The Face of a Successful Customer Service Strategy

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” – Michael LeBoeuf

Anyone running a business would know that customer service is now the top differentiator for any company. This means every company must have a robust and successful customer service strategy that would enable it to understand how to interact with customers – from the beginning of the association and throughout the ‘life’ of the relationship. Without a proper service strategy, it would be impossible for any company to meet the dynamic needs of its customers, which would mean failure of the business.

There are so many reasons why a successful customer service strategy is essential to a company’s prosperity. Most importantly, a company spends huge amounts of time, money, and effort in gaining even a single customer, and going forward there is a sizeable requirement of all these resources to retain the customer. A successful customer service strategy would be one that would align with the company’s marketing efforts, such that the investment, made to gain customers is not wasted by high churn rates due to sloppy service. Given, there would be some amount of customer churn in every business. However, retaining customers is a lot cheaper than finding a new one – research shows that it is between five to ten times costlier and tougher to find a new customer as opposed to retaining an existing one. The fact is that a large percentage of customers leave due to poor customer service. The cost of such defections is not just in terms of money but reputation of the company as well, since a disgruntled customer is likely to let at least eight to sixteen people know of the shoddy treatment. With social media having become the place to ‘discuss’, customers share their annoyance on these platforms, which a very large audience would be able to view the comments, it could prove disastrous for a company. A successful customer service strategy must have customer retention at its core.

A company that focuses on great service would be able to, over time, make loyal customers within the existing customer base. Loyal customers are happy customers, who are willing to provide referrals and great testimonials for a company. An increasing number of prospective customers now view customer comments and testimonials before buying, and would be more willing to engage with a company recommended by a friend or someone they trust. The more such customers a company can gain the lower would its costs be on advertising and promotions. Word of mouth is the most potent form of publicity for any company, and gaining such brand advocates would be part of a successful customer service strategy. Additionally, loyal customers are not as sensitive to price and are more likely to forgive service lapses of a company. Loyal customers would remain with the company despite the offers and ‘temptations’ from a company’s competitors. This long-term has a significant and positive impact on the profitability of any business.

A successful customer service strategy would be one that unifies a company. Everyone within the company would know the role and responsibility they have in providing top class service to customers, in turn making the company successful. The service strategy would enable the company to place responsibility on each employee for top class service by making it part of the key performance indicators. Any business imperative would succeed only through the support and efforts of each person in the company. A successful customer service strategy, clearly defined and written down, would provide focus and direction for the employees by articulating exactly the kind of value and experiences the company would like to give its customers. The strategy would also let employees know through which channels the company would serve its customers, the capabilities each employee would need to use those channels, and other such guidelines focused on the customer.

Can your company make claim to having a successful customer service strategy? What are the indications that the service strategy is working? We believe that if a company were able to innovate and create solutions and offers that make the lives of their customers better, then the company would have a successful customer service strategy. This simply means that rather than continually asking customers what they want, a company would be able to anticipate their needs and proactively give customers what they want even before they ask. Such kind of service and attention is extremely appealing to customers – it makes their lives easier, while displaying the commitment and passion of a company.

The more knowledge a company can gain about its customers, the better would the interactions with each one become. As interactions with customers become more meaningful and useful, a company would be able to understand the needs and expectations of its customers a lot better, and would be to ensure that it continues to have a successful customer service strategy. Knowing the seemingly minute details of customers enables a company to send out meaningful messages, engaging content, customized solutions and offerings, and overall understand the customers well enough to keep pace with their changing needs and expectations.

A successful customer service strategy would reflect the identity and values of the company. This ‘character’ of a company is what would differentiate it from its competitors and hence must be something that its customers can see and perceive through every interaction and aspect of the company. Aligning the service strategy with the company’s value proposition would mean supporting the customer’s needs, emotional reasons for buying, and expectations with top class service through all touch-points and employees.

While every customer must be treated with respect and courtesy, a successful customer service strategy would target customers that the company would be sure to gain success with. In addition, not every product or service would find success – therefore, the strategy must ensure that the company competes with its competitors head on only where it knows it can gain an upper hand given the knowledge and expertise in those particular areas. Being seen as an expert and authority figure, even if in a select few realms, gains the trust and confidence of customers, which provides a competitive advantage to any business.

Another indication of a successful customer service strategy is that it would focus on building long-term and robust relationships with customers. Since building such relationships is neither easy nor can it be achieved overnight, the service strategy would need to be strong and sustainable. As mentioned, it takes a sizeable amount of resources even to retain customers, and hence the service strategy should have methods to track the lifetime cost of each customer relationship, such that the company can balance its finances with providing for the needs of customers. The service strategy must view customers as assets that would need to be nurtured, and through whom it would gain profits and success.

A successful customer service strategy would be put together to ‘fit’ the customers and their needs, and the company would be align itself around those needs such that it is able to deliver great customer experiences each time. This could require a reorganization and revamp of the company’s processes and operational guidelines – but the ROI in terms of enhanced business and profits, and the possibility of gaining loyal customers, would outweigh every effort a company would put in to maintain a successful customer service strategy.

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