What is one way I can make sure that our customer service remains excellent even as we grow by leaps and bounds?
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No. 1: Empower Your Customers
From James Simpson of GoldFire Studios: The most effective customer support happens when a customer never has to contact support to solve their problems. Empower your most loyal customers to become your first line of defense for support overload. This doesn't work for every type of business, but anything that has some sort of community around it is an ideal candidate to empower members of that community. You'll be surprised how willing people are to volunteer their time.
No. 2: Maintain Your Personal Touch
From Ashley Mady of Brandberry: As you grow, maintain your personal touch. Do your best to not reduce your customer service unit to an automated system. Your patrons will notice and appreciate the time you take to make them feel valued.
No. 3: Establish Rules and Communicate Clearly
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From Brittany Hodak of ZinePak: As a founder, it's important to set criteria for what is and isn't acceptable in every area of your business. Take the time to define the standard of excellence for your business. Communicate these rules in a clear, concise way for your team to follow. By removing ambiguity and defining excellence, it is easy for employees to measure their own performance and know they are meeting the standards of the company.
No. 4: Make It a Training Process, Not an Event
From Nick Friedman of College Hunks Hauling Junk: We teach customer service from day one and we retrain it regularly in our company. Customer service is not common sense. It must be learned. Help your team understand the customer expectations and most common complaints. This has helped us grow to over 50 franchises with continued customer service ratings above the global norm.
No. 5: Give Out Customer Surveys
From Josh Weiss of Bluegala: After each customer service touch point, reach out to the customer with a survey of his/her experience with the CSR rep. If you notice that any particular reps are consistently getting low scores, take a look at feedback from customers and try and isolate and correct the issue.
No. 6: Use a Software Solution to Manage It
From Andy Karuza of Brandbuddee: A software solution like Desk.com will not only manage all the incoming channels in which you are receiving customer service inquiries, it will also track those ongoing conversations until resolution. This type of software also offers accountability through a rating system, so you can determine which team members are providing a consistently good experience and who is under-performing.
No. 7: Provide Incentives
From Mike Seiman of CPXi: Make sure that your incentives for your salespeople are constructed well. If you build a culture the celebrates customer service, you may not need to use financial incentives. Either way, there needs to be some real weight and importance communicated from the top down if your employees are going to strive to be excellent customer service representatives.
No. 8: Hire More Dedicated Support Staff
From Firas Kittaneh of Amerisleep: While customers tend to love interactions with the Founder and CEO of a company, answering emails all day quickly becomes a soul-crushing experience. And as much as you love your customers, entrepreneurs have too many other responsibilities to dedicate a significant portion of their time to client service and support. Instead, make sure to hire plenty of employees focused solely on improving the customer experience.
No. 9: Implement Closed-Loop Communication
From Robby Hill of HillSouth: As you scale your customer-facing team members, you must enforce closed-loop communications so that every interaction by email or phone with a customer is logged and tracked in its entirety. You do this for quality control but also so the next team member who deals with a customer doesn't have to start at square one because the entire string of notes from all previous interactions is at their fingertips. Focus on one-call resolution.
No. 10: Embed Customer Service in Your Culture
From John Berkowitz of Yodle: Create a culture that recognizes that the customer is the most important part of the business, and make it a point to reinforce your commitment to every employee. As you grow, you will become smarter and more efficient with access to better resources, and these big company advantages will make you better at serving your customers if it is ingrained in your culture.
No. 11: Go on Team-Building Outings
From Michael Sinensky of Village Pourhouse: As you expand, your company will feel more corporate, and less like a family, which affects customer service. We counter this by giving each department a budget for team building exercises and host an annual company outing. Each department receives a quarterly budget that they use for outings and once a year we all go on a company trip to Disney World. We're able to recreate that family feeling, which reflects directly on customer service.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.