or unfortunately, a best-case scenario — the call center.
It’s not an option for every company, but direct support from our team has made a serious difference in the way our customers respond. When customers call, they immediately talk to someone who understands their issue and is ready to provide a clear answer with a specific resolution.
4. Are you prepared to provide the help customers need?
Early on in business, we experienced an issue with customers that required us to ship replacement products. It didn’t take long to realize the waiting period reflected badly on us. Customers boiled over weeks of waiting to get a “simple” part replaced. We stopped using that part, but we also took the opportunity to prepare for the future.
At the time, if we had a sufficient stock of replacement parts on hand, we would have have created a very different customer experience. Instead of grumbling about how long they had to wait, they would tell a story about how their issue was fixed promptly. We now keep a larger stock of replacement parts than previously. It has resulted in customers sharing the second story instead of the first.
Great customer relationships pay dividends. Customers have great things to say and, even better, they’ll come back.
This article has been edited.
Matt Doyle is the VP and Co-Founder of Excel Builders, a truly unique custom home builder, creating homes that make every day easier.