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How to create exceptional customer service

The customer is always right. That’s what we’re told. But, in today’s fast-paced world, being ‘right’ simply isn’t enough for the everyday consumer.

Customers want to feel valued, not just like they’re another number. Successful businesses and brands know that offering exceptional customer service experiences is a surefire way to achieve this.

Whether online, mobile or in-store shopping, there isn’t a retail business in existence that doesn’t face the challenge of keeping their customers happy. Offering great customer service is a high priority for companies of all shapes and sizes. In fact, according to Forbes, 80% of companies believe they deliver “super experiences,” - a bold claim. In reality, only 8% of customers actually agree with this statement. It’s time for expectations to match reality.

So, is there a reason that the majority of companies aren't putting their money where their mouth is and offering their customers the best possible experiences? And, what is the difference between great customer service encounters and truly exceptional ones?

Here we’ll outline some examples and delve into practical steps you can apply to ensure you're never missing an opportunity to delight your customers.

If you're a retail business looking to grow and improve your payments experience for customers, take a look at SumUp.

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Convenience is key

It’s important to learn your customers’ preferences, both for how they use your service and how they manage their shopping experiences in general. By doing this, you can ensure you make their shopping experiences with you as seamless as possible.

Take a look at large, current trends and react to them. Like ‘cashless societies’, for example.

According to UK Finance, one in six people have gone cashless - meaning they use other payment methods instead of cash. To give exceptional service to these customers and increase convenience, it’s important to offer alternative methods of payment.

Card readers, like the SumUp Air Card Reader, accept all credit and debit cards, as well as mobile payments. This ensures that payments are quick and easy for all customers - regardless of how they want to pay.

Another huge trend linked to convenience is home delivery. Around 48% of UK customers shop online, with one in ten doing all of their grocery shopping online. Offering top-of-the-range home delivery will help you compete with online stores and provide greater convenience to your customers.

One company doing this well is the supermarket chain, Co-op. Earlier this year, the company started offering online deliveries for the first time. All orders will be initially fulfilled using zero-emission, electric cargo bikes. This new service allows customers to receive delivery within just two hours.

According to Chris Conway, Head of Food Digital at the Co-op:

“This is an exciting time for the Co-op, with trials underway on a number of new, online initiatives. As the leaders in convenience shopping we want to look at different ways of bringing our award-winning products closer to shoppers, and this new service does exactly that.”

Co-op also became the official grocery franchise partner of the NUS this year, opening four stores in locations on university campuses.

Create experiences, not encounters

Immersive customer service experiences are memorable and leave a lasting impression on customers, evoking a sense of loyalty.

One company that is great at doing this is Bulb Energy, but it hasn’t always been this way. Bulb Energy is currently the largest supplier of renewable energy in the UK. However, when the company was founded in 2015, under the name ‘Hanbury Energy’ they didn’t have a brand identity that customers recognised or loved.

So, they sought out a rebrand with the help of an agency called Ragged Edge. They updated everything from their name to the colour palette, and their brand voice. This refreshing brand voice helped them to become the fastest growing energy company in history - with 30% of new sign-ups coming from customer referrals.

So, how can you emulate this success in your business?

One of the most important things to remember is who your customers are - and make sure that every communication speaks directly to those types of people. This includes in-store, on social media, and through email campaigns. Brand voice consistency will help to build a solid, memorable identity for your business.

In addition to that, take a leaf out of Bulb’s book when it comes to writing emails, making sure they’re practical and concise, yet also interesting.

Be present at every stage of the customer journey

When striving for exceptional customer service - every interaction counts. Be sure not to tail off after initially ‘landing’ your customer, and always strive for consistency in order to strengthen customer loyalty.

It’s important to prove that you’re engaged with your customers’ interests by checking in with returning customers at regular intervals. This will help to reaffirm their faith in your brand at every opportunity.

Remember: when striving for exceptional customer service - every interaction counts.

One company that is great at being present at every stage of the customer journey is Meetup, an online service for organising in-person events for people with similar interests.

When customers first sign up, they are greeted with a helpful welcome email. The company also follows up with useful information for customers who want to organise a Meetup event. And, customers even receive nifty tips and tricks every now and then.

This exceptional service ensures that the customer always knows what to do at every stage and feels consistently supported by the business.

This is an easy approach to emulate in your own business. All you need to do is find out what your customers want to know and what will make them feel special - and always keep in touch!

Always give extra

Remember - exceptional customer service isn’t about meeting customer expectations, it’s about exceeding them.

Incentives and rewards add an extra element to the experience but need to feel genuine, rather than generic.

Personalisation can go a long way. In fact, according to a report by Salesforce, 28% of millennials admit that receiving personalised offers based on their purchasing history appeals to them.

Customers can feel seen or understood when a brand or retailer recommends relevant items or suggestions, and adding features that show you’ve remembered a person’s purchase history can add to this.

Whatever your customer service style, it can’t be denied that a customer is much more likely to make a purchase when they receive personalised content.

When a young customer wrote to LEGO after losing his toy, the reaction from the company went viral, demonstrating a thoughtful response and amazing customer service.

LEGO carefully crafted and personalised a reply which did so much more than simply address the problem, no doubt making this youngster (and his Dad) lifelong customers.

Ultimately, as customers, people want to feel heard and appreciated. So embrace an open communication approach by inviting them to ask further questions, comments, or raise concerns they may have.

Overall...

Exceptional customer service not only improves customer confidence, but it also helps build and enhance a positive character and reputation for your brand. A great customer experience can be the difference between losing a customer, or creating happy and loyal customers with better retention rates. For this reason, it’s imperative that businesses treat this with the utmost importance if they want to stand a chance of increasing their ROI.

To find out more about actionable ways to improve your business, get in touch with SumUp.

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Ashleigh Grady