Do you feel like your customer service costs are dragging down your bottom line? Hiring and training enough competent people to provide an exceptional customer experience is time consuming and resource intensive.
But, it’s absolutely critical. Poor customer service chases away customers – costing companies $62 billion in lost business.
A well-trained team can use powerful customer service selling skills to build loyalty and generate additional revenue. Coupled with a well-designed eCommerce site, customers can service themselves and then count on your team to step up to the plate to handle any additional needs – delivering an exceptional customer service experience both online and offline.
Below are the customer service selling skills I’ve used to dramatically grow our bottom line. And you can use them too!
1. Acknowledging and Rewarding Customer Loyalty
Your company can recognize loyal customers by:
- Rewarding them with points that can be used towards future purchases.
- Giving your most engaged fans early access to new products.
- Providing premium benefits like extended return periods and front-of-the-line privileges when requesting support.
Best Buy’s Reward Zone Program
In 2011, the largest retail electronics chain was on the ropes, suffering financial hardships and a CEO scandal. Then, Hubert Joly was given the reigns. For his first month, he spent time on the sales floor as an undercover boss (minus the TV show). During this time, he learned what really mattered to the customers walking through the door.
Part of his turnaround strategy was an overhauled loyalty program. For customers that spent more than $1,000 in a calendar year, he ensured they had a VIP experience.
- 30 days to return or exchange merchandise (instead of 15).
- Access to members-only after-hours product launches.
- Personalized customer service via a special phone number and a dedicated team of highly-trained, US-based customer service reps.
- Improvements to the coverage and accessibility of extended warranty service.
As a result of these improvements, and a number of other enhancements behind the scenes, Best Buy is back up on its feet. Their ability to recognize loyal customers, across channels, in a tangible way was a key ingredient to their turnaround.
2. Leveraging Facebook to Provide Fast Solutions
Providing fast customer service via Facebook is officially a reasonable expectation that your customers have. A Facebook page is more than a place to push out updates and links to your inbound marketing materials.
Between comments, posts, private messages and livestreams, Facebook has become a core channel for engaging with your tribe. A dedicated social media team will help your brand respond in real-time to customer needs – both positive and negative.
Zappos Provides Unbelievable Service via Facebook
Zappos is an undisputed customer service legend. One of the ways they empower their customer service team to grow their market share and drive customer loyalty is with their dedicated social media specialists.
First, they do everything they can to deliver a customer-centric experience that exceeds expectations. Then, when customers engage via social media (positively or negatively), their team goes into hyperdrive to provide nearly instant acknowledgement and support.
And they don’t sound stuffy or overly corporate! That’s huge.
3. Benefit from Amazon’s Focus on Customer Experience
Thanks to the internet, effective customer service selling skills can create a ripple effect that reaches far beyond a single interaction. This is especially true on massive eCommerce platforms, where your brand is competing head-to-head for placement in the “buy box”.
Amazon Rewards Great Customer Experiences
For example, your products listed on Amazon are shown to customers, in large part, based on how well you’ve wowed previous customers. There are multiple ways to earn positive feedback on Amazon:
- You can develop and provide customers with an amazing product.
- You can accurately describe your product – ensuring customers get what they’re expecting. Amazon does a stellar job of this with their own products.
- You can ensure fast delivery – Amazon’s fulfillment service is an excellent tool for this.
- You can add an automated email asking for product reviews
And finally, if issues do arise, you can respond quickly, without arguing with the customer – take ownership of the issue and do whatever it takes to resolve it. You’ll want to ensure that the steps you take are outlined in a public response to a negative review. That way potential customers see that you take customer service seriously.
In the above screenshot, you’ll notice that Amazon actually placed a competitor’s product above their own in-house solution. Why? VicTsing earned a higher average feedback score.
To bring the fight to the competition on sites like amazon, you need to:
- Deliver a great customer experience – including an informative product page, fast fulfillment and exceptional customer service.
