How To Improve Customer Service With Act!

Act! CRM v20Keeping a customer engaged with your business is one of the best ways to keep your business in good health. Once your company grows beyond a few people, consistent customer service becomes more difficult. One person may consistently go the extra mile with customers while others neglect the basics. Find out how to use Act! to improve your customer service and keep customers coming back for more.

Customer Service In The News: Complaints, Competition and Attention

In a world where low prices grab our attention, does customer service matter? The answer is yes. A brief review of the press highlights the consequences of customer service.

  • Avoid negative word of mouth. A quick look through your Facebook news feed, Yelp or Twitter will turn out at least a few complaints about companies. In our era, disappointed customers tend to vent their feelings quickly. A British study found: “One in four social media users in the UK has used platforms to complain within the last three months.” Preventing such complaints by improving your service standards is well worth the effort.
  • Easier To Do Repeat Business. If a customer has a good experience, they are more likely to do business with you again. Take note of this example from the hotel industry: “When Leslie Ciminello arrives at the Hotel 1000 in Seattle, she knows milk and cereal will be waiting in her room’s refrigerator. Lactose-free milk and gluten-free cereal that is. It is one of the small but significant ways the hotel has kept her coming back.” (Hotels Go to Extra Lengths for the Repeat Customer). If you neglect customer service, you may be left behind by competitors eager to grow.
  • Earn positive attention. Would you like your company profiled in The Sydney Morning Herald? That was a benefit American Express earned by providing top customer service. The best part? The customer service in question was delivered to someone who cancelled their service. Gaining good press even when a customer leaves you – that is a significant benefit.

It is clear that excellent customer service makes a difference. How exactly can you improve customer service? Just asking your staff to impress is one approach. What should you tell them to do? You can use Act! to devise the details of your customer service program and continue improving.

Improving Customer Service With Act!

Use the following techniques to improve customer service with Act!. Tailor these methods to the value of your customer. In the Hotel 1000 example above, they are looking for business travellers who spend significant time in hotels. Such customers deserve extra attention.

1) Identify your top customers for extra care

Your employees have limited time so you cannot afford to treat all customers in the same way. Establish a few criteria (e.g. easy to work with and highly profitable) and then make a list. These are the customers who will garner extra time and attention.

Act! Application: Add an ID/Status, Favourite check or other field for your top customer records indicating “Gold Customer” (or whichever term you prefer), so you can find those customers easily with a search.

2) Set up recurring processes to review customer feedback

McKinsey & Co is one of the world’s most successful consulting firms. Client feedback is a core component of the firm’s success. According to Herbert Henzler’s book “Pushing the boundaries: Recollections of a McKinsey consultant”, the firm’s engagement performance review is varied out every three months and includes:

What was the quality of the analyses? Did you make good use of McKinsey resources? What was the client feedback? What was the team members feedback? Which improvements were necessary and how could these be implemented?

By using this process, individual consultants and their management never go long without taking customer feedback into account. For managers, records in Act! will give you additional input to consider in assessing your staff. If your team know you will review Act! as part of your management process, they will be more likely to use it.

Act! Application: Write short Notes or History after each customer service interaction in Act!. That way, you will have the opportunity to provide feedback to your staff.

3) Design long-term customer service improvements

Some customer service issues are trying to improve in an ad hoc fashion. For instance, you may have to use a new vendor to enhance the quality of your packaging. With limited resources, how do you decide where to focus your quality improvement efforts? Take a closer look at Act! for customer service failings and opportunities.

Act! Application: Create a method to list any unresolved customer complaints or those that required management involvement to obtain a solution. Use this information to look for systemic improvement opportunities.

4) Understand why customers leave

All good things come to an end, and that includes customer relationships. When customers leave, ask your staff to find out why they left. Once you collect data for a few months, schedule a meeting to review the findings. Look for ways that improved customer service could make a difference. As a starting point, consider the most common customer service complaints according to Business Queensland:

  • Faulty product. It is not enough to understand that the product broke – seek for more information so that you can make improvements.
  • Incorrect descriptions of the product. If customers cannot trust you on the basics such as size and weight, how long will they keep doing business with you?
  • Poor client service. This can be reduced by implementing a rotation program.
  • Slow delivery. Fast delivery service from companies like Amazon have increased customer expectations.
  • Inadequate response to information requests. This factor covers inquiries about account status, delivery status and beyond.
  • Rude staff. Even if your product is perfect, rude or rough treatment may be all your customers remember.

Your next step:

Meet with your sales team this month to review customer service levels. Use the four points outlined in this article to prepare examples for the discussion. If you find insufficient information in your customer files or disorganised information, implementing Act! may be the solution. Contact an Act! Certified Consultant to help you implement it.

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