How to Deliver Top-Notch Customer Care without Spending a Nickel

Sometimes people get so caught up in tools and technology that they forget how to make things work without them. Having the latest and greatest customer relationship management is cool, but it isn’t required to deliver an exceptional experience.

Your customers want to complete their transaction with the minimal amount of effort. They don’t want to be your friend, buddy, or pal (unless it comes with great deals or other benefits.) If you can consistently deliver on your promises and resolve any issues quickly your customers will be happy.

The concept that quality customer care is expensive is an illusion created by management unwilling to make the changes required.

Is it because they don’t know how? Or, is it that they don’t want to move out of their comfort zone? Or, do they simply not care? Whatever the reason, they are preventing their company from reaching its full potential.

Poor customer care is substantially more expensive than high quality. The costs escalate with every issue. Let’s start with order fulfillment. The best handled order is the least handled order. Every time the order is touched, costs increase. High backorder rates require multiple shipments and handling. Poor processes create longer fill times and more handling. Again, there are higher costs.

And, then there are the customer calls, emails, tweets, and posts that occur when those orders are delayed, shipped to the wrong addresses, or any of the other issues that happen when customer care isn’t the top priority. It’s a toxic spill that multiplies the costs.

The good news is that most of these costs associated with poor service can be eliminated without spending a nickel.

To get started:

  • Find the bottlenecks and wrenches in your processes and systems. Follow orders from their originating channel to shipment. Eliminate every unnecessary task or touchpoint. Individually, they may seem minor. Cumulatively, they delay orders getting to your customers and increase costs.
  • Analyze incoming customer calls, emails, tweets, and posts to determine the top issues. Fix the easiest ones first. The benefits will compound as you progress. Continue to work through the list until you are done. Repeat. There will always be new challenges if your business is growing.
  • How many times do customers have to contact your company for resolution to issues? How many different people handle the calls? The goal is one contact and one person. Find out why more is required and fix it. If there has to be more than one, the second call should originate from your company.
  • It is impossible for a company with unhappy employees to create happy customers. If morale is an issue within your organization, it has to be changed. In many cases, low morale is a side-effect of poor customer care. Dealing with unhappy people every day, hour after hour is demoralizing. Whatever the cause, find it and fix it.
  • Smile. Be happy. Smiles are contagious. Spread them like a virus and encourage your team to do the same. Your customers can feel the smiles even when they are on the phone.
  • Be honest. If you can’t resolve an issue, tell your customers. Apologize and let them vent if necessary. Empathy goes a long way. (Perks go further. Offer discounts or other options when possible.)

If you still think that having the latest and greatest customer relationship management system will fix everything, you should know that it won’t remove your bottlenecks, improve morale, or make your customers happy. Those things have to be fixed first. Once they are, you’ll have the budget to buy the cool stuff that makes delivering on the promise easier.

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