Making a positive first impression is the golden rule of good customer service, leading many companies to invest massive amounts on brand imaging and marketing efforts. However, customers continue to evaluate your business long after they first encounter your products or services. If you want to build a loyal base of return customers, aim to create a positive impression at every interaction.
Moving beyond promotion, consider building a customer success team to ensure the best customer service for new and returning customers alike. Customers may have an eye on competitors, so a customer success team is essential in keeping current customers on your side of the field. Keep in mind that a customer's most recent impression is almost as important as a first impression, so give priority to intensive customer service training, implementing new methods based on customers' changing needs.
The onboarding experience is one of the most important periods of a customer's journey, occurring just after the first impression when the customer is transitioning from the role of prospect to new customer. The customer success team should gather metrics about how customers are completing application processes or using products and services. They should address how many customers are opting in on important features as well as which areas cause confusion.
For customers using your business's products or services on a routine basis, the team should adopt customer service practices such as regularly asking for feedback. The customer success team and product development team should be in constant communication to ensure new products and services directly address customers' most important needs or complaints. Even if a product is receiving positive feedback, monitoring should continue, as customers' needs continually evolve over time.
Finally, remember that the guidelines and practices governing initial positive impressions also apply to your company's subsequent impressions on customers. Return customers want to be greeted when they walk into a business, and they want to be treated like they matter. Staff should never have personal conversations in front of customers, and customers should never have to wait long to be served. If the wait is longer than usual, a staff member should issue a sincere apology.
Other aspects that return customers care about include the professionalism and well-kept appearance of a business environment as well as staff members who listen to their problems and do their best to solve them. This is especially important at a time when customers are quick to post their negative customer service experiences on social media, affecting other customers' view of your business.
Even the most loyal customers are more than happy to move on to a competitor after a poor customer service experience. Treat every step of the customer's journey as the all-important first impression to keep customers returning for years to come.
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