Prioritize customer service with renewed commitment

Customer purchasing plants in a shop

When it comes to your business, what’s the true cost of losing a customer? It’s more than just the associated revenues—it could have an impact on your future success. In this post-pandemic economy, customer demands have increased, and worker shortage challenges have taken the spotlight off those demands.

How do you get your business and your staff refocused on providing exceptional customer service? By acknowledging the value of customer service from you as the business owner and implementing a renewed approach for your staff.

Here’s a guide to get you started.

 

Top 10 reasons excellent customer service matters

As a business owner, you know the relevance of a strong customer base. But the benefits of providing that base with exceptional customer service often fall under the radar. 
We’ve created a top 10 list to remind you how powerful your customer’s opinion of your business is to your bottom line:

1. Customer satisfaction: Happy customers are more likely to continue doing business with you. Delivering exceptional service ensures customer satisfaction, fostering loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.

2. Brand reputation: Excellent customer service enhances your business's reputation, attracting new customers and setting you apart from competitors.

3. Customer retention: By providing top-notch service, you increase the likelihood of repeat business and customer loyalty.

4. Business growth: Positive customer experiences lead to higher sales, increased revenue, and sustainable business growth.

5. Competitive advantage: Exceptional customer service gives you a competitive edge in the market, helping you stand out and thrive.

6. Employee engagement: A customer-centric culture boosts employee morale and engagement, leading to higher productivity and job satisfaction.

7. Customer insights: Through interactions with customers, you gain valuable insights to improve products, services, and overall customer experience.

8. Customer referrals: Satisfied customers are more likely to refer others to your business, acting as brand advocates and driving organic growth.

9. Crisis management: Effective customer service builds trust and loyalty, making it easier to navigate and recover from any potential crises.

10. Long-term success: Prioritizing customer service sets the foundation for long-term success, as it establishes strong customer relationships and sustains business growth over time.

 

How to refresh your focus on customer service

Day-to-day challenges can shift your focus away from the service side of your business. Inventory, shipping, deliveries, drivers, weather—where on that list does the customer land?

If you’re hesitant to answer that question, then you already know it’s time to brighten the spotlight on your customers. But it takes commitment from you and your staff. Here’s a guide to help you get back on the path to exceptional customer service.

Staff communication and expectations:

Your first step is to talk to your staff and convey exactly what you expect from them when working with customers.

  • Re-establish and clearly define your organization's service standards, policies, and procedures
  • Ensure your team understands the important role each of them has in delivering memorable customer service
  • Share your expectations with all staff, from top down
  • Regularly discuss expectations in team meetings and encourage staff to share their experiences and challenges

Customer service training:

Your staff is the face of your business and their interactions can affect the customer experience—and the final sale. Create a fun and renewed training program that highlights customer service skills and inventory expertise.

  • Convey the power of effective conversations, listening skills, and empathy
  • Test them on their knowledge to answer customer questions and offer personalized recommendations
  • Use interactive training methods, like role-playing scenarios, to practice their “people skills” in a controlled environment
  • Schedule refresher trainings quarterly

Staff empowerment:

Give your employees the tools—and empowerment—to manage their interactions with the customer.

  • Create guidelines for your staff that help them take ownership of customer interactions and resolutions within reasonable limits
  • Encourage your staff to actively listen to customer needs, guide experiences, and create genuine connections with customers
  • Regularly review and share any customer feedback to help refine decision-making skills and resolutions from prior experiences

Take it to the next level:

Look for opportunities to surprise and delight your customers—especially your regulars. It could be as simple as a personalized greeting when they enter your business to a sincere “see you again soon” when they leave.

  • Create a tip of the day to share
  • Ask for a photo of how they’re using the product they just purchased to post on your customer brag board
  • Add something extra to your customer’s bag or package
  • Compliment their purchase choice

Digital purchases:

You can create just-as-memorable digital customer experiences as in-person ones. It might be helpful to dedicate one or two tech-savvy employees to digital support.

  • Offer a live chat option during the transaction
  • Simplify and promptly process returns and refunds
  • Use customer data and purchase history to personalize interactions
  • Follow up online purchases with a thank you email

Customer responsiveness:

Take the time to understand your customer interactions. Most customers won’t tell you if they’re dissatisfied. In fact, 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, they’ll simply leave.

  • Actively listen to and acknowledge customer concerns
  • Respond promptly and attentively to customer questions and feedback
  • Foster open lines of communication across multiple channels, including phone, email, and social media
  • Tailor your responses with recommendations and empathy
  • Ask for feedback to identify areas of improvement for future visits

Survey your customers:

Regularly solicit feedback from customers through surveys or product reviews. Involve your staff in determining improvements based on the feedback received. Some survey tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep surveys short and sweet to facilitate response
  • Personalize the survey communication and include a salutation from you, as the business owner, or a senior executive
  • Set the tone of a candid conversation and make the customer feel comfortable and safe with their response
  • Ask for product or business reviews

Recognize and reward staff:

Compliments from customers are inspiring. Regularly share customer feedback and positive reviews with your entire team.

  • Spotlight specific instances where staff have gone above and beyond with exceptional service
  • Create an employee brag board
  • Reward exemplary efforts ranging from verbal recognition during team meetings to performance bonuses or employee-of-the-month programs

 

Learn from other businesses

How are other businesses handling customer service? Be a customer. Visit other businesses and pay attention to their technique. If you like what they’re doing, incorporate it into your strategy. If you didn’t have a good experience, use it as a training example.

Also look outside your industry. For example, how is your insurer managing your customer service expectations? With Hortica, a brand of the Sentry Insurance Group, we continually train our staff to provide personalized customer service. Our associates are insurance professionals who understand your specific industry risks and how they can affect your business. And our knowledgeable staff of adjusters and claims professionals cooperatively work to create a unique partnership.

“They work with you. The relationships are strong and you have people that understand our business,” notes Jim Gibson owner of Timbuk Farms. “You’re not talking to an adjuster that’s never done a claim before. You’re talking to someone that’s done it for 20, 30 years and knows our industry. That’s huge.”

 

Related links:

When you’re down staff, you may feel pressure to hire quickly. But there are potential risks to hasty hiring. Follow these strategies for hiring wisely.

Are you looking to widen your market reach to increase sales revenue? Review the benefits of a hybrid shopping experience.

Are you prepared for unexpected downtime? Learn how to create an effective business continuity plan and pair it with insurance coverage that can help protect your bottom line.

 

Hortica® brand property and casualty coverages are underwritten, and loss control services are provided, by Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company, Florists’ Insurance Service, Inc., Edwardsville, IL, or affiliated members of the Sentry Insurance Group. For more information, visit hortica.com. Policies, coverages, benefits, and discounts are not available in all states. See policy for complete coverage details.

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