You’re probably familiar with the adage, “the customer is always right.”
But even if they aren’t, they need to be treated like they are.
Your customers are essential to your business. Without them, your agency will cease to exist.
Even armed with that knowledge, however, some entrepreneurs don’t take pains to put their customers first.
And failing to prioritize customer satisfaction can have a monumentally negative impact on your ability to grow your agency.
At Semify, we’ve made a concerted effort to build lasting relationships with our resellers, provide you with the proper tools and support, and consistently offer the high-touch customer service you need to succeed.
In turn, you can do the same for your clients.
We’ll discuss how to do just that in today’s post – and why customer service matters.
Why Focus on Customer Service For Your Agency?
Before we dive into the specifics, let’s touch on the importance of customer service.
Why is it so important to implement good customer service tips for your agency?
There are a number of reasons to put CS on the top of your priority list. With better customer service, you can…
Reduce Customer Churn
Not every customer intends to stick around forever. But if you experience massive churn every month, you need to examine your customer service procedures.
According to Zendesk, 50% of customers would switch to a new brand after just one negative experience, while 80% of consumers say they’d rather work with a competitor after more than one bad experience. Really, all it takes is one poorly handled incident for you to lose their business.
The more you focus on customer service, however, the more likely they’ll be to stick around. Microsoft reports that 90% of Americans cite customer service as a factor in deciding who to do business with, while Salesforce notes that, even after a mistake occurs, 78% of customers will stick with a brand if their customer service is rated as excellent.
Improve Your Reputation
Does your online reputation precede you? It could all come back to your lackluster customer service.
Online review management is vital, but it won’t do much good without a commitment to great service. Salesforce reveals that 62% of customers will share their bad brand experiences with others. And with the popularity of online review platforms, it’s never been easier to voice that feedback publicly.
That said, a commitment to customer service can help you in that regard. In that same Salesforce report, 72% of customers say they’ll happily share good brand experiences with others in their circle.
If you’re able to solve problems with one human interaction, you’ll go a long way in boosting your reputation – both online and offline.
Increase Customer Profitability
Keeping existing customers around should be a priority for any business. As most of us know, it costs a lot more to acquire new customers than to retain the ones you already have.
Focusing on customer service won’t merely get more leads to sign on. It’ll also convince established customers to stay.
Brand loyalty is a lot rarer than it once was, as it doesn’t take much for customers to try out a new provider. But Microsoft notes that 95% of consumers feel customer service is essential for brand loyalty.
Additionally, HubSpot found that 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with brands that provide excellent customer service. Salesforce revealed similar findings, noting that 89% of consumers are likely to make another purchase following a positive customer service experience.
If you want your customers to not only stay but to ramp up their business with you, customer service is key.
How to Improve Customer Service: What We Did
You’re probably here because you want to grow your agency. But that goes beyond quality deliverables and great performance in SERPs.
If you want to scale, you need to implement some top-rated tips for customer service.
As a customer-focused organization ourselves, we want to share what we’ve learned along the way. This is what has worked for us – and we believe these steps will work for you, too.
Check out our infographic and delve into our good customer service tips in greater detail below.
Define Your Values Agency-Wide
Your values say a lot about your organization and your brand.
One of the most famous examples we can think of is Zappos. You might think that their values would be centered around providing the best footwear or the best prices. But their values are really all about providing outstanding customer service.
The products they provide are actually secondary to the customer service experience they create.
We view our mission in a similar way. Among several other values we have, this is one of our favorites:
If you develop a culture that includes a commitment to your customers and spells that commitment out clearly in your values, you can use that to guide your organization. (Read more about Semify’s values.)
Establishing values like these will encourage emotional buy-in across all teams and provide a “why” that employees can relate to.
If you don’t already have anything related to your customers as part of your values or mission, you may want to start there. Once you define those values, make sure that they’re accessible to everyone and woven into the fabric of your brand.
Track the Right Customer Service Performance Metrics
There are a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you likely track across your operations. But how are you currently gauging your customer service?
If you simply aren’t measuring it or your only clue is when you get a complaint, you need to get proactive with your customer service performance metrics.
One of our favorite customer service performance metrics is Net Promoter Score, or NPS.
NPS asks a simple question of your customers: “How likely is it that you would recommend our brand to a friend or colleague?”
Customers, in turn, will give a rating between 0 and 10, ranging from not at all likely to extremely likely. Participants are then put into one of three categories, depending on their response. This image from CustomerGauge breaks that down.
- Detractors: Those who give scores between 0 and 6 who are unlikely to stick around. They may also discourage others from working with you.
- Passives: Customers who give scores of 7 or 8 who are satisfied with your services but who aren’t necessarily loyal.
- Promoters: Happy, loyal customers who give scores of 9 or 10 and who would readily recommend your business.
After all scores are collected, they’re then tabulated to reflect a range of -100 to +100. You’ll essentially just need to subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to calculate your NPS score.
An NPS score above 50 is considered to be excellent, while scores of 70+ are noted as being world-class. Take a look at how our NPS changed throughout 2021:
As you can see, our NPS scores remained above the “excellent” mark for the entire year – and for several months, we reached world-class levels.
NPS isn’t a perfect metric, of course. We still don’t retain every single client. But by and large, we feel our scores are so high because of our approach to customer service.
You don’t have to use NPS to track your customer service progress, but we’ve found it’s one of the most effective ways to get a clear picture of what our customers think of us. It’s also a pretty simple metric to track.
