With how companies are competing on customer experience nowadays, customer care is one of the most important services that drive customer satisfaction.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand customer care – including its benefits, challenges, and how you can set your own customer care team for success with proven best practices.
What is customer care?
Customer care refers to the set of activities and processes that a business or organization implements to ensure that customers are satisfied with their products or services. It involves listening to and addressing customers' concerns, questions, and complaints, as well as providing them with support, guidance, and assistance in a timely and effective manner.
Key elements of customer care
Customer care sounds simple enough – but most companies still fail to deliver the kind of support that customers need, with customer support agents asking for a customer’s name only 21% of the time. The key elements of customer care basically resolve around:
- Empathy: A good customer care team should have a high degree of empathy and be able to understand the customer's perspective. This involves listening actively, being patient, and showing understanding and compassion towards the customer's situation. When customers feel heard and understood, they are more likely to be satisfied with the service they receive.
- Communication skills: A good customer care team should be able to communicate clearly, both verbally and in writing. They should be able to explain complex concepts in simple terms and adjust their communication style to suit the customer's needs. Additionally, a good customer care team should be able to communicate proactively, keeping customers informed of any issues or changes that may affect them.
- Problem-solving skills: A good customer care team should be skilled at identifying and solving customer problems quickly and effectively. This involves being able to think critically and creatively, working with customers to troubleshoot issues, and developing effective solutions. Additionally, a good customer care team should be able to escalate issues when necessary to ensure that the customer's needs are met.
- Flexibility: A good customer care team should be flexible and able to adapt to changing customer needs and preferences. This may involve adjusting communication channels, offering different support options, or modifying customer care processes to better meet customer needs. By being flexible and adaptable, customer care teams can more effectively provide excellent service to customers.
- Positive attitude: A positive can-do attitude and mindset are key to providing excellent customer care. A good customer care team should be friendly, courteous, and upbeat, even in challenging situations. By maintaining a positive attitude, customer care teams can build strong relationships with customers and create a positive overall experience.
- Accountability: A good customer care team should take ownership of their work and hold themselves accountable to high standards of performance. This involves taking responsibility for customer issues and ensuring that they are resolved to the customer's satisfaction. By being accountable, customer care teams can build trust with customers and demonstrate a commitment to providing excellent service.
Challenges of customer care
It’s not always easy to keep things running smoothly in the customer care department. With customer expectations higher than ever, with 71% of people expecting personalized experiences in every interaction, your support agents have to put up with all kinds of challenges that face their ability to resolve issues such as:
- Communication barriers: One of the biggest challenges of customer care is overcoming communication barriers. Customers may speak different languages or have difficulty expressing themselves, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations.
- High customer expectations: Customers today have high expectations for customer service, and meeting these expectations can be a challenge for businesses. Customers want quick and efficient service, personalized attention, and the ability to reach support anytime and anywhere.
- Providing consistent service: Customers expect the same level of service whether they are interacting with a business online, over the phone, or in person.
More than 73% of people say one of their biggest frustrations is having to repeat themselves multiple times.Source: 2020 Customer Expectations Report, Gladly
- Keeping up with new technologies: Technology is constantly changing, and businesses need to keep up with new tools and platforms to provide the best customer service. This can be a challenge, especially for small businesses with limited resources.
- Difficult customers: Last but not least, difficult customers can be a challenge for customer care representatives. It's important to handle these situations with patience and empathy while also finding a resolution that satisfies the customer – it’s one of the most important qualities you’ll want to look for in a customer care agent.
Benefits of good customer care
Customer care is the recipe for a fantastic experience – one that your customers don’t mind paying more, as a whopping eight out of ten people will be glad to go out of their way to spend more money with the brands they love. Other benefits of good customer care include:
- Increased customer loyalty: When customers receive good care, they are more likely to return to the business and become repeat customers. This can help increase customer loyalty and drive long-term success.
