Our friends at Revitalization Partners help companies make better decisions about business operations. This blog from their newsletter follows up on their first customer service post, discussing the specific ways businesses can improve their customer service, and why each is important. At Juniper Capital, as private money lenders in Seattle, we are committed to sharing business advice that helps you achieve success. We specialize in alternative financing including funding northwest loans, hard money loans in Colorado, private money lending in Utah, and more:

“In our last blog, we talked about the importance of customer service and the impact it can have on your business. As businesses examine their increasing expenses, they are looking to customer service as a potential opportunity to cut costs. We believe this is a mistake, and in this post, we highlight key customer service skills that businesses are forgetting, underestimating, or never even learned.

Here are four customer service skills that can be the difference in success or failure to a business:

  1. Patience
    If there’s one thing that has come to define the digital age, it’s speed. High-speed internet, instant video streaming, Wikipedia-style informational databases, online shopping with next-day delivery – all of these seem to promise customers everything they want without any wait. Businesses believe that by hurrying potential customers through the sales process, they’ll have more time to devote to acquiring new leads. However, there’s something to be said for taking a more measured approach. When companies and clients are able to gradually move through the sales funnel, they can develop a better understanding of one another. Of course, many customers may still insist on a quick resolution. It’s the responsibility of the business to ensure the customer fully understands what he or she is committing to. When necessary, explain to hurried customers that in order to provide the best customer service, there are important steps that can’t be rushed. Most customers would rather invest the time to ensure competent service than quickly rush into something they may end up regretting.
  2. Knowledge
    Few things are more frustrating for a customer than having to deal with unknowledgeable company representatives. A nightmare situation many consumers have experienced happens when a customer is transferred from department to department, having to re-explain their situation again and again to representatives who either don’t have the authority or understanding to make things right. The majority of employees who work directly with customers are often situated at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder. It’s become even more prevalent as many businesses are now choosing to outsource customer service departments in response to their growing customer base. But while it may make sense financially to spend less on customer-service specialists, it makes absolutely no logical sense at all when you consider the customer service implications.
    Your customers are your company’s most important resource and without them your business ceases to exist. Therefore, it’s worth spending the necessary time, effort, and money to ensure that those within your organization who work directly with your customers have the training and authority necessary to give them a positive experience. Think of these added expenses as investments: 55% of customers would be willing to pay more for a better customer experience, so go ahead and charge a little bit more to make up for the added training.
  3. Understanding
    When you have the opportunity to meet your customers directly and communicate with them face-to-face, it’s generally less difficult to understand them. But as more and more customer interactions are taking place on virtual platforms, the ability to accurately ‘read’ customers is diminishing. This is because there are many more layers to a conversation that can be conveyed through words. Body language, voice inflection, and a thousand other details vital to communication are garbled when businesses and customers attempt to communicate through text, telephone, or video conferencing. These limitations can be circumvented, however. A 2013 Business Insider article provides a number of useful tips on how to read people, and many of those tips can be easily adapted for use in long-distance communication. That having been said, when it comes to accurately conveying intentions, feelings, and ideas, there is no substitute for honesty. If customers and representatives can communicate openly, they’ll be more likely to reach a favorable outcome.
  4. Approachability
    Customers don’t simply want the best products or the best prices; they want the best people. Personality has always been an important aspect of the customer-business dichotomy. But with the necessary automation of sales processes, it’s becoming more difficult for customers to connect with businesses. As a result, businesses become faceless, uncaring entities in the eyes of the consumer. The remedy? A simple nametag. A nametag shows your customers that you welcome their questions, concerns and anything else. Of course, when operating over a digital medium, a physical nametag becomes somewhat ineffective. You can make up for that via social media pages that are well-maintained and give your customers a place to connect with your organization. The benefits of this kind of connection have been well documented: 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO is active in social media, and 46% of web users visit a company’s social media pages before committing to a purchase. Also, organizations that deliver customer support through social media achieve gains of 7.5%, in comparison to the 2.9% gains seen by those organizations that do not.

The digital age has opened up an entirely new universe in which businesses are able to generate leads and establish customer relationships. Unfortunately, it has also played a part in driving a wedge between consumers and organizations. However, by identifying the aspects of customer service that are routinely being neglected and training employees to focus their attention on repairing these breaches, your organization can take advantage of the increased speed and reach in the 21st-century digital landscape.

Don’t let customer neglect separate your business from the people on whom it depends. Recommit to customer retention and satisfaction through building customer service skills, and you’ll find that as you make their happiness your priority, your customers will respond accordingly.

Revitalization Partners specializes in improving the operational and financial results of companies and providing hands-on expertise in virtually every circumstance, with a focus on small and mid-market organizations. Whether your requirement is Interim Management, a Business Assessment, Revitalization and Reengineering or Receivership/Bankruptcy Support, we focus on giving you the best resolution in the fastest time with the highest possible return.”