what customer service means to youIn this increasingly customer-driven marketplace, businesses are fighting tooth and nail for each piece of business they can get, but the competition isn’t just with product quality or price — it’s also about the quality of customer service they can give.

Most businesses have a customer service department, but only a few make it a top priority. Those that do invest in customer service have reaped the rewards: increased customer retention and increased loyalty, leading to increased sales and profits!

What is Customer Service & What Does It Mean to You?

In a nutshell, customer service is the assistance and/or advice a company provides to the people that use their products and/or services.

There are several benefits to investing in customer service. For one, it aids in customer retention. Did you know that it costs 6-7 times as much to acquire a new customer than retain an old one? Customer retention also has a compound effect on profits — just a 5% increase in customer retention can produce a 25% increase in profit.

Good customer service also makes customers more loyal. A Microsoft survey found that across the globe, 96% of respondents say superior customer service is an important factor of their choice of loyalty to a brand.

Loyal customers are everything for a business: not only do they spread word about your business (and we know word-of-mouth marketing still trumps other forms of marketing!), but also contribute to increased sales and profits. Seven out of ten customers say that they’ll spend up to 20% more with a business that gives them good customer service.

How to Provide Good Customer Service

Here are some ways to provide good customer service:

Choose the right channels. In communications, there is a saying that “the medium is the message,” which theorizes that the nature of a medium is more important than the meaning or content of its message. With that in mind, the support channels you do choose determine the level and type of customer service you provide.

Depending on your business, you can choose from email, live chat, telephone support, or even helpful content on your website. Social media may also be considered a customer service channel since most companies have already have social media profiles established.

Nowadays, social media pages aren’t simply where brands advertise their products; they’ve become customer service channels wherein customers expect quick responses. However, some brands fail to recognize this opportunity and 80% of customer queries are ignored on social media.

Send a timely response. According to research by social media expert Jay Baer, 42% of consumers expect a response with 60 minutes.

Think about it, you wouldn’t ignore a customer if they walked up to your store, so why would you do the same online? A lack of a response is a response, and tells your customers that you don’t care about them.

Listen to feedback and complaints. When they’re talking and you’re speaking, a conversation gets started, which is the foundation of building relationships.

Listening to feedback opens your company up to insights from the people that actually use your products and services, giving you immense value on how to improve it. Customers become your biggest advocates once they see that you take care of your own.

Lastly, know your product. It’s not enough to be attentive to customers both on and offline; you need to know what you’re selling inside and out.

Identify the most common questions customers ask and train all customer-facing staff to give answers that’ll keep customers satisfied.

When done right, customer service can be an effective tool in retaining, and even acquiring new customers. It’s a worthy investment that’ll pay off in the long run, and give your business a competitive edge.