It’s no secret that customer service will be essential to running a successful business in the coming months and in the long-term. After all, the competition will be strong, with many companies across various industries running incentives and campaigns intent on drawing potentially reluctant customers to their business and whisk them away from others who offer a similar product or service.
The bottom line is that your expertise and lower prices simply aren’t enough to draw and keep customers loyal; not when there is simply so much choice around. According to this Walker report, customer experience has already overtaken price as the key decision factor in the buying process, while this Cision report shows that 84% of companies who work on improving their CX see an increase in revenue.
This begs the following question:
What is your strongest USP [unique selling point]?
Whether you think it’s your well-experienced team or great value for money, the fact of the matter is that remarkable customer experience should always be one of your top USPs. But let’s say you’re not looking for a complete upheaval of your business strategy, after all, you’re already doing a splendid job of treating your customers right, but you may just need to make tweaks here and there to get things right.
Improving your customer service strategy is a journey and, while it’s a great way to increase sales, any good manager will know that getting it right will take some time. However, like with most big projects, there are always ways to start small, dip your toe in without committing to a massive investment, and then assess the impact it’s made on your sales. Which takes us to:
What are the minimal changes you can make to your business in order to increase sales through customer service?
Well, they’re a bit more niche than you’d think. When it comes to improving customer service and increasing sales, there are some obvious changes you can make, like training your staff to improve their soft skills, and the less obvious ones, like tinkering with your website to create a smoother booking process.
Both changes are just as valuable but the latter is definitely easier to implement and will get you quicker results. If you have to show measurable results to a management team or C-level suite, these smaller technical changes can be a good way of proving a success, while the long-term, harder to measure goals pick up momentum.
So how can good customer service increase sales without breaking the budget? To answer that, let’s consider the following:
- Improve your purchase order management strategy
Has there ever been a document more overlooked than the humble purchase order? Maybe the inventory check-out sheet but the PO isn’t far behind. It might strike you as odd since what do purchase orders have to do with improving customer service?
On one hand, good purchase order management will keep your vendor partners happy. A good relationship with vendors usually comes with benefits like priority access to items and better prices for accurate forecasts of purchases. These are benefits that you can pass onto customers through such things as quicker service or lower prices.
For example, a field service company looking to improve customer service might do a job for a restaurant owner, installing a few AC units. Fast-forward a few months, and the restaurant owner calls again to have a couple more installed. Remarkable customer service means being able to search on the spot what items were used a few months ago via the purchase order number, create a professional digital quote based on it, and send it off for approval to the restaurant owner during that very first call.
This is how you make a customer feel like they’re the only one that matters, especially when they’re choosing to work with you again. To you, they might be one of the hundreds, but to them, you’re the only service business company they’re interacting with.
- Automate your invoices
An automated invoice is exactly what it says on the box: an invoice that goes out as soon as the customer transaction is over. Whether you choose to do this using your accounting software (ideal for those in e-commerce businesses) or job management software (good for service businesses), an invoice that goes out automatically keeps both the customer and your admin team happy.
If you’re in a B2B company, timely invoices are even more important, as they’re essentially legal documents that a business needs to keep on file. Switching from paper invoices to digital is also essential if you’re gunning for those lucrative contracts and looking to write a powerful proposal.
- Keeping the customer in the loop throughout the buying journey
Increasing sales through great customer service also imply reducing refunds and returns and one simple tweak you can make to that end is to keep customers in the loop about their buying process. As long as they know what’s going on, they won’t be tempted to cancel their appointment or purchase and go to a competition that’s better at informing them about where their money is going.
According to Statista, both in the United States and worldwide, 18% of customers expect a response from a company within one hour when they contact them, but the fact of the matter is that they wouldn’t have to contact you if you keep them up-to-date in the first place.
Understandably, this type of communication can be demanding if your admin team hasn’t automated their email notifications already. To make it easy for them to respond quickly, it helps to make sure every step of the way has its own notification. For example, in an e-commerce transaction, the client should receive:
- An order acknowledgment email
- An invoice email
- A notification when the item has left the warehouse together with a tracking number
- A text message on the day the item will arrive
- A text message after the item was delivered (just in case it’s been left in a mailbox or with a neighbor)
- Feedback request a couple of days after the item was delivered
Now if this sounds like a lot of emails, keep on reading to our next point!
- Make good use of templates in your customer communication strategy
Let’s say you’re already using a service like MailChimp to send a regular newsletter to your contacts, then you’re definitely on the right track, but there are other small tweaks you could be making to your communication strategy in order to improve your customer service and increase sales.
Thinking back to the previous point and the list of recommended notifications, we wouldn’t blame you if you thought “Now, my admin won’t like the sound of that” and if your team has to send each of those individually, they will have a lot of work on their hands.
The easiest tweak you can make is to configure templates in your management or communication software that will do all of this for you. Make sure that your software allows for the use of intelligent tags so that your “Dear customer” is automatically converted to “Dear Mr. Johnson” and your admin doesn’t have to update every email with the details of one’s service or purchase. These steps are all about reducing the amount of time spent on admin tasks, whilst maintaining clear communication that will still feel personalized to your customers.
The takeaway on how to easily improve your customer service
For each and every one of these small tweaks, you can achieve them with individual software, which is often either cheaper than you might expect, or even free to use. At the same time, if you’re no longer a start-up service business and you’re looking for something more streamlined that’s easier for a large staff to get on board with, you can always look into a job management software that does it all, on one screen.
All in all, it’s important as a good manager and leader to acknowledge that sometimes, it’s easier to start with small tweaks and make sure this is a road you’re ready to go down on. At the same time, it’s hard to go wrong when deciding to improve customer service. Simply put, all the strategies are ways to succeed in increasing your sales!