Written by Andrew Summerton, Brainiact Blacktown Central
In today’s market, where competition is cutthroat and customers have more options than ever, the secret sauce for service-based businesses to succeed is outstanding customer service. Studies have shown that keeping an existing customer is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. And the key to this retention? Impeccable customer service.
Why is customer experience important for service-based businesses?
For service-based businesses, customer experience isn’t just nice to have; it’s the backbone of the business. Making your customers feel valued and cared for not only keeps them coming back but also turns them into loyal advocates for your business.
In today’s world, where information spreads quickly online, how a business treats its customers can make or break its reputation. Good customer service leads to positive reviews and recommendations, bringing in more customers. However, a single bad experience can harm a business’s reputation and push potential customers away.
Not to mention, the service industry is so crowded, making it difficult for a business to stand out. Offering an exceptional customer experience is a powerful way to be different. It’s not just about what services you provide, but how you provide them. Personalisation, empathy, and going the extra mile can make a substantial difference.
In essence, great customer service is the key to good customer retention, brand loyalty, and standing out from the competition, leading to long-term success.
Key elements of outstanding customer service
Effective communication builds trust. The communication journey should start the moment someone shows interest in your service, whether they call you or fill out a form on your website. Even if they’re not a customer yet and have just shown some interest, by immediately responding to these early interactions, you start building trust and showing that you’re ready to help. It’s important to quickly acknowledge any questions or inquiries, whether you do it through a phone call or an automated message.
Once you start a job, and throughout the job, make sure customers are always in the loop. Keeping in touch with your customers at every step will show them they’re important to you. For instance, letting customers know when a team member is on their way will show that you value their time. It’s like how a pizza shop shows you your order is out for delivery. Real-time updates and personal calls make a big difference in showing our customers that you care and are transparent about your work.
The communication doesn’t stop once you have completed the job. You then need to listen to what your customers have to say. Their feedback is important, not just for improving your services but also for showing them that you value their opinions. So consistent regular communication throughout the entire process is the utmost key in providing high-quality customer service.
With so many digital tools available today, there’s almost no excuse for not providing excellent customer service. Digital tools enable business owners to meet customers’ expectations for rapid responses. Gone are the days when calling someone back a day later was okay. Now, with email and instant messages, people expect fast replies. By using digital tools like AI chatbots or Meta Business Suite’s automated responses, you can make sure your customers know they’re important to you because you get back to them quickly.
Platforms like ServiceM8 or Tradify also help trade service businesses manage and schedule work more efficiently, which directly improves customer experiences. For any service-based business, transitioning from paper-based systems to digital tools will enable the team to work smarter and respond to customers faster.
Technology also allows business owners to offer personalised services to each customer by remembering their asset requirements and needs. This personal touch signals to customers that you’re paying attention to their most valued assets and are committed to delivering the best experience possible. You can also use technology to anticipate your customers’ needs. Find software that can help with routine maintenance and preventative maintenance, this is known as asset management, where you can document when you last serviced specific assets and set up regular automated maintenance reminders. Not only will this add value for your customers, but you also gain regular business. Use technology to proactively anticipate your customers’ needs.
Essentially, embracing technology will allow you to enhance customer experience through every interaction.
To ensure quality workmanship for every job, it’s important to have systems and processes in place. Your employees should follow set tasks and quality control measures. These set standards will ensure everything is done accurately and nothing gets missed. It’s like having a recipe for success that everyone on your team can follow.
Timeliness and reliability are equally important. Meeting deadlines and punctuality show respect for customers’ time. Organisational tools and systems can help everyone stay on track. But remember, communication with customers is key. If plans change or schedules get delayed, let your customers know promptly. Being open and honest builds trust.
If a job isn’t completely done, not telling the customer can lead to problems and hurt your business’s reputation. I’m sure you’ve experienced electricians or plumbers in your own homes telling you they are going to complete a certain number of tasks, but they fall short and fail to communicate it to you. I’m sure, in these instances, you’ve felt let down and thought poorly of that company. Service-based businesses should always make promises they can keep and communicate clearly about what’s been done and what hasn’t. It all comes down to doing great work, sticking to your word, and keeping customers in the loop.
Overcoming common challenges
The biggest challenge for service-based businesses seems to be maintaining a consistent quality of service. To handle this, it’s important to have a clear set of quality standards. Even though every job might be different, having a standard way to check quality means you can make sure every job is done well. This is where vision and mission statements can help. They’re not just fancy one-liners to impress other people. They’re a guiding light for your team to follow on every job, whether big or small. For example, Brainiact’s vision statement is “To connect the world’s business owners with support and resources to empower their success.” This kind of focus sets the tone for the entire team, helping everyone stay on the same page and work together to offer great service.
In addition to these statements, checklists for every job will help ensure every task is completed to a high standard before you’re able to call a job finished. Checklists are especially useful for technical jobs like plumbing or electrical work. It’s also important to keep updating these standards to keep improving. This approach not only keeps our customers happy but also helps your business grow and stay ahead with high standards.
Measuring the success of customer service
A good way to check whether your customer service is, in fact, effective, is by using the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This is a simple method where you ask customers how likely they are to recommend your business to others on a scale from 0 to 10. You then put their answers into three groups: detractors (0-6, who might not recommend your service), passives (7-8, who are okay with your service but not excited), and promoters (9-10, who would happily recommend your service).
To find your NPS, you subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. This score helps you see how satisfied your customers are. Regularly asking for NPS feedback lets you quickly spot problems and fix them. It also shows if the changes you make are working to make customers happier.
Apart from NPS, you can also use customer surveys and feedback forms, and check social media comments and reviews to understand what people think of your service. Using these tools together gives you a clearer picture of how good your customer service is.
The importance of personal interaction
Despite all these digital tools available to business owners, don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face interaction, especially in sales. Meeting customers personally to discuss quotes or services can significantly increase your chances of winning their business. This is because it gives you a better chance to explain why your service is valuable beyond just the price, helping customers make informed decisions. This builds trust, creates connections, and shows you care about their needs. Building personal relationships with your customers can lead to long-term loyalty and trust, which are invaluable for any business.
Great customer service is all about building trust and respect with your customers. It means always being one step ahead, using the latest technology, and making sure every interaction feels personal. How you treat your customers really makes a difference. It’s what makes you stand out and helps you grow and succeed in a constantly changing industry.