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On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that your customers are being looked after without you being physically present? If you said, "10," congratulations. That means you've enabled your employees to maintain and follow through with the standards and guidelines you've put in place.
However, chances are you might still experience some hesitancy when answering the question, especially in today's environment when customer service is even more relevant. To help reduce the uncertainty, here are some pointers on how to empower your team to manage customer service issues without you.
Customer service is indeed the difference-maker for small businesses. Your brand relies on delivering a consistent experience. However, if you're working remotely or engrossed with more strategic initiatives, you may not always be there to deliver it yourself. That's why you have staff to act on your behalf to treat the customer right.
Check out these tips to take advantage of your staffing resources to ultimately benefit your customers:
Set policies and empower exceptions
Create service policies for staff to follow. For example, let's say you have a no-questions refund policy for 90 days following purchase. Your training and initial supervision should reflect that standard. At the same time, be sure to empower your staff to allow exceptions within certain parameters. As an example, they might offer other options to a long-time customer who's returning something after six months. The employee could offer an exchange, a no-cost repair, or a full refund. The standard then becomes recognizing the value of a repeat customer.
Monitor customer KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
When it comes to metrics, customer KPIs need to be monitored too. That may include the number of calls taken, customer retention, or satisfaction ratings. By monitoring trends, you can identify issues and take corrective action. There are software programs that can automate the tracking so you can monitor the results wherever you are.
If you're not available in the store, chances are your employees won't have anyone they could go to ask a question. A solution is to create a warehouse of information where they'll be able to find the answers that they need. Whether it's as simple as a three-ring binder or a complex online database, the key is accessibility. Topics to include are product features, expected shipping dates, refund policies, or how to take payments if the credit card machine breaks down. Encourage your staff to add to it as they encounter common customer questions.
Use technology to bridge gaps
Even though you're away from the site, it's a good idea to ensure you're able to meet remotely to handle a crisis or just to reassure everyone that things are running smoothly. A solution for this is technology as it can facilitate those face-to-face interactions without you being in the same room (or city for that matter). Most mobile phones have video chat capabilities. Online services like Skype can conference in several people at one time. And the average attention span is 12 minutes longer on a video chat than on a phone call.
If you want something done right, you don't have to do it yourself. By empowering your team, establishing standards, and monitoring key indicators, you can manage customer service whether you're onsite or working remotely.