Since 42% of businesses don’t survey their customers or collect feedback, this can be a great way to get started on that process (and potentially prevent bad reviews before they’re published!).
Take a Proactive, Hands-On Approach
Great customer service relies on responsiveness, accountability, and proactivity.
Yes, you should immediately jump into action when there’s a crisis. But even when it’s smooth sailing, you can get ahead by offering exemplary service to your customers.
Did you know that only 37% of companies respond to leads within an hour?
That statistic shocked us.
We’ve made a concerted effort to make sure we can be reached. For example, we now answer phone calls within 30 seconds (yes, really!).
It didn’t used to be that way. Years ago, we didn’t have anyone on phone duty. Sometimes, a customer would deal with endless ringing and no resolution.
Our team saw a problem and took innovative steps to fix it. We now have a robust phone coverage system that ensures a team member will pick up the phone within 30 seconds or less, meaning we never miss the chance to connect with our customers.
We also answer emails within 4 hours and have text reminders activated for unaddressed customer service tickets. Our leadership team responds to online reviews within 24 to 48 hours. We don’t ever want to let an inquiry or problem slip through the cracks.
It’s not only about when someone needs help right away. We set up monthly check-in calls with our resellers to address campaign progress, answer questions, and strategize to maximize performance. (We sometimes have weekly calls with our resellers, too!)
We work hard to set clear expectations and to provide ongoing support. A team member will often hop on the phone to help with sales call preparation or develop a report to help our clients succeed.
Generally speaking, we’re all about high-touch customer service. That’s not something you often find with affordable white label SEO providers. While we know we deliver great results, we pride ourselves on the level of customer service we provide.
When you’re looking to improve your customer service, you need to be hands-on. Keep in mind that 75% of customers prefer human interactions over automated ones, while bots are only 28% effective at resolving customer service issues. Around 40% of American consumers say they’d rather contact customer service through non-automated means.
You can’t passively succeed at customer service, nor can you be only reactionary. You’ve got to be willing to get in the trenches and get your hands dirty if you want to win the CS game.
Get the Customer in the Room
Remember when we mentioned that a surprising number of businesses don’t solicit customer feedback?
We don’t want to make that same mistake, which is why another one of our values is:
Getting the customer in the room – or making room at the meeting table – is one of the best ways to keep them around. By involving them in your process, you’ll help them feel truly valued.
They’ll have a definitive impact on moving your company forward and you’ll gain priceless insight into the mind of your customer. You’ll also show you take their feedback seriously, which is huge in building trust.
We do this in a number of ways. Surveys are great for extracting measurable data, but we also engage in experimentation that directly involves our customers. We’ve gleaned incredible information from these innovative practices and have made developmental changes to improve our products, our services, and our relationships.
Whether you send out a quarterly survey or create an innovation engine, don’t discount the power of involving your customer in the process. You may think you know what they want, but the best way to learn whether that’s true is… to ask them. They’ll usually be all too happy to share.
That doesn’t mean you have to implement every single suggestion from every single customer. But the mere act of engaging them and showing you care about their experience can be incredibly impactful.
Be Accountable, But Don’t Blame
You aren’t going to get it right every single time. It’s just not going to happen.
But what matters more than the mistake is how you react to it. Accountability and responsiveness can often save the situation from becoming that much worse.
We’ve developed a culture that’s okay with failure. In fact, we encourage it!
That doesn’t mean we’re fine with upsetting customers or not delivering on our promises. We want to learn from every misstep and use those failures to propel us forward.
One thing we do internally is to conduct autopsies without blame. These meetings are a cornerstone for any learning organization. They keep us from repeating preventable mistakes and do so without placing blame on anyone.
We feel this is a healthy approach that protects employee psychological safety while still holding us accountable to our results. So how does this impact customer service?
For one thing, scheduling an autopsy without blame is one of the first things we do after any kind of customer-related issue (or even an internal one). What we learn in those meetings can allow us to keep those issues from popping up again and help us to rebuild relationships when things go wrong.
Instead of sweeping issues under the rug or throwing someone under the bus, we take a team-centered, customer-first approach to the event and discover what we might have been missing. We’re incredibly careful with our language, value everyone’s ideas, and develop action items to avoid those same mistakes in the future.
Train Your Team and Provide High Support
Providing exemplary customer service also comes down to proper training. We aim to maintain a high-performance culture – but meeting those expectations requires us to give our team the support they need to excel in their jobs.
Even if your employees are charming and cheerful, being a “people person” doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t fall victim to customer service blunders. You need to give your staff the right tools and support to thrive, even (or especially) when problems arise.
Providing RASA training (a form of active listening) is a great place to start. Active listening is a huge part of our training across the organization and it’s enormously helpful in customer service applications.
Whatever tools you use to train your team, make sure that they have access to ongoing support and that they know you have their back. Empower them to make the right choices, rather than micromanaging the CS experience with a script or prompts.
No matter what, don’t leave your team out to dry. If you give them the support they need, they’ll support your customers in kind.
Great Customer Service Is Well Worth the Effort
Extraordinary customer service won’t happen overnight. It takes hard work. It may require you to re-examine other parts of your culture and how you run your business.
But we can attest that it will pay off. It’s taken us years to get to this point – and while we are far from perfect, we know that our approach to customer service can make all the difference for our partners.