- Motivate your customers to leave reviews. What good is great service if nobody else find out about it?
4. Use Live Chat to Provide a Human Touch to Your Site
What’s the best way to improve conversions on an eCommerce site that’s already been optimized for SEO and user experience? 44% of online shoppers surveyed believe that live chat is one of the most important features a site can offer (StoreYa).
Betterment Uses Live Chat to Put a Friendly Face on Your Financial Future
In the midst of the Great Recession, Betterment launched to help automate the process of saving and investing for retirement. As a tech company, they’ve been at the forefront of building a millennial-friendly financial service.
But, even this tech play understands the power of a pretty face and a friendly chat. They’ve successfully optimized their customer service selling skills by:
- Putting the humanity behind their technology into focus.
- Minimizing the total time required for a customer to answer a question or access a solution. This improves the customer experience, and minimizes the cost of providing great service.
- Empowering their team members to offer a more complete solution involving multiple products.
Install an instant chat applet on your site to connect with customers. The trigger for proactive engagement could be based on the time spent on the site, which page the customer is on, or the availability of a representative to instantly engage.
5. Going Viral for the Right Reasons
Advertising is expensive. Between pay-per-click, content marketing, TV and radio spots, the potential for blowing your marketing budget is ever present.
But with some clever customer service selling skills, it’s possible that your customer support team could help with the heavy lifting. Viral content is information that is quickly shared across the web by passionate individuals. And, the best part is that it’s virtually free to the brands that benefit.
Advertising is expensive. Between pay-per click, content marketing, tv and radio spots, the potential for blowing your marketing budget is ever-present.
But, with some clever customer service selling skills, it’s possible that your customer support team could help with the heavy lifting. Viral content is information that is quickly shared across the web by passionate individuals. And, the best part, is that it’s virtually free to the brands that benefit.
Zappos Delivers an Exceptional Experience to a Struggling Customer
Zappos’ customer service is the stuff of legends. One story is especially touching. A daughter ordered shoes for her mother after she experienced a medical emergency that left her feet numb and extremely sensitive. She needed to replace all of the shoes that no longer fit comfortably.
After ordering and trying on six pairs of shoes, in the hopes that one would work, she called Zappos to find out the best way to return the pairs she didn’t need. She was assisted by a passionate customer service rep that actively listened to her situation.
In addition to a hassle-free return, she was surprised by a bouquet of flowers and a get well soon message. She also received an email letting her know that she and her family were upgraded to VIP Members – giving them free expedited shipping on all future orders.
First, you know the staff that pulled this off felt a real feeling of job satisfaction after arranging this special surprise. And, the company certainly won a customer for life. But, above all, the experience went viral.
Your company can improve the chances of a positive experience going viral by having someone on your team look for ways to blow away customers with kindness on a weekly basis. There’s a little bit of planning and logistics that goes into this. But, with focused effort, a viral customer experience is only a matter of time – especially if you have a team that is focused on wowing customers with every interaction.
Customer Service that Sells
Customer service doesn’t have to be a major time-suck with zero benefits to the bottom-line. It’s possible to craft your customer service policies and procedures in a way that excites customers and encourages future purchases.
You can accomplish this by following the steps outlined in this article:
- Make customer loyalty rewarding.
- Use Social Media to showcase great customer service.
- Deliver an efficient, enjoyable customer experience with stellar product descriptions and honest product feedback.
- Find ways to make it easier for customers to quickly reach you and resolve their issue – helping to improve customer experience and reduce customer servicing costs.
- Encourage your team to be creative and find ways to wow customers – hopefully one of these moments goes viral for all the right reasons.
Are you ready to roll your sleeves up and do the hard work of selling with great customer service? Be sure to share your experiences in the comment section below!
Darren has an MBA in Internet Marketing, but hangs his hat on 10+ years of experience in the trenches. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn to learn ecommerce.
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