Hint: It starts with your people.
9 min read
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Good customer service is crucial to ensuring your business will continue to grow. These nine experienced leaders and Advisors in The Oracles, including Canva founder Melanie Perkins and clothing designers Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, share their secrets for guaranteeing a world-class customer experience.
1. Turn feedback into an actionable list.
There are endless projects our team could be working on, so prioritizing goals is incredibly important. Keeping customers at the core of every decision makes that easier.
It is vital to connect and empathize with our community. As we grow, one of the challenges is ensuring that we have systems to actively listen and respond to our customers’ needs. We’ve had over 800,000 pieces of feedback across all of our channels; so we launched an internal tool to help us turn that feedback into an actionable list. We also host regular in-person workshops that are open to the public, called “Design School After Hours.” That way our team can see how people use Canva, and continually improve the product. —Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, which is valued at over $1 billion
2. Ensure the entire team knows everything about your products.
Emily Current and Meritt Elliott
We are constantly inspired and influenced by our customers. To best serve them, we ensure that everyone from the e-commerce team to retail staff knows the how, why, and where of our products — from the creative inspiration behind them to the fit, nuances, care, and durability. To disseminate product knowledge to the customer, it’s essential that our team members know everything there is to know.
We strive to be good listeners and keen observers, and use language that is polite, thoughtful, and educated. We tackle the biggest issues first, in a timely manner, and work our way down to small, easier issues. We value all feedback and questions and honor the fact that each person has invested in a piece that we’ve made. —Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, co-founders and creative directors of the global lifestyle brand Emily + Meritt and women’s apparel line THE GREAT; follow Emily and Meritt on Instagram
3. Hire the right employees and be consistent.
Taking care of strangers authentically and habitually day after day requires “customer-centric DNA.” Focus on hiring people with this quality. One of my favorite customer-centric interview questions is, “What is the temperature of the sun?” I don’t expect an exact answer; I’m interested in how they behave when they don’t know the answer. Do they respond with “Um, I don’t know … hot,” or “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out for you”? If they email me later with the answer, I’m interested in hiring them — because that’s how they will treat our customers. I won’t hire a candidate who doesn’t pass this test.
Your customers are looking for familiar, consistent experiences. They want confidence in your brand before, during, and after they do business with you over the phone, email, social media, or in person. Whether it’s your call center or billing process, evaluate which interactions cause pain points for them. Then focus on that area for an entire quarter before moving on to another. —Michel Falcon, entrepreneur and keynote speaker, with expertise in customer experience, company culture, and employee engagement; author of “People-First Culture”; connect with Michel on LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook
4. Prioritize positivity, empathy, and resolution time.
Every time a customer contacts you, you have a choice: be like everyone else, or exceed their expectations and leave a lasting impression that turns them into raving fans. After handling tens of thousands of calls, emails, and live chats for our clients, we have found three keys to standing out and building a following: positivity, empathy, and resolution time.
Our customer support agents are trained to smile and use positive keywords to brighten the caller’s day. Empathy is about active listening, reiterating what the customer said, and truly caring. Resolution time is how quickly you solve the issue. When there’s no immediate resolution, communicate an estimated timeline and do whatever it takes to beat it. Making customers happy is about expectations and actual experience. Whether you handle customer support or use a company like ours, your customers will love doing business with you if your support team commits to these principles. —Mike Peters, entrepreneur, philanthropist, XPRIZE Foundation board member, and founder of the Yomali group of companies, which has generated more than $1 billion in sales online
5. Streamline your client onboarding.
At Healthpreneur, our driving metric is not our revenue — it’s the revenue we help our clients generate. Everything we do is based on their goals and how we can help them win. We’re always looking for feedback and ways to better serve our customers.
We continuously improve our trainings so our customers get everything they need. We add to our team when needed to help clients overcome their issues. If a client is stuck in a particular area and there’s a gap in our offering, we bring in a specialist to support them.
We have a client concierge and a specific onboarding process that starts as soon as they enroll, to ensure they have everything they need and know exactly what to expect. The first seven days are critical for momentum, so we always have an immediate onboarding call with each client. Then we have a check-in call within the next 14 days to make sure they’re on track. —Yuri Elkaim, founder and CEO of Healthpreneur, former professional athlete, and New York Times best-selling author; connect with Yuri on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube
6. Be your own customer.
Hiring the right people is extremely important. Build a commission plan that aligns them with your vision. The customer’s voice should drive your customer service. They want correct, consistent answers and an easy and quick turnaround. They also want to speak to friendly people who are knowledgeable about your products and how to use them.
If you outsource customer service to another country, prioritize value, not price. I ran call centers around the world and saw how important it is that agents know your customer’s culture, so they can relate, connect, and personalize the conversation.
Finally, inspect your processes. Order your own product; call your customer service team; listen to calls; score them, and even answer some of them so you understand everything going on with your brand. — Craig Handley, co-founder of ListenTrust and author of “Hired to Quit, Inspired to Stay”; read more about Handley: Why These Founders Train Their Employees to Quit
7. Value people over profit.
There are three primary reasons you need customer service: your product or service sucks, you didn’t deliver on expectations, or your systems weren’t thorough. This underscores the simplicity of taking care of customers. They want a quality product or service delivered in line with promised expectations, and with simple processes to handle any challenges that arise.
We truly listen to what our customer wants and needs. If we can offer it, we will. We value people over profit and teach our customer service team to handle issues accordingly. For example, a customer purchased a $150 mala necklace seven years ago. It was so deeply meaningful to her that she wore it every day. When she accidentally broke it, she came to us very distraught. Because she took the time to explain the circumstances, we sent her another for free. It didn’t make the most sense financially, but we earned a fan for life. —Lin Sun, CEO at Tiny Devotions and partner at Crimcheck
8. Constantly improve the client ‘experience.’
“Client service” isn’t in our company’s vocabulary. We call it the client experience because it embodies every interaction we have with others. The entire experience is what people remember and talk about — not an offhand service.
To remain a top priority, the client experience must constantly improve and evolve. We want our team to think about and explore how they can offer our clients a one-of-a-kind interaction. That doesn’t come from a training manual; it has to be part of their DNA.
We have a specialized “Secret Service Team,” an idea inspired by customer service expert John DiJulius. Team members from each area of our business constantly evaluate ways to improve the experience for our customers and their co-workers. Before your team can provide a one-of-a-kind experience to others, they must feel it firsthand; because if your team is getting a second-rate experience, you can bet your clients are too. —Casey Weade, CFP, retirement planning expert, author, president of Howard Bailey, and host of the “Retire with Purpose” TV and radio shows
9. Anticipate what customers want.
Gail Corder Fischer
We’ve found that the best way to earn and keep customers is to anticipate what they want and need before they do, and then provide world-class solutions. This helps establish a relationship based on truth and trust. If you say you’re going to do something, do it.
We pride ourselves on being the first to integrate technology and other business advancements into our real estate services for corporate clients; it’s one of the things we’re known for. Our platform integrates these advancements with honesty, transparency, and frequent communication to secure the best deals for our clients and provide an experience that is impossible to get elsewhere. —Gail Corder Fischer, executive vice chairman of Fischer & Company, a leading global corporate real estate firm that provides consulting, brokerage, and technology solutions
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