Customer service is a broad term. It is how you treat your customers, how you service them, and what and how you deliver – and so much more! Happy and loyal customers are the best way to make your company grow – which is why you need to start giving your customer service a service check. Peter Shankman is the right man to consult on this one.
Peter Shankman is a serial entrepreneur who believes that everyone in the world has the ability to be better than they think they can. He has worked with America Online and has started and sold start-ups. He founded Help A Reporter Out (HARO) in 2007, which is a company that connects journalists with sources. HARO was acquired in 2010. He has written four books – two of them are bestsellers.
Here are the major takeaways from the Peter Shankman interview:
- Give customers more than they expect. Do not settle for okay customer service.
- Sometimes it is a great idea to reach out to your customers just to say hi without expecting anything from them.
- Stand up to the mistakes you make. You are going to commit mistakes, and the easiest way to rebuild credibility with angry customers is to admit it and ask them what you can do to make it better.
Giving the customers more than they expect is the key to happy customers – but what do they expect and what is that extra thing? Get ready to take your customer service from blah to fantastic.
Want world-class customer service?
If you don’t have much time, but still want to improve your customer service – no worries. This 7-step guide is super easy to follow and it will take your customer service to the next level. Get the guide right here.
Exceed their expectations
The society accepts blah customer service, and no one is really looking for greatness. Create something better than the norm. That will get a great response because no one is expecting it. The best thing you can do is work with your network, audience, and customers. Then they will share the story of your great service and product for you – just as an automated process. It can be done for little or no money with great effect.
But where can you improve? Think back to the last time you had a great flight. What made it great? Probably because everything went according to the plan – but you got nothing more than that. Customers expectations aren’t that high because they settle for okay.
A company that really does great according to Peter is Scratch Labs, who are selling hydration products for runners. Hear what easy thing they do to get loyal and happy customers – and doing that little bit of extra:
What are ecommercers doing wrong?
Most ecommercers focus on logistics and not so much on customers. “Deliver it as fast as possible” – that is what we expect, and that is why it is not anything special. How about following up and asking for the customers’ experience? You should be caring and concerned about the customers’ satisfaction.
Try reaching out and saying hi, when you don’t need anything. That is an unbelievable way to grow your business.
The key to happy customers
Your team should be in on your mission, so it all comes down to hiring people who have empathy and who care about the customers. Look at Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons – they focus on that with every single one of their employees. You can’t teach someone to have empathy, so be aware of that when you hire.
Here are Peter’s tips on how to build a successful service department:
Do not settle for average
Once you have found a thing or a million things that work when talking great customer service – there is still one thing to be aware of. A lot of companies tend to find things or initiatives that work but don’t bother expanding or taking it to the next level. Customers desire changes and need changes. Talk to your customers, ask them what they want – that will get you a very long way.
How to handle angry customers
As Peter put it: There is no bigger lover than a former hater. You are going to make a mistake – or a million mistakes. But once you do, own the screw-up. Reach out to the customer and say ‘Hey we made a mistake, here is how we are going to fix it and promise we are not going to it again.’ You are going to come across as an honest company, who are genuinely sorry – and the best way to calm them down is to provide them with a solution or a plan to fix things.
Sometimes, however, customers can be so furious that they are going to start a so-called shitstorm – your worst nightmare. Your company will be publicly shamed for whatever mistake you have made. Do not worry – there is a way you can sort things out. Just come clean and admit it – and make it very clear, that you are ready to move forward.
Listen to Peter explain what the biggest problem with these instances is:
Peter operates with something called a zombie loyalists. That means, that no matter what you do or what others say about you; they are going to remain loyal. You create these happy zombies by treating them well and doing everything you can to fulfill their needs and more. They are not going to mind as much if you fail because they know you have always treated them well.
Personalize the customer service
No one is really in doubt, once they have experienced horrible customer service. Peter mentioned Hertz Rental Car, where it once took him 2,5 hours to get his car. It was bad service because they didn’t tell him what was going on and they did nothing to fix the issue. AVIS, however, the company next door took great care of him because they communicated with him, identified his needs and gave him what he was asking for.
Excellent customer service can be many things – but it centres around personal contact. The place where Peter works out knows him, greets him, and comments upon his weight loss or his new training routine.
You should establish a culture for an excellent personalized customer service department: The best thing you can do is ask the customers what they want. Peter knows a gas station, where the staff is trained to look at the customer’s phone. The employee noticed Peter’s iPhone and recommended an app that could give him a free cup of coffee – it seems incredibly simple, but it is just doing that little extra thing, put yourself out to get to know the customer.
Here are the two tools Peter pointed out as being helpful to you in order for you to improve your customer service:
Dynamics Signal – Helps you empower your customer service team
Hootsuite – Any tool that allows you to track what your customers are saying about you – Hootsuite is especially fantastic.
Hiver – For online store owners to manage shared mailboxes. It is great for teams that want to manage their customer support and sales right from their Gmail.
You can also use social media to track your customers’ opinions – but there are certain things to look out for and things you shouldn’t do. Hear what they are here:
In the end, Peter gave his point of view on the future of customer service. He thinks it will be all about knowing more about the customer and understanding what they want. Companies need to start listening to what they are looking for and giving them want they want, and as they want it. Remember that it is more effective than you think to reach out to your customers without wanting anything from them.
What have you done to improve your customer service? Or did this post inspire you to start making a change? Let us know in the comment field below. Peter is also happy to answer questions – same procedure. We can’t wait to hear from you!