Simply put, good customer service increases sales and profits. In a Harvard Business Review study, customers with a positive service experience spent 140% more than those with poor experiences in transaction-based businesses; and in subscription-based businesses, 73% of those with positive customer service experiences subscribed for over a year, compared to 43% who rated their customer services poorly.

But customer service covers a broad terrain; what makes it “good” and how to efficiently execute it requires thought, strategy, and adaptation. “Customer service” covers interactions before, during, and after a purchase and it affects a company’s overall image and reputation. Here are some ways to strengthen your customer service more efficiently.

  1. Understand what customers want to get out of their interactions with customer service representatives and managers. Before expending resources to elaborate websites, social media strategies, or specific telephone prompts and scripts, get to know your potential clients and find out what they really want to get out of these interactions. Periodically holding focus groups and customer experience surveys are great ways to gauge customer interest and determine what it is about your company they are attracted to and want more of.
  2. Invest in customer experience to reduce customer service burdens after purchases are made. Answering to customer complaints and processing refunds or exchanges is costly and resource-intense. Prevent this back-end work by improving the customer experience. Customer experience investment means really learning and knowing your products AND getting to know each customer so that you can match each customer to the best-fitting product for them. For example, a runner who purchases a running shoe from a clerk that takes the time to learn about their gait, any injuries, typical running terrain, and mileage will most likely have a better and more memorable experience and is more likely to keep those sneakers and come back to that store next time they need a new pair, compared to a runner who is convinced to buy the shoe that is on sale or is set at the front of the store.
  3. Create a customer service culture at your company. Harnessing appropriate interpersonal skills, like smiling and properly greeting customers, is cost-free yet leads to a better customer experience and more sales. Customer service representatives are not the only employees that customers interact with, so its important for all employees to adopt the same attitude and brand of customer care.

Customer service touches on so many aspects of a company’s processes and strategies, sometimes in indirect ways. Looking closer at customer perceptions, research on customer service and the bottom line, and marketing data can help determine where on the spectrum of customer service activities to focus and what strategies are most efficient for your company.