How to Use Customer Service as a Differentiator | Boulo Solutions
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Smiling female customer service representative wearing headset

How to Use Customer Service as a Differentiator

What is the best way to stand apart from your competition? Provide a fantastic customer experience. This experience then creates happy advocates who become loyal customers. These loyal customers in turn lead to higher profits and a competitive advantage for your business. Your customer service employees are vital to achieving this success. So, it all begins with hiring project-based customer service representatives with the right traits for your team.

Research shows the many benefits of excellent customer service. It also points out the pitfalls of delivering a poor customer experience. But what exactly is customer service? What areas are most important to your consumers? There are key factors to providing the experience your customer or client demands. Choosing the right employees for your customer service roles is critical but rewarding. Give your team the support they need. Then take advantage of the insights gained by your reps to improve business outcomes further.

What is Customer Service?

The essence of customer service is making sure your customers are happy. Do so by giving consumers an enjoyable experience throughout their buyer’s journey. Your customer service team plays an essential role in delivering this experience. These individuals’ direct contact with customers becomes your businesses’ brand to the customer. This communication should reflect your company mission, values, and culture. Consequently, customer service interactions must be positive, helpful, resolve complaints, and instill loyalty to your company.

Benefits of Excellent Customer Service

90% of Americans prioritize customer service in deciding to remain loyal to a brand, a Microsoft study found. This finding underscores the importance of providing excellent customer service. Outstanding experiences create loyal customers, leading to repeat business without customer acquisition cost. You have likely heard of the Gartner research that shows 80% of your future revenue comes from 20% of current customers. According to Bain, those existing customers spend 67% more money than first-time customers. So, by improving customer retention by just 5%, you can increase your profitability by up to 95%.

But what happens when someone inevitably does have a bad experience? Customer service to the rescue! If your team repairs the damage, the consumer may become more connected to your company than ever. Or as Leonie Brown, Qualtrics XM Scientist, states: “People who had a bad experience with a brand, but the brand fixed it, are more loyal than customers who never had a problem in the first place.” Furthermore, repeat customers also help attract new customers. These faithful clients promote you through word-of-mouth advertising to their friends and colleagues. On the flip side, poor customer service can lead to disastrous results.

Dangers of Bad Customer Service Experience

Businesses that deliver poor customer service are at risk for negative press coverage. Additionally, customers can be quick to post a mistake on social media. Irish broadband and wireless telecom EIR found this out the hard way with this satirical news story. The article went viral on Facebook with close to 13,000 shares.

Similarly, just one bad experience will drive 1 in 3 consumers away from a brand they love. If this result is the case with repeat buyers, imagine the consequences when a first-time customer has a bad experience. When a company continues to deliver poor customer service, its reputation suffers damage. This damage also results in not being able to convert leads, and profits suffer. Poor customer service filters into the overall culture of a company. And as culture suffers, your best employees may leave.

Ben Franklin’s words still hold: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” That’s why company culture, training, and selecting the right people for your customer service team are crucial to maintain good standing with your customers.

Key Factors to Get Customer Service Right

In an age of technology and AI customer service, it turns out that personal touch matters more than ever. For instance, 82% of U.S. consumers report wanting more human interaction in the future. It’s no surprise then that 73% of customers say they stay loyal to brands because of friendly customer service reps.

A PWC study further showed nearly 80% of American consumers report the most significant elements of a positive customer experience include:

  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Knowledgeable Help
  • Friendly Service

Clients will enjoy doing business with your company if you get these critical components right. These service areas will become even more crucial as our country and economy open back up.

Hire Customer Service Reps with these Six Traits

Keeping the key factors that matter to consumers in mind, look for these traits when hiring project-based customer service representatives:

Effective communication skills.

High-quality conversations, even when those conversations are difficult, are critical to positive customer experiences. Representatives must actively listen and understand the customer or client’s concern. At the same time, they must use positive and persuasive language (and positive body language if applicable) in their communications. Look for relationship builders who tactfully handle stressful and challenging circumstances. These individuals must deescalate a situation if necessary while finding a satisfactory conclusion to the client’s issue.

Empathy.

