Your business is like a swan. On the top of the water, where you customers can see you, you want to appear to glide gracefully across the business landscape, looking strong and steadfast.
But underneath the water and behind the scenes, it’s all systems go as legs paddle frantically to ensure you’re moving along consistently, safely and in the right direction.
Your customers need peace of mind that your business is robust, dependable and confident. Much like the swan. This doesn’t just mean providing top quality customer service; it also requires you to be operating efficiently behind the scenes, so that the customer experience is paramount.
Here are six ways you can ensure your business is operating to its full potential, to meet your customer expectations.
Prove to your customers that they can shop safely on your website by displaying a third party verification seal. Popular security sites amongst consumers include Norton and McAfee. This seal of approval will also be displayed in search results, assuring your customers that they can buy from your site without risk.
If you are using a third party company to display adverts on your site, make sure they are protected from scammers. Scammers are using very advanced technology to embed viruses into pop-up adverts that might be presented to your customer when they visit your site. Protect your customer and your own reputation by investigating the security measures undertaken by any third party companies you use.
The recent Talk Talk fiasco has highlighted the absolute importance of maintaining customer details in a safe and secure environment.
One of the best ways to protect your business is to not put yourself in a vulnerable position in the first place. Don’t store sensitive data. Records from historic customers can be deleted. You only need to store information for refunds.
Make sure your website host is regularly checking your site for malware, viruses and dangerous software. Performing scans can also help.
The main thing to remember is to always be vigilant. If you’re too busy, pay someone who knows what they’re doing to look after your security.
The Talk Talk crisis also offers lessons in crisis management. Be prepared for if the worst does happen. What is your company’s protocol on breaches of security? Adopting a Code Red plan might seem unnecessary, but during the worst-case scenario, it could be the one thing that saves your company’s reputation.
Talk Talk were quite vague about what customers details were and were not encrypted, leaving customers feeling understandably concerned and frustrated. They also went dark, shutting down their website and ensuing further panic to set in.
So what is the right way to manage a crisis? You could do far worse that take a leaf out of social media manager, Buffer’s book. In 2013, the app fell victim to security breach, which saw thousands of user accounts post spam to Facebook. The first step Buffer took was to hold their hands up and admit fault. Then they provided an ‘all hands on-deck’ approach, sending consistent, transparent updates to their customers before the issue was finally resolved.
Power up staff
John Lewis don’t have employees, per se. Instead, every member of the seventy thousand strong workforce is a partner in the business. This gives each single person a strong sense of ownership and responsibility, encouraging them to provide a solid customer service experience, whatever their role in the organisation.
Of course, you don’t have to make your employees ‘partners’ in your firm. But if you reward your staff through bonus schemes or offer them a stake in the business, for example through shares, you’re more likely to retain a loyal and proud workforce. And this translates into happier, more confident shoppers.
Having a smooth website, with a sleek frequently asked questions page is a good move, but what can you do for your customers who need instant support when browsing your services online? Waiting several hours to answer a customer email is not good enough. Utilising a live chat service to assist your customers gives your business a personality and prevents frustrated customers from heading elsewhere.
Be mindful to respond to a live chat request within 60 seconds. If you are unable to do this, either increase your live chat operators or run a timed service throughout the day, so customers know when you’re online. A pre-chat survey can help determine the exact kind of enquiry, which can help speed up the process from both ends. You might want to also consider checking the customer’s chat history, to find out what the customer has previously enquired about. This can all help to provide a positive customer service to your clients.
Nothing gives consumers peace of mind more than a solid customer review. Don’t be shy about publishing positive experiences your past customers have had. This will all go towards building trust with any website visitors.
When publishing recommendations, keep them as authentic as possible, even including spelling and grammar errors (if there are any). This makes them appear more genuine and customers are much more likely to trust them.
Earning customer trust is not an easy task. But a business is nothing without its customers. Ensuring everything is functioning effectively behind the scenes is just as important as the business front you portray to the outside world. Get it wrong, and you’ll end up with a reputation in ruin and a business in tatters.
However, if get your customer service right, you won’t just have loyal customers, but a growing fan base, with these fans influencing their friends and families to follow suit and buy from you too.
Sebastian Bos is digital marketing executive at Rocket Mill.