Hear from a company whose reputation for customer service has become a marketing strategy.
Why is customer service so important? Ask ten people this question, and you’ll likely get ten different answers. That’s why we sat down with a friend and colleague whose company is known for its proactive customer service and solid relationships, to get an inside look at how it’s building loyalty and a strong reputation during COVID. George Rivera shares his take on customer-centricity and its role in creating a successful business.
Customer service doesn’t just impact current customers. It’s also a matter of building a good image with the partners and banks they do business with, as well as earning business from new customers.
George believes that first and foremost, good customer service is just ethical. “You want to treat them like you want your mom to be treated. They’re trusting you to deliver on their expectations, and we feel like we owe them that.”
It supports your business -- For example, George has noticed that when whenever his teams pick up the phone and call a customer back the same day they reach out to us, they're more likely to keep their order, and they're also less likely to later send it back without contacting them. So they're more likely to contact them because they know that there's an open dialogue, something George believes preserves his business.
The second part that’s often overlooked is how you appear to your business partners and banks. Every merchant knows that banks don’t like chargebacks. George’s experience shows that he can mitigate these instances by offering good service as a first defense. This, in turn, helps them keep a clean profile so that banks will be more willing to work with them in the future.
Last but not least, there’s a lot of value in terms of business growth when good service is prioritized. When people have a bad interaction, they’re going to tell ten people. With a good interaction, they might only tell one or two people. But those good interactions are going to add up quickly, especially if that’s all you’re delivering. You want that word of mouth and good reviews. That’s what brings in new and repeat customers.
Good customer service starts with being proactive. “Respond quickly and make sure you have enough coverage so that messages don’t sit idle. Make information readily available on your website so customers can seek out their own answers,” George suggests.
COVID has increased the need for good communication: more people are shopping online, and it’s common for new customers to have more questions. Companies need to focus on good communication to manage expectations, such as shipping times and procedures. Take every opportunity to share and connect with your customers.
“If they have any questions, be prompt with them, if they want a refund, offer it to them. But you could also incorporate strategies of, hey, maybe you didn't get all the information you needed, here's some information, and maybe you'll reconsider and then give them a little discount.”
“Your metrics can be very telling about how well you’re delivering customer service. The key, of course, is knowing what those metrics are. We look at how many voicemails we’re receiving, how long these voicemails wait, how many times people call, response times to customer inquiries, and how many chargebacks we’re getting. Chargebacks tell a compelling story because if they’re high, we’re not setting the right expectations and being proactive enough to help our customers succeed with our supplements.”
“I have a colleague that has been leading my customer service team for the past 10 years. “ say George. “Communication is a big part of how we operate. We communicate frequently and take every opportunity to connect with customers. Many of our departments might meet a few times a week, but our customer service team is communicating daily. We find that allows us to address common questions and make sure we have consistent answers. Then, we can connect with customers with accurate and timely information.”
George is also a huge fan of the ‘automate and template’ mentality: he aims to streamline as much as possible and make actions repeatable so the outcomes are consistent. Compared to the company at large, the customer service team is about ¼ of the company. “That’s a great ratio that’s worked for me. It offers enough coverage so we can be responsive and over-communicate. As we grow, we know we need one customer service person for every 3-4 new hires.”
For new businesses, George has found the focus of customer service needs to be patience, networking, and masterminds.
First, have a lot of patience. Many people get discouraged to give up quickly if something doesn't work right away. “It took me years to crack my way to success. So, you need to have a lot of belief in yourself,” says George. Expect the initial traction to take time, but have faith that it will happen.
Having a good network is key. George knows sometimes it's easier said than done, especially in today's climate. Attending relevant events where other people are is a great way to learn and get connected so that whenever you have a need or an opportunity, you have a built-in group of people that you could work with.
Last but not least, a mastermind is defined as a peer-to-peer mentoring group designed to help members solve problems through brainstorming, input, and advice. This a little bit more of an intimate setting where you're talking to people specifically about issues and sharing their challenges and issues makes it more actionable.. Plus, you get to be of service to others.“The key is not to lose faith in yourself,” George reveals. “Know that you can succeed, and once you get that initial traction, it’s going to be tough for anything to slow you down.”
Connect with George Rivera at firstname.lastname@example.org