- Positive word of mouth: Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend the business to their friends and family, which can lead to new customers and increased revenue.
- Improved brand reputation: Providing good customer care can help improve the overall reputation of the brand. This can help attract new customers and create a positive image in the marketplace.
- Better customer feedback: When customers feel valued and listened to, they are more likely to provide valuable feedback to the business. This can help the business identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes to better meet customer needs
- Increased employee satisfaction: Good customer care can also benefit employees by creating a positive work environment and improving job satisfaction. This can lead to lower turnover rates and a more productive workforce, as employees feel more fulfilled by their jobs
Best practices for a successful customer care team
Successful customer care teams have some traits in common, and it’s down to you to adopt these traits and implement them into your existing customer care team to put a smile on your customers’ faces:
Create a customer-centric culture
The customer should always be at the center of your customer care team's culture. Encourage your team to put themselves in the customer's shoes and treat them as they would want to be treated, and whenever there’s praise from your customers, your customer care team will feel that did a good job which will raise even more morale.
Example: A good example of this would be how Chewy empowered their employees to make judgment calls that will make loyal, happy customers. The work environment in Chewy is made to be nurturing, “filled with growth opportunities underpinned by supportive managers and trusted leaders”. This is the foundation for Chewy’s great success in customer experience, and brands have much to learn from them:
Provide prompt responses
Customers expect timely responses to their queries, complaints, or concerns. Ensure that your customer care team responds promptly to customer inquiries, even if it's just to let them know that their concern has been received and is being looked into.
According to benchmarks, the average response time across 1,000 companies was 12 hours and 10 minutes. Out of these 1,000 companies, the best one not only responded within one minute from the time of sending the request, but they also responded both all the questions in full, which is a prime example of good customer care.
Customers appreciate personalized support that is tailored to their individual needs. Personalization can include using their name, referencing their previous interactions, and understanding their preferences – all of these make for an experience that makes customers feel like they’re individuals and not simply ticket numbers. The sad reality, however, is that only 36% of customers feel like individuals when interacting with support teams.
The best example for personalization is probably Amazon and its success with deep learning and personalization. They were one of the first to implement deep learning and advanced filtering techniques, thanks to which they were able to show the following recommendations:
- Recommended for you items
- Best selling in category “XYZ”
- Related to items you’ve viewed
- Frequently bought together items
- Customers who bought this item also bought items
- Recommended for you based on your previous purchase
- Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations
With over 35% of what consumers purchase on Amazon coming from product recommendations, personalization is undoubtedly part of the reasons that contributed to Amazon’s success in the eCommerce world. In the past years, companies are slowly adopting Amazon’s best practices but they still remain the king of eCommerce thanks to their abundance of data and their continued devotion to innovation.
Use technology effectively
Leverage technology to improve your customer care team's efficiency and effectiveness. Chatbots and AI-powered customer service, for example, can help automate routine inquiries and provide quick and efficient responses to common customer questions. This frees up human customer service agents to focus on more complex issues and provide personalized support to customers.
Implement a knowledge base
A knowledge base is a centralized repository of information that can be used to quickly answer customer questions. By implementing a knowledge base, your customer care team can access the information they need quickly and easily, reducing response times and improving customer satisfaction.
Leverage social media
Keep an eye on social media channels where customers may be reaching out to you, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Set up alerts for mentions, tags, and direct messages so that you can respond to customers promptly. When addressing complaints, you’ll want to do it publicly on social media as this shows other customers that you are responsive and are committed to resolving issues.
With the increasing competition in most industries, customers have more options to choose from, and companies that fail to deliver excellent customer care risk losing their customers to their competitors.
Therefore, companies must invest in customer care by hiring and training skilled customer service representatives, providing multiple channels for customer communication, collecting and analyzing feedback, and continuously improving their products or services based on customer needs and preferences. By prioritizing customer care, you can create a positive and sustainable customer-centric culture that benefits your customers and your business in the long run.