A skilled customer service representative will be able to see the problem from the customer’s perspective. Look for individuals who are genuinely interested in people. Ask for examples of ways they look for opportunities to help others. Given that human interaction and personalization are more critical to your customers than ever, reps should show direct interest in people and a friendly, cheerful face. Note that customers base 70% of their buying experiences on how they felt they were treated rather than tangible outcomes to their issue. So, your customer service rep’s ability to form a connection with your customers is vital to success

Adaptability. 

Willingness to learn, grow and find new ways to solve problems are necessary characteristics for this role. For instance, does a candidate demonstrate their versatility and flexibility when describing how they would deal with a difficult customer? An ability to think ahead and switch mindsets to provide a better outcome is critical. Adaptable people also like to challenge themselves and pivot as needed, even in a chaotic situation. Importantly, flexible people can perform in a timely manner, even as they change course.

Self-Control.

Individuals must demonstrate patience and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Regardless of the situation, reps must stay professional and positive. This attitude may at times be challenging to maintain when faced with an upset or aggressive customer. Yet, to provide great customer service, an individual must have the discipline to accept responsibility for a situation they did not cause. Reps must find a solution while staying in control of their emotions and communication.

Motivation.

A motivated person will gain satisfaction from solving a customer’s problem. They will further demonstrate a desire to continuously learn about your product or service to perform their duties better. Motivated representatives will take personal responsibility for their service outcomes and display a passion for excellence in their work. They will also show enthusiasm for training opportunities to improve their service.

Time management. 

Speed in resolving an issue is one of the four identified components of excellent customer service. Therefore, reps need to solve customers’ problems as quickly as possible. Accordingly, candidates should have the ability to multitask with impressive efficiency to find success in this role. This ability will result in rapid responses to customers, which is a priority, as no one likes to wait.

Hiring customer service employees who exhibit the above traits is critical, but finding your ideal talent can be hard to do.

Talent Resource

Boulo is a company dedicated to connecting women, particularly moms, with flexible work opportunities. We find our talent is often a good fit for customer service roles. For instance, working mothers rank highly for such traits as being calm in crisis, diplomacy, multitasking, and time management. During an emergency, women are also recognized for powerful communication and relationship building. As discussed, these traits contribute to the success of a customer service representative. The customer service role works well for our talent as companies can often provide flexibility for the position, either in hours worked or location, such as working remotely. If you have questions about hiring customer service agents, reach out to us here.

Tommy Mayfield, CEO of the high-growth tech start-up Wyndy, is one example of a client who found success for this role with Boulo talent. In Tommy’s words: “Given our continued growth, we had an urgent need for an additional part-time customer success representative. Boulo took our job description and quickly provided us with two great candidates. The candidate we hired has proven to be a quick learner, a team player, and someone who shares our passion for serving customers well. I’m grateful that Boulo helped us quickly fill an urgent need and add another valuable member to our growing team.”

Position Your Customer Service Team for Success

Don’t stop once you have hired the best candidates for your role. Ensure your customer support team’s success by providing a supportive environment. By fostering a culture that values your employees, your employees will naturally extend that positive treatment to your customers. Also, make training a fundamental part of your customer support operations. Finally, give your employees the resources and autonomy needed to solve customer challenges effectively.

Take Advantage of Customer Service Team Insights

Further, set your company apart by taking advantage of insights gained by customer service reps. Because representatives deal directly with customer issues, their insights provide a deeper understanding of your target market. Utilizing this knowledge to drive customer acquisition and retention. Also, share these findings with marketing, sales, and other departments to better develop your company brand. The findings should be woven into every facet of your business, from content marketing to product design.

Conclusion

To summarize, differentiate your company by providing excellent customer service to your customers. Using your customer service to stand apart from your competition creates loyal customers, leading to a more profitable business. Keep in mind your customers’ desire for human interaction, speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service. Then hire customer service team members with the traits required to deliver this experience. Provide the support your customer service representatives need to be successful. And don’t forget to take advantage of the valuable insights your customer service team can provide. Doing so will set your business further apart.

We’d love to hear what you think. What’s the most important aspect of customer service to you, either as a client or from your company’s